Pac-10 Reviewers Need Reviewing
Posted by Jimmy Atkinson
Three reviews by three different Pac-10 replay officials had me scratching my head today.
Notre Dame - Washington: While the field officials were from the Big Ten, the replay officials up in the press box were from the Pac-10. The play under review occurred late in the fourth quarter when Washington was driving for its first touchdown. Husky quarterback Isaiah Stanbeck scrambled to the left side of the field and lunged for the end zone as he was knocked out of bounds. The original ruling on the field was a touchdown. But the play was reviewed. Watching the replays that ABC was showing, it was clear that the ruling on the field should stand: Stanbeck stretched his arm toward the goal line and the ball made contact with the inside of the pylon as his body hit the sideline. Surely, this play would stand as called. Except it didn't. The referee explained that there was indisputable video evidence that the runner hit out of bounds at the one-yard line. Sure looked like a touchdown to me (and Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts for that matter). But it was inconsequential as the Huskies scored on the next play courtesy of a Mark Palaita run.
USC - Oregon: The play in question came on the game's fourth play when the Ducks were forced to punt. Aaron Knowles' 33-yard punt was muffed by a Trojan and the loose ball resulted in a swarm of bodies forming a pile on the ball at the USC 40-yard line. Originally, it was ruled that the ball was recovered by USC. But the replay officials upstairs wanted another look. ABC showed several different replay angles and none of them appeared conclusive. No one watching these replays would have been able to see who recovered the ball first. Surely, the ruling on the field would stand. Except that it didn't. The referee explained that there was conclusive evidence that the Ducks had recovered. Did the replay officials have an angle that ABC wasn't showing us? I couldn't figure it out. But in any case, it was Ducks' ball, first and ten.
Arizona State - Oregon State: This review was just entirely unneccesary. Early in the third quarter, Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller was under heavy pressure. Beaver lineman Henry Anderson had Keller in his arms and was bringing him to the ground. Clemens decided to throw the ball away to avoid the sack, drawing an intentional grounding flag from the referee. When I first saw it happen live, I thought that Keller's knee actually had hit the ground before he released the football and that the penalty flag should not have been thrown because the play was dead at the spot. Well, I figured that it didn't matter because the penalty for intentional grounding is simply a "loss of down at the spot of the foul" (NCAA 2005 Football Rules Book, Rule 7-3 Article 2.f). In other words, there is no yardage penalty; a sack results in the same thing as an intentional grounding penalty.
But the officials for whatever reason decided to waste time to review it anyway. As it turns out, Keller's knee had in fact hit the ground prior to the ball being released and so the reviewers got this one right. So, the penalty was picked up and the ball was placed at the point of the sack. But it was a moot point. The result was exactly the same.
Although the TBS announcers Ron Davis and Charles Thulin had absolutely no clue about this. They kept insisting that Arizona State had received a break courtesy of the replay because now it was second and long as opposed to second and really long. Of course, that comment makes no sense because, again, there is no yardage marched off against a grounding penalty.