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a few thoughts after a day to digest BYU's big win in Albuquerque...
okay--first things first, and that means a follow-up to Saturday night's "big story" (other than the 31-24 win itself, of course).
I refer to the controversy surrounding Andrew George's "TD catch that wasn't" in the 4th quarter.
As anyone who listened to the game will tell you, Marc Lyons and I were absolutely confident the original TD ruling would stand, and we were stunned when the call was reversed.
Despite the fact we were viewing the replays on a monitor screen about the size of a piece of bread, our viewings did not convince us the ball hit the ground--which to us, appeared to be the main issue.
The fact that so many differnt listeners called and e-mailed us with so many different opinions indicated just how difficult it was to say with certainty that the ball was either caught, or not controlled.
The additional fact the video review was so lengthy appeared to support the viewpoint that any ruling would not be "conclusive."
Having said all of that, I have a different perspective today, both figuratively and literally, as it relates to that particular play.
Let me say first up, at no point in Saturday's discussion did I ever maintain the officials were intentionally seeking to hurt BYU. While I said on the air the officials "were looking too hard" for a way to take the play away (from a particular player), I do not subscribe to any conspiracy theories, nor do I think BYU was intentionally victimized in any way. Indeed, I agree with Marc, that if the play involved a New Mexico receiver, we would have expressed the same viewpoints, regarding the lack of conclusive evidence.
I have received several helpful comments and e-mails from listeners who were viewing the game and replays on higher-resolution, big-screen TVs, and their viewings lend more credence to opinion than do my looks at the tiny TV in our booth. Many of these listeners/viewers maintain they definitely saw the ball come loose and/or hit the ground.
Which brings us to the two main issues:
1) did the ball hit the ground before control was established?
2) if the ball did NOT hit the ground, was control established before George was out of bounds?
On the first point, I think we have a situaiton in which many people will see the same replay and not be able to say conclusively that the ball hit the ground. And I think if that were the only thing the officials were looking for, the touchdown would have stood.
However, I now think that based on a replay I had not seen before this morning, that there MAY have been grounds to overturn the touchdown, on the SECOND issue: that of control before going out of bounds.
KSL TV had a camera in the end zone, directly behind Andrew George as the catch was made. You see George bringing the ball into his hands, falling to the ground just inside the end line, and attempting to secure a somewhat loose ball in his lap when his back hits the ground. By the time the ball is "secured," his left shoulder is already on the end line, or in other words, out of bounds.
Which brings me to the NCAA Football rule book, to A.R. 7-3-6-XII:
"If the receiver is INBOUNDS and is GOING TO THE GROUND and LOSES CONTROL, as long as the player REMAINS INBOUNDS and the ball NEVER TOUCHES THE GROUND (and the receiver regains control), it is a completed pass." (caps added, and parentheses included from scenario that precedes the ruling)
Again, it may indeed be that the ball touching the ground was not even the issue in question. If the issue was control of the ball (which was eventually established), the ruling could have been that control was only established once George was OUT OF BOUNDS. In which case, it would not be a catch.
Either way, things happened so quickly, and in such a condensed space, that it's still tough to say what happened on that play, "conclusively." And that, ultimately, is the main discussion point. Could anything about the play be judged "indisputably?" Probably not.
LB Bryan Kehl was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week today for his efforts in the win at New Mexico. It's Bryan's first such award--probably won't be his last.