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Replay reversal nearly costs 'Bama
Good luck, BCS.
It was Championship Saturday in college football, but the BCS title game on Jan. 7 in Miami will be hard-pressed to produce the drama that took place in Atlanta as Week 14 and the regular season for all intents and purposes came to a close.
Notre Dame will play Alabama for the national championship, but the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia was a masterpiece every bit worthy of rewarding the winner with the crystal football.
Alabama 32, Georgia 28.
Shocking, but I want to focus on two plays that ended up in replay.
One play was reviewed faster than a New York minute (56 seconds), and that game was in Atlanta! That play could have been very pivotal in the outcome, while the other review took 4 minutes, 37 seconds, and did play a big role at the end.
But in the end, Alabama survived both reviews to earn the right to play for its third national championship in four years.
Here were the two plays in question:
THE SITUATION: Alabama had the ball, third-and-8 at the Georgia 32-yard line with 7:00 left in the third quarter. Georgia led 14-10.
THE PLAY: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron attempted a pass to Amari Cooper that was incomplete. Pass interference was initially called on Georgia’s Brandon Smith, but officials ruled that the pass was tipped and the flag was picked up, making it fourth down. On the next play, Georgia blocked Cade Foster’s attempted field goal and Alec Ogletree returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
MY TAKE: This was one of the biggest calls in the game and replay took just 56 seconds to review it. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t stop the game to review this longer.
The replay booth told the broadcasting crew that they did review it and that it was inconclusive.
There were two replays shown before the next play. There were probably at least 20 more cameras at this game, and there had to be plenty more angles to look and see whether the pass was actually touched by Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington at the line of scrimmage.
With a play of this magnitude, you need conclusive video evidence to prove, in fact, that it was inconclusive. You can’t do that with just two replays, especially if more were available, which I’m sure there were. Although I don’t think the call would have gotten overturned, I would have liked for them to have looked at more shots to make sure. Instead of getting a first down, Alabama was forced to attempt a field goal, which was blocked and returned for a touchdown to put Georgia up 21-10.
Some people like that the college system is quicker than the NFL’s. I don’t. I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
THE SITUATION: Georgia had the ball, first-and-10 at the Georgia 28-yard line with 51 seconds to play in the game. Alabama led 32-28.
THE PLAY: Georgia QB Aaron Murray attempted a pass to Chris Conley, which ricocheted off the hands of both Conley and Alabama defender Vinnie Sunseri, before finally being intercepted by Dee Milliner. After an official review, the play was overturned because the replay official ruled that the ball touched the ground.
MY TAKE: On Play 1 above, the replay official looked at only two angles. On this play he looked at six. But after seeing all six, you could clearly see that Sunseri did not have control when the ball first touched the ground. The conclusion is that the ground helped complete the catch and therefore, the pass was ruled incomplete.
It took a total of 4:37 before the next play, but in the end, the officials got a big call right.
I’d also like to take a look at a really interesting play in the Big 10 Championship.
THE SITUATION: Nebraska had the ball, first-and-10 at the Nebraska 45-yard line with 13:22 left in the third quarter. Wisconsin led 49-10.
THE PLAY: Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez completed a 55-yard pass to Jamal Turner for a touchdown. But after the catch, Nebraska’s Kenny Bell was called for unnecessary roughness on a blindside block on Wisconsin’s Andrew Green, placing the ball at the Wisconsin 38-yard line.
MY TAKE: This is not the football that everyone wants, but it is the football you’re going to get, so you might as well get used to it.
The emphasis of officiating is no different in college than it is in the NFL. It’s a full frontal attack on the prevention of concussions. Anything close to contact to the head or neck area of certain players in certain situations is going to be called.
If you don’t like it, then go watch another sport.
This is the new game. It’s not fair to take your frustration out on the officials. The rules are set up in the NCAA and NFL to try to protect players as best they can. Green was hit high by Bell, who hit him from his blindside. He had no way to protect himself. And while there was shoulder-to-shoulder contact, there was also helmet-to-helmet contact.
Pure and simple — the onus was on Bell. It’s his responsibility to lower his target area and hit Green below the shoulders and above the waist. Eventually, players will get that message. That is today’s game.
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