The use of instant replay in college football is great. Not that the on-field officials don’t normally do a good job, but calls are inevitably missed. In the most obvious cases the wrong is righted through replay. Which makes an officiating crew committing egregious mistakes at the end of a game even more frustrating, as was the case with the end of the Wisconsin, Arizona State game on Saturday.
Wisconsin was trailing 32-30 with 18 seconds remaining, and had the ball. A completed pass brought the ball to the Arizona St. 13-yard line, where the Badgers attempted a play to move the ball to the center of the field for a potential game-winning field goal.
Normally it would have been a formality, except Badgers quarterback Joel Stave ran into the back of a lineman’s leg, where his knee may or may not have touched the ground. Then Stave placed the ball down on the turf while standing again, instead of handing the ball to an official.
Chaos and controversy ensued. Two seconds after the play, three Arizona State players pounced on the ball claiming the play was still live, thinking that Stave had fumbled when he put the ball back on the turf. Then Stave distracted the referee while the umpire was trying to pull bodies off the ball.
:07, :06, :05…
Stave and the Badgers then suddenly realized “My God the clock’s running!” and hurried to the line, but it was too late.
The game was over, and the officials ran out of Sun Devil Stadium in a dead sprint, WWE fashion.
And it was off to SportsCenter.
The Badgers deserve some blame as they blew the basic fundamentals on the final play. But the reaction by the officiating crew was nothing short of unprofessional and unacceptable. They will almost certainly be reprimanded by the Pac-12 this week.
After further review, time should have been put back on the clock based on the following:
ASU claiming possession should had been a red flag for the officiating crew. Stop the clock, make sure the correct call was made, like officials do any other time.
Had protocol been followed, there would have been time remaining.
Did Stave in essence, fumble? Did his knee touch the ground when he made contact with the lineman? They play should have been reviewed. Some visual evidence suggests that his knee did touch the ground.
At best it appears inconclusive, so the play (no fumble) on the field would have stood. But a closer look of it was not shown because you know: SportsCenter is next!
I will also also criticism towards Wisconsin head coach Gary Anderson. As the zebras were running out of Sun Devil Stadium like it was on fire, Anderson needed to channel his inner Jim Harbaugh or Bill Belichick. Throw a good, old-fashioned eight-year old tantrum. Tackle the official if necessary. Have the players block the entrance to the tunnel if they have to. The Badgers sometimes are too classy for their own good.
So I’m also blaming the Badgers and even ESPN. Yes, The Worldwide Leader is now helping to decide games, because SportsCenter had already been waiting an hour with the Floyd Mayweather recap, where one of the judges was apparently as clueless as the Wisconsin/Arizona State officials.
Mike Pereira said virtually the same thing.
Here are the telling screenshots of the game’s final moments:
Did Stave’s knee hit the ground at this point? From this angle it appears it did:
Stave then “downs” the ball, but is standing:
ASU players pounce on what they believe might be a live ball. Note the actions of the umpire:
Stave starts to argue with referee, oblivious to the clock:
Stave casually strolls back to line of scrimmage:
ASU players surround umpire, who has still not marked ball:
:01 second left:
Ballgame! Meanwhile umpire looks more ready to blitz for the Sun Devils.
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