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Archive for the ‘Officiating’ category

Small rules quirk that drives me nuts

At the BYU game, a small rules quirk that only comes up a few times a season for each team reared its ugly head.  It’s the after the play personal foul, when the team just got a 1st down.

The penalty is assessed after determining if the team got the yardage for 1st down (so it will be 1st down), but before the next 1st down marker is set (so it will be 1st and 10, not 1st and 25).  It’s always bugged me.  The penalty should either be assessed before the 1st down is determined or after the new marker is set.  Doing it in between just doesn’t make any sense.

And of course, like all reffing issues this year, it burned the Bears.  When BYU gets an after the play personal foul, they had just got 1st down, so it doesn’t meaningfully hurt their offensive rhythm.  When it happens to the Bears, we were just a yard short of the 1st down marker, so it’s 2nd and 16 instead of 1st and 10.

It doesn’t make any sense and the rule should be changed.

Weird corner-case rule

I was reminded of an odd-rule that exists in both college and pros last night watching the 49’ers pre-season game. An offensive player committed a dead-ball foul just after making a first down. The result was the ball was moved back 15 years (it was a personal foul) and it was 1st and 10.

This has never made any sense to me. Shouldn’t it be 1st and 25?

If it’s 1st and 10 and the running back gains 5 yards and when he gets up he head-butts a defensive player (a dead-ball, personal foul), the ball will be moved back 15 yards and it will be 2nd and 20 instead of 2nd and 5. Those 15 yards don’t magically disappear as far as down and distance is concerned. Why if he instead gains 12 yards, does it not affect the post-foul down and distance?

Of course there are two possible ways to do it, both of which would make sense to me. If he gained 12 yards, it could be 2nd and 13, moving the ball back for the penalty before determining whether a 1st down was reached. Or it could be 1st and 25, moving the ball back after moving the chains. (BTW, 1st and 25 makes more sense to me, particularly since dead-ball fouls can happen a long time after the previous down is complete but still before the huddle of the next.)

But doing this weird ‘after the 1st down is reached but before the new chains are set’ thing just doesn’t feel right.

Anyone else ever thought this?

Stanford’s “Horrible Call”

I am not one who feels questioning the refs is out of bounds, as I frequently comment on their performance. However, I think the outrage over the no-touchdown call at Notre Dame is pretty ridiculous.

First, was it reasonable that the on-the-field ref didn’t call it a touchdown? Of course it was. Taylor was stopped, rolled to the side and didn’t really look like he had reached as far as he had. Most of us thought he didn’t get in on first watch. It wasn’t until we saw a replay we thought he might have got in.

So the fact that it went to the booth called a non-touchdown shouldn’t outrage anyone.

Now, when it goes to the booth, there must be UNDISPUTED evidence to overturn the call. With that in mind, I ask you to watch the following youtube clip, starting at the 14 second mark and watch the LEFT ELBOW of Taylor:

As Taylor extends his body forward at the 18 second mark, the front of his body falls toward the turf. Between the 20 and 21 second mark, his fall is halted, his upper.right elbow jerks downward and his body bounces. At this point, the ball is clearly not over the goal line. He then reaches forward and places the ball over the goal line.

I submit to you that his left elbow hits the ground at that moment, when his fall was halted.

Now, you can’t see the elbow either in this angle or the higher on from the same size, because it is obscured by a Notre Dame player’s calf. Is it possible the bounce is from something else and his elbow didn’t touch?

Yes, it is.

But the burden of proof is on the other side, and it’s very reasonable to say his elbow hit right there, and that without proof to the contrary, then he’s down before the reach forward with the ball. And I’d go even further than the burden of proof to say it is more likely than not. There’s no other explanation I can see of why he bounced like that. He bounced because the elbow touched.

This was no egregious call. Ted Miller, the guys on the Pac-12 network including Neuheisel, and others have been ranting and raving about this call as if the video evidence is conclusive. It’s not. It was a marginal call that could have gone either way and is very defensible being called down.

But, by all means, since we’re playing Stanford on Saturday, keep this going. I’d like Stanford to be consumed by this call for the next 6 days until they have something new to complain about Saturday evening.

Instant replay issue: Using TV cameras

This is something I’ve thought of before, but it came back to my mind after reading a quote from a replay booth ref on CGB:

How many camera angles do you get?

it’s totally based on the TV crew. For Oregon/Washington I had 17 cameras. For the Big Game there were only 7. Replay officiating is based totally on an entertainment industry. Once I requested a goal line shot but couldn’t get it because that camera was busy showing crowd shots!

In other words, the replay official is dependent on whatever shots the TV crew gives them. I know this isn’t a big surprise to anyone, but I don’t think people have thought of the implications. TV crews are NOT impartial. Sometimes that’s explicitly obvious, such as Cal games that don’t get picked up by the Pac-12 contracts and the Cal Athletic department gets Comcast to put the game on TV. But it’s true of the media staff even when the game being broadcast by a supposedly neutral party. You don’t think the average cameraman and director who work games in the Bay Area are sports fans and tend to favor the local teams? Of course they are. It’s a big part of the reason they’re in that business, is because they are sports fans and they like to be at the games.

So what’s the result?

The result is that anything that might be controversial is going to have a lot of cameras on it and the producer in the truck is going to be working hard to getting all the right shots. For something that they’d rather not have reviewed, they’re already off taking shots of the crowd.

It’s not even purposeful or intentional, it’s just human nature. When I watch a Bears game and Allen is tip-toeing down the sideline, I’m going to be less likely to inspect every step as a fan of the opponent would, without even trying. When it’s the opposing team tip-toeing, my first question is going to be to want to see every step in slow motion, freeze-framed as each foot is on the ground.

I don’t know what the solution should be. I’m generally not opposed to instant replay (within reason) and I understand the cost issues with trying to have a second video crew who’s whole purpose is for instant replay. But at the same time, it seems to me to be an overlooked component of officiating. Maybe at a minimum requiring certain shots, like a camera on the goal-line that must be pointed at the goal-line at all times (or something similar) should be required. I don’t know.

But what we have right now doesn’t seem fair to me.