There have been some “fantastic finishes” in college football over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, some of them were cause by absolutely terrible calls by the officials on the field. Keep in mind that there are more than just a couple of officials at a college football game…seven, to be exact. So, one wonders how seven officials can get a call wrong. Plus, these are plays that decided the outcome of a game; moreover, for some teams, the outcome of an entire season!
The first big blunder occurred in the Duke-Miami of Florida game on October 31 (no, I don’t think the goblins had anything to do with this game). After Duke scored to take a 27-24 lead, and an apparent victory, they had to kick off to Miami to run out the clock. That is when disaster struck for the Blue Devils.
Miami tried to keep the ball alive by lateraling the ball all over the field—8 laterals to be exact. When it was all over, the Hurricanes had a “miracle” win over Duke, 30-27. But wait: not so fast!
In the days after the game, the Atlantic Coast Conference admitted that the officials made several mistakes during that last play…four, to be exact. The conference suspended the officiating crew for two games; however, the loss for Duke still stands.
Then, this past Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans were just seconds away from defeating Nebraska and keeping their undefeated record…until another disaster. Huskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. lofted a pass down the left sidelines to wide receiver Brandon Reilly, who made an improbable catch and sprinted into the end zone for a Nebraska one-point victory, 39-38. But wait! One of the officials signaled that Reilly stepped out of bounds, and then came back to catch the pass…that should have been a penalty for illegal touching which would have nullified the touchdown and given Michigan State the win. But, wait again! The officials got together for a conference and decided that Reilly was “pushed” out of bounds by the Spartan defender, therefore, making his return to the field legal and the touchdown legal. Several replays showed that Reilly’s contact with the defender, who was going for the ball as well, resulting in his going out of bounds, but the defender did not “force” Reilly out of bounds. So, Sparty lost its first game of the season.
A tweet by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg stated that “Officials used proper officiating mechanics…in the judgement of the official, the wide receiver went out of bounds as a result of contact with the defender…” If that is true, why, when the same thing happened Sunday in the Denver-Indianapolis game (the same thing!), the officials did not hesitate to properly call illegal touching? Perhaps it is because college officials receive only $3,000 per game ($36,000 per season) while NFL officials receive a salary in the mid-six figures!
No matter how this call gets spun in the coming days, one thing is clear…Michigan State has a loss and may be out of the running for a spot in the college football playoffs.
How to remedy the situation? Give a win to Duke and Michigan State. Let Miami and Nebraska keep their wins. The Hurricanes could then receive a bowl bid with their six wins and the Huskers could get into a bowl with wins in their finals two games. This will never happen but it is the best solution for all teams that are involved.