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Pereira: Replay ref costs Oregon

Watch highlights of Stanford's OT win at Oregon, including the controversial game-tying TD.
Watch highlights of Stanford's OT win at Oregon, including the controversial game-tying TD.
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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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No. 2 Oregon should have ducked, but instead took one on the chin from Stanford late Saturday night.

GO UNDER THE HOOD

See the entire sequence of events that led to a controversial replay call and helped Stanford upset No. 2 Oregon on Saturday night.

The No. 13 Cardinal probably knocked Oregon out of the national championship hunt with a 17-14 win in overtime, while No. 1 Kansas State also was getting upset by Baylor, scrambling the BCS picture yet again.

But in my opinion, the Ducks have a big beef. Stanford benefited from a reversal on a touchdown call with less than two minutes in regulation that tied the game and helped send it into overtime.

POLL

  • Did the replay ref get the call right?
    • Yes, TD all the way
    • No, Oregon got robbed

Here was the situation: Stanford had the ball, first-and-goal at the Oregon 10-yard line with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter. Oregon led 14-7.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan attempted a pass to Zach Ertz in the end zone that originally was called incomplete. Ertz caught the ball, bobbled it and then hit near the end line. However, after a review, the call was reversed, awarding the Cardinal a touchdown.

I would not have overturned it. To me, the video was not clear one way or another. What concerns me is that the replay official injected himself into the game, when a call this important and this close should have been left for the officials on the field to decide.

Everybody in the country — the media, fans, teams, players — will have varied opinions about this play, and when you have varied opinions, the call should not have been overturned.

The rule states that a replay official shall not reverse a call on the field unless the video evidence convinces him beyond all doubt that the ruling was incorrect. It further states that without such indisputable video evidence, the replay official must allow the ruling to stand. Clearly, in most everyone's opinion, there was doubt.

Ertz's shoulder hit in bounds, but when he rolled out of bounds the question is: Did he bobble the ball as he was going out of bounds? It clearly looked like he did to me.

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And how about the irony for Stanford? Just a month ago, the Cardinal lost a game in overtime to Notre Dame when the official didn't reverse a call at the goal line when it looked like Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor scored the game-tying TD.

The replay official in that game chose not to reverse the call because he wasn't sure beyond a shadow of a doubt. While I can live with somebody not reversing a call, it's hard to stomach taking the call off the field, when there is clearly evidence of doubt.

However, at Oregon, this replay official not only injected himself into who won and lost this game, but he also changed the landscape of college football.

I'm beginning to wonder if replay has gotten beyond the point of just correcting obvious errors. Are we just getting into the minutia of things?

TV announcer Mike Patrick once said of replay: If you look at it the first time and see it's wrong, then change it. But if you have to look at the play over and over again, then leave it alone.

I agree.

The last bit of irony? Notre Dame, the team that upset Stanford a month ago on that controversial call, also will now benefit from a call that went the Cardinal's way. The Irish are expected to be the new No. 1 team in the BCS rankings when they are released Sunday.

I can understand why people don't like replay now.

Here's a look at a few other interesting calls from Saturday.

THE GAME: USC at UCLA

THE SITUATION: UCLA had the ball, first-and-10 at the UCLA 17-yard line with 13:49 left in the third quarter. UCLA led 24-20.

THE PLAY: UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley attempted a pass to tight end Joseph Fauria that was incomplete, but USC's Jawanza Starling was called for targeting on the play.

MY TAKE: This was not targeting. Targeting is defined as "targeting and initiating contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of the helmet.'' On this play Starling was making a legitimate attempt to break up the pass. Yes, there was helmet contact, but it was the front of Starling's helmet (face mask) and not the crown.

The problem is, the rule goes on to state, "when in question'' it is a foul. That statement alone leads to mistakes being made by officials, who lean toward erring on the side of safety.

This area of the game has changed so much over the last few years, but I think an official should be able to determine when one player is targeting another as opposed to a player trying to break up a pass that results in incidental helmet contact. This didn't turn out to have a critical impact on the game as UCLA ended up punting, but it is an indication that the "when in question'' rule can be taken too far and too literally.

 


 

THE GAME: Oklahoma at West Virginia

THE SITUATION: West Virginia had the ball, first-and-10 at the WVU 15-yard line with 7:33 left in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma led 38-36.

THE PLAY: West Virginia running back Travon Austin carried the ball for 54 yards to the Oklahoma 31-yard line. There were two infractions by Oklahoma on the play and both were enforced. The first penalty was an illegal use of hands on Julian Wilson and the second was a sideline interference penalty when the official ran into a bystander on the Oklahoma sideline.

MY TAKE: There's a reason there is a solid, white border in the team area of the sidelines. It's because when the official is running down the field to cover a play, he's not looking in front of himself and expects the area to be clear.

On this play, the side judge ran into an unidentified person dressed in a sweatshirt. So it makes no difference who the person was, he was in the team area, and therefore Oklahoma was responsible. Even though it was a foul that occurred during the play, it's enforced as a dead-ball foul. Since there was also a call of illegal hands to the face, both penalties got enforced correctly. It took the ball down to the Oklahoma 5-yard line, making it an 80-yard pick-up for WVU.

 


 

THE GAME: Ohio State at Wisconsin

THE SITUATION: Ohio State had the ball, fourth-and-6 at the Wisconsin 36-yard line with 11:08 left in the first quarter. There was no score.

THE PLAY: Ben Buchanan punted the ball 35 yards and as the ball approached the goal line, OSU's Orhian Johnson (who had one foot in the end zone) tapped the ball out before it crossed the goal line and the Buckeyes downed the ball at the 1.

MY TAKE: This is another play involving a major rule difference between the NCAA and NFL. When it comes to downing a punt at the goal line in the NCAA, it's the position of the ball that dictates whether or not it's a touchback. If the ball breaks the plane, a touchback is to be ruled.

In the NFL, it's the position of the body that dictates. Even though the ball may not have broken the plane, if the player who downs it is touching the goal line or in the end zone, it's a touchback. The ball and the body have to be out in the field of play.

 


 

THE GAME: Mississippi at LSU

THE SITUATION: Mississippi had the ball, first-and-10 at the Mississippi 47-yard line with 5:43 left in the third quarter. Mississippi led 21-20.

THE PLAY: Mississippi QB Bo Wallace attempted a pass to Jamal Mosely that ricocheted off him while being defended by Eric Reid. The pass was intercepted by Craig Loston, who returned it to the LSU 13-yard line. On the return, LSU's Jalen Mills was called for a personal foul for illegal contact above the shoulder on Wallace.

MY TAKE: There was lots of discussion by the announcers and my Twitter crew as to whether this was defensive pass interference. I do not think it was. Both Mosely and Reid had equal rights to the path of the ball. Reid was moving directly to the ball and he and Mosely collided shoulder to shoulder before the ball arrived. Reid did not play through the back and had a legal right to his position when the contact occurred.

This was a good job by the officials of not reacting to early contact and throwing a flag. On the other hand, it was a not a good job in calling the foul for the hit on Wallace during the return. If anything, Wallace initiated the contact and it was not targeting.

Tagged: Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Mississippi, LSU, Oklahoma, Zach Ertz, Jawanza Starling, Ben Buchanan, Eric Reid, Bo Wallace

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