After further review….wait, no review?
OXFORD, Miss. – The NCAA might want to rethink its replay rule.
If the next-to-last play of the Ole Miss-Cal game was not to be reviewed, the rule should be thrown away. There is no need to ever review another play in college football.
Trailing 28-20 with less seconds to go, John Rhys Plumlee hit Elijah Moore with an apparent two-yard scoring pass to put Ole Miss to within a two-point conversion of sending the game into overtime. But the officials ruled the ball had never crossed the goal line and marked it at the one.
With the final seconds ticking away and no time outs and facing fourth-and-goal, the Rebels were forced to run a play and Plumlee was stuffed by the Cal defense as the clock hit all zeros.
Final score: Cal 28, Ole Miss 20.
The Ole Miss sideline pleaded for the third-down play to be reviewed, but the request fell on deaf ears and the Bears snuck out of Oxford with the win.
“I don’t know what the protocol is, but you would think in a critical situation like that, I mean….the clock is running and we’ve got to run a play, but they (referees) have the ability to stop it and review it in a critical situation,” Ole Miss offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said.
“So I don’t know what the protocol is, or I’m sure they’re going to be talking about it but I haven’t seen it (replay). I’ve had people text me or whatever and say he (Elijah Moore) was in, but I’ll know more once I see film or see TV.”
One person who does not have to wait for the film is the man who caught the ball.
“I did think I was in, but the game is over with now and we have to move on to Alabama,” Moore said. “We have just got to be better, point blank.”
Head coach Matt Luke discussed the play at the postgame presser.
“I thought at the very least that they were supposed to go review every play,” Luke said.
“At the very least I thought it should’ve been buzzed and reviewed, but it’s fourth down so you can’t wait. You’ve got to get to the next play call, but I think at the very least it could’ve been buzzed and looked at. But we didn’t have that time and we couldn’t spike it, so our only option was to do the rush.”
Put it this way….if it WOULD have been ruled an OM TD, you can BET there would’ve been a review. So explain to me why clock wasn’t stopped for video review of whether the ball crossed the plane? The PAC 12 officiating crew should’ve reviewed this! (Video: @Derrell_PharmD, RW) pic.twitter.com/cGVOwHHpsc
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) September 21, 2019
Apart from the ruling the ball had not crossed the plane of the goal, there was another aspect that is a mystery. If a player is in the end zone and he catches the ball, how is it marked three feet back from where he caught it?
If anything, the ball should have at least been placed inside the one, and at most, the review official in the press box should have stopped play to properly mark the ball.
That point was not lost on Ole Miss interim athletic director Keith Carter. He mentioned where the ball was placed in his official statement.
“We are extremely disappointed with the officiating at the end of the game and are expecting a full explanation from the PAC-12 regarding the call and subsequent non-review of the 3rd down play. We feel strongly that the play should have been reviewed by the PAC-12 officials in the review booth. Even if the play didn’t result in a touchdown, the spot of the ball on 4th down was questionable.”
— Keith Carter (@KeithCarterOM) September 21, 2019
Realistically, there is nothing that can be done about the situation. Cal gets the win and remains undefeated, while Ole Miss falls to 2-2
But the non-review could come back to haunt the Rebels later. Ole Miss is bowl eligible this season, but still needs six wins to earn a bid. If that call had been reviewed and Moore credited with a touchdown and then Ole Miss was successful on a two-point conversion, the game would have gone into overtime.
If an extra period was needed, momentum was clearly on the Rebels’ side.
With three wins, Ole Miss would only need three more in the next eight games. Now the Rebels need four.
Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Missouri, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State and Mississippi State are still left on the schedule so Ole Miss will need to get four victories from that pool of solid teams.
Should Ole Miss finish with five wins and miss a bowl game in December, all that needs be done is to look back on an early afternoon in September to explain it.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.