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ACC: We Got BOTH Calls Right


ACC Now has the lengthy explanation from the league office.  This is really not a surprise announcement since there is no way the ACC would say they got one wrong and one right or even both of them wrong.  The fallout from such an announcement would be too much of a nightmare so the easiest course is to say they got them both correct. I still disagree with the overturn of Foster's catch for reasons I will get into in a moment.  First two key facts:

1. It was a Big East crew on the field and ACC replay officials in the booth.  Between the message boards, ABC and Woody Durham everyone but officials from the WAC were said to have been calling this game. Since Notre Dame is a Big East member in everything but football they borrowed officials for their trip to Chapel Hill.

2. After the Michael Floyd catch the ACC official in the booth, Joe Rider did in fact try to buzz the officials on the field to have the previous play reviewed.  There are tons of questions about whether a review was even allowable since Notre Dame managed to snap the ball.  The answer is yes, Rider buzzed for a review mainly because the refs on the field screwed up by not stopping the clock for the 1st down since they deemed it was not a fumble and because there was a question as to whether a fumble took place.

Even after reading the explanation I still think the blew the call on Foster's catch.  ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads explained the call like this:

With Carolina leading by five points, wide receiver Brooks Foster appeared to grab a 29-yard pass from Cameron Sexton on the sideline on third down. As Foster's elbow hit the ground, the ball was jarred loose. The play was originally called a completion, but it was overturned on instant replay, Rhoads said, based on guidelines set by the College Football Officials Association.

So Carolina had to punt.

“If a player is airborne and catches the ball, with or without contact, when the player comes to the ground, he must maintain possession of the ball,’’ Rhoads said, citing the CFO’s rules. “If he immediately loses it, it’s incomplete.”

Now, on one hand it is entirely possible Foster lost the ball upon hitting the ground and in that case the rule is correctly applied.  The odd thing I cannot reconcile is Foster caught the ball, brought one foot down, then brought a knee down and finally brought the elbow, then rolled over at which point you see the ball come out.  The rule states Foster needed to maintain possession upon hitting the ground and apparently that involves the whole body hitting the ground.  Based on the replay angles I saw, it is not clear when Foster loses the football.  Yes it is clearly loose when he rolls over but at the moment his elbow hits the ground the ball cannot be seen from the available angle.  So in respect to the rule of replays, which requires indisputable evidence, I am not sure how you can say the ball was loose upon Foster's elbow hitting the ground if the ball cannot be seen.  In fact the only way the call gets overturned is if you use the visual of the ball popping loose after Foster rolled over and in my opinion that is past the point where he hits the ground.  The rule was the right rule but I am not sure the video evidence supports it here at least to the degree that it is indisputable as the replay guidelines require.

The final play was more of a mess because of the fumble and the fact the refs apparently failed to stop the clock after the catch thus allowing most of the time run off.  According to one drive-by commenter who said he was a Kansas fan and called my previous post "trash" the refs screwed Notre Dame and gave UNC the game:

im just getting started actually. the final play was not even reviewable. rule 12-3-3-b states that “When a ball carrier is judged down by rule and the ball is fumbled, the play may be reviewed if the recovery of the ball occurs in the immediate action following the fumble and is prior to any official signaling that the ball is dead.”

if you read that rule, there are 2 parameters that have to be met for floyds fumble to be reviewed: 1) “the recovery must be in the immediate action following the fumble…” This obviously didnt happen, the ball rolled 10 yards away. certainly not immediate. 2) The recovery was not prior to any official signaling the ball is dead. they ruled floyd down on the field, and you can see in the highlight the irish players looking at the side judges, reacting to their signal, and thus running up to the new line of scrimmage to spike the ball.

First of all, per the ACC the play was reviewable because the replay official buzzed the referee on the field asking for a review.

Secondly, I am trying to figure out what version of logic or English leads to interpreting the cited rule that way.  When the rule says "immediate action" I take that to mean the "the very next action taken by a player"  Besides that point I am not sure how much more immediate UNC players could have been.  The ball popped loose and was...well...immediately jumped on it.  It would be one thing if the ball popped out, the UNC players stood there then decided to jump on it.  A failure to react to the fumble as soon as it happened would have fit the criteria of the rule.  In this case UNC players jumped on the ball as soon as it hit the field which can be defined by as "immediate action"

Yes, the official on the field called the player down but going back to the first point, the ACC replay official buzzed for a review prior to the snap. Which nullifies the mumbo jumbo above.

the fumble was NOT reviewable, the only thing that was reviewable was the clock. so, after the review, the only LEGAL option for the referees was to give the ball to ND at the UNC 6 with 5 seconds left, which is how much time left when floyd was ruled down. ND got screwed at the end.

Not true as stated above and also based on watching plenty of games where this sort of reversal is called.  Yes there were two lines of thought here.  One was a review to look at the clock and the 2nd was whether it was a fumble or not.  Let's say, for the sake of argument, the officials opt to review only the time issue, they do and give the ball to Notre Dame.  Butch Davis would have then challenged the call on the field asking to review the fumble no-call and assuming the same determination was made, UNC would have gotten the ball back anyway because regardless of our Jayhawk friend's inability to read the rulebook, the play was reviewable for the fumble.

In the end I think the officials probably spent the four plus minutes looking at all aspects of the play to make the correct determination of what happened. Most fans would probably agree that they would rather see the officials review a play and make sure all the calls were correct rather than limiting it to one aspect.  In this case the whole play ends up being reviewable because you have a clock issue and a possible fumble and recovery. Obviously I am biased and thing the right call was made but the announcers handling the game reached the same conclusion and if anything I would have expected them to be Notre Dame biased.

So that concludes the officiating controversy for this week.  Have a nice day.