My co-author of this blog, Mr. Jeff Proctor, often states his disdain for instant replay in College Football. It has no rhyme or reason. Any play can be reviewed from upstairs, or a coach can challenge twice. It often leads to slow-downs b/c someone wants to check out a play. I'm not wild about the way it works for those reasons, but I don't want to not take advantage of technology to get a call right that might cost someone a game.
But, for those ready to 86 instant replay in the NCAA, Exhibit A comes from Saturday's game in Ann Arbor. From what I'm told, the people in the booth reviewing these plays aren't the Marx Brothers, they are former officials. Guys who have been on the field for years and now have the easiest job ever-- slo-mo replays to see if a foot is in bounds or there is a fumble. Sure, some calls are incredible close, but the play in question Saturday was about the most cut and dry play I've ever seen. Brandon Minor catches a pass near the goal line and lands out of bounds, but he grazes the pylon with his foot on the way by. Mr. Official upstairs rules it a touchdown. Here's the field ref's explanation courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:
U-M's first touchdown caused controversy Saturday. Brandon Minor appeared to land out of bounds after leaving his feet to catch a pass near the end zone pylon in the first quarter. An on-the-field referee ruled it incomplete, but a replay official overturned the decision, crediting Minor with a touchdown because his foot had grazed the end-zone pylon before he landed.
The NCAA rulebook, however, seems to contradict the ruling: "A player or an airborne player who touches a pylon is out of bounds."
Referee David Witvoet told a pool reporter after the game that, based on that rule, "He's out of bounds."
So why was Minor awarded a touchdown?
"The play was, he caught the ball in the air, touched the pylon first, and was out of bounds," Witvoet said. "It was subsequently ruled a touchdown. That's what happened. ... More than that, I can't really tell you anything else."
Later, Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters the replay official applied the wrong rule to the play. The rule where the pylon means touchdown if the ball hits it. Yeah, the rule where a player has already touched a foot in the field of play. My question is how does something as basic as a receiver not getting a foot inbounds escape two veteran referees? At the time, it was so simple for me and every other fan in the room. If a guy catches a pass halfway into the endzone he's broken the plane, BUT HE STILL HAS TO LAND IN BOUNDS FOR IT TO BE A CATCH!
MSU won the game so this will one day be nearly forgotten, but they should fire the crew working upstairs and allow the field ref to have a monitor and ability to question the ruling before he blindly announces it. Still, that was easily the worst call I've ever seen by an official.