To review, or not to review, that is the question….answered by Pac-12 official
OXFORD, Miss. – The controversy over the third-down call at the end of the Cal-Ole Miss game is not a controversy – at least according to the Pac-12 Conference.
A representative of the league released a statement late Sunday night saying he believes the conference’s officials got the call right.
The play in question
Facing a third-and-goal at the Cal three-yard line, Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee rolled to his left and connected with wide receiver Elijah Moore. Moore’s feet were in the end zone, but the Pac-12 referee ruled the ball never crossed the plane of the goal line and he marked the ball inside the one.
As the clock melted toward zero and with no time outs, the Rebels were forced to run a fourth-down play. Plumlee was stopped short and the Bears won the game, 28-20.
The officials did review that final play of the game but refused to stop and look at the third-down play.
In the late night press release, David Coleman, Vice President of Officiating and Coordinator of Football Officials for the Pac-12, stated he believes the officiating crew made the correct call; however, he also indicates the crew “probably” should have stopped action for a review.
(Click here for the statement from David Coleman of the Pac-12.)
“I, along with other members of the CFO NCAA Instant Replay Committee, reviewed the pass play and agree that given the closeness of the call and that it was an ‘end of game scenario’ it probably should have been stopped by instant replay for review,” Coleman stated.
“However, as there was not irrefutable video evidence that the ruling of short of the goal line on the pass play could be overturned to a touchdown, it was the correct call,” continued Coleman.
A review is all Ole Miss wanted.
The video released by the Pac-12 with the statement shows the play from the sideline farthest away from Moore’s catch. In that particular video, there is no way to determine whether Moore possessed the ball in the end zone from that vantage point because at least two Cal players obstructed the view of the play from the camera.
As for those who felt a review would not be fair given that Ole Miss had no timeouts remaining and little time on the clock, Coleman referenced the guidelines for this situation, citing the NCAA’s 2019 Instant Replay Case Book:
“Be patient at the end of the game to not create an opportunity for the offense to have an additional play. If a play has a reviewable aspect, wait to see if the offense will be able to snap before time expires. If so, stop the game for a review. If not, let the game end and then review the play.”
— Noah Newman (@NoahNewmanWJTV) September 21, 2019
Ole Miss obviously had time to run another play because it did, indeed, run one after the third down throw to Moore. Plumlee took the snap with three seconds left and tried a quarterback sneak to get into the end zone that fell just short.
Afterwards, the officials did review the play – the fourth-down play – but not the pass to Moore.
‘Everybody knows it should have been reviewed…but time for us to move on’
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, who was asked at his Monday presser about the call and the PAC-12 statement, left little doubt as to his thoughts on the situation or what the Rebels must now do.
“Everybody knows it should have been buzzed and reviewed. That’s obvious, and I think everybody understands that. I think he (Moore) scored, but again, it’s time for us to move on and get ready for Alabama.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
A controversy involving Pac-12 officials is not new. Last season the league was under scrutiny after a call made in the Washington State-USC game. In a Yahoo Sports article last fall, it was reported there was a problem with the conference’s instant-replay procedures.
After the story was published, the PAC-12 sent an email to its athletic directors and coaches.
“ … The in-depth reporting makes it clear that we made a mistake in our procedures that we need to acknowledge and address immediately. In this regard, following my opening remarks at our Pac-12 men’s basketball media day later this morning, I will clearly share with the media in attendance the mistake we made in our (instant replay) Command Center procedures in mixing administrative oversight with real-time replay review calls made by our expert officials on the field, in-stadium and in the Command Center.
“More specifically, if we allowed any ambiguity about the relative responsibilities for decision-making, that was clearly a mistake. I will announce that effective immediately our conference leadership responsible for football and officiating, Woodie Dixon and David Coleman, while continuing their important oversight responsibilities, will not have any involvement in the decision-making behind replay reviews and collaboration in real-time.”
Just two months ago, an Associated Press article entitled “Beleaguered Pac-12 takes steps to address officiating,” outlined the steps the conference would be taking to help remedy their officiating shortcomings.
Clearly the PAC-12 conference still has much work to do on this matter.