First things first—I’m not one to complain about one or two missed calls by the officials in college football games. In my philosophy, the best way of keeping this stuff from affecting the outcome of the game is to have played well enough so that you end up with a lead that makes these calls as irrelevant as they are controversial.
The truth is that the 2014 Iron Bowl was rather poorly officiated. There were missed calls all over the field; during almost all parts of the game. I really don’t blame the officials (much) because they have a difficult job to do. They have to make snap decisions during situations that can take seconds—if not fractions of a second—to unfold. But that’s why God invented Instant Replay and review.
The fact that this was a blown call that was subsequently upheld upon further review bears some scrutiny.
To set the stage, Auburn was up 33-27 with under five minutes left in the 3rd quarter. AU QB Nick Marshall attempted a pass to Quan Bray, who was being covered by UA’s Bradley Sylve. The play was close to the sideline, and both guys got airborne in order to get the ball.
It appeared that both players had their hands on the ball, prompting a simultaneous possession call. The issue is that the officials on the field awarded the reception to Bray, even though Sylve’s left foot clearly came down in bounds, while neither of Bray’s did.
Fox’s Mike Pereira weighed in on the call, and decided that the officials made the wrong call, and that they doubled down on the error upon further review.
This was a very difficult call to make on the field, because it was really tight and I think with simultaneous control of a ball in the air, you always think about the ball being awarded to the offense.
However, this rule interpretation is very specific on this play. It says when players are up in the air, like Bray and Sylve were, it's the player who comes down with it first in bounds, who should be awarded the ball. And in this case, Sylve's left foot hit first in bounds.
It's very clear in replay that the ball was intercepted by Sylve and should have been awarded to Alabama. But Auburn got the ball on a 35-yard pass completion and then went on to score a field goal on the possession to give the Tigers a 36-27 lead.
The emphasis above is mine.
By any objective analysis of the play, it should have been either an incomplete pass, or an interception. Neither of Bray’s feet landed in bounds. And while both players clearly had their hands on the ball, Sylve’s left foot did.
I don’t have an embeddable video or GIF of the play (help me out here if you do), but here’s the link to Pereira’s analysis.
Thankfully, the play didn’t affect the outcome of the game. When such calls do affect the outcome, I fall back on my argument that it was your own damned fault for letting it do so.
My co-bloggers have disagreed with me. As have my fellow denizens on Twitter and Facebook. That’s Ok. While I stick to my philosophy, it’s hard for me to argue that Bama just doesn’t seem to get the home cooking that other SEC teams do. That’s Ok, too. Well, maybe not Ok. But something that I think, as Alabama, this program has learned to overcome, or just get over.
We’re Bama. Since when was there not a target on the back of that Crimson jersey?