Refs should have stuck by their calls

BY foxsports • October 27, 2012

Officials use abbreviations for penalties. There's OPI (offensive pass interference), DPI (defensive pass interference) and FCI (fair catch interference), to name a few.

After watching some of the games Saturday during Week 9, I'm thinking maybe we should add a new one … TMI (too much information).

I'm sure you're wondering if I got hit in the head with a boom "mike" while in the FOX studios, because how could an official ever have too much information while trying to get calls right?

First thing you should know is this: Officials are encouraged to communicate with each other, especially if another official has a better view. In most cases, in regard to pass interference, this information deals with whether a pass is catchable.

Sometimes, though, when it comes to pure judgment, too much information can lead an official, whose instinct led him to call a foul in the first place, to question his own belief.

Twice on Saturday, two defensive pass-interference penalties were called by back judges in two different games, but input from other officials led to the flags being picked up in both games, when in my opinion, they should not have been.

Information that leads to a flag being picked up needs to be like indisputable visual evidence in replay. It needs to be 100 percent clear that the official who called the penalty is wrong. The best rule of thumb should be, unless there is absolutely no question, let the call stand.

Let's take a look at the two plays in question.

The first play took place in the Texas Tech-Kansas State game on FOX. Here was the situation: Kansas State had the ball, third down and goal at the Texas Tech 17-yard line with 26 seconds left in the first quarter. Texas Tech led 7-0.

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein attempted a pass to the end zone for Tremaine Thompson that was incomplete. Texas Tech defender Cody Davis initially was called for pass interference, but the flag was picked up, and the referee announced that the players just got their feet tangled.

In my opinion, the flag should not have been picked up. As Thompson crossed in front of Davis, there was enough contact for pass interference, even before the feet may have tangled.

Both the field judge and the side judge came in and reported to the back judge, who had made the call, that it was tangled feet. I would have loved for the back judge to stand up strong and say that he had a foul before any possible tangled feet occurred.

He didn't, and the flag was picked up, even though, as I said, it should not have been. Some will respectfully disagree, but much like replay, I don't think there was enough to overturn the initial call of pass interference.

The second play happened in the USC-Arizona game. Here was the situation: USC had the ball, first and 10 at the Arizona 28-yard line with 14:08 left in the second quarter. Arizona led 10-0.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley attempted a pass to Marquis Lee near the goal line that was incomplete. Arizona defender Jonathan McKnight originally was called for pass interference, but again, the flag was picked up and the penalty was not called.

Here's a case of not only too much information, but bad information. The back judge threw the flag and seemed to willingly accept input from the side judge, who really didn't have a clear view of the play.

McKnight hooked Lee over the shoulder around the chest, which kept Lee from elevating to attempt to make the catch. This was not your classic hook and turn, which is what the announcement by the referee alluded to. This was an arm over the shoulder, which clearly restricted the receiver. Again, I would have liked the back judge to stay with his instincts and his initial call.

Information is a powerful thing. Sometimes too much of it can be dangerous.

I want to discuss one other thing that took place that was extremely unusual. It happened in the UCLA-Arizona State game.

When is the last time you saw a team kick off in both halves of a game? It happened to UCLA on Saturday. And it could have cost the Bruins the game. However, they ended up winning on the last play, 45-43.

But there will be a lot of discussion about this in the next few days. Apparently, and I say this without a report from the PAC-12, the UCLA captains were late getting onto the field for the opening coin toss. The special-teams captain called the toss for UCLA and won.

Instead of deferring his choice until the second half, he chose to kick off. Therefore, in the second half, Arizona State had the option and chose to receive. The Sun Devils ended up getting a field goal on their opening possession.

There's no question that the special-teams captain stated that his choice was to kick. The greater question might be, whether the referee could have taken a bit of extra time to make sure that he realized that with this decision, UCLA would end up kicking off to start both halves.

I can almost guarantee one thing: You won't see this happen again any time soon … especially involving UCLA.


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