Thursday, September 06, 2007

Was That Really a Fumble?

An interesting piece of NCAA rule has been posted on Volquest by someone, and carried over to Volnation by yours truly. But before I get into the conversation about the Ainge "fumble," I want to make it clear that Cal deserved to beat us, and this play, in the end, was not the reason our Vols lost. However, I think it's interesting to discuss the rule of this play, and the complete ignorance of the rule by Kirk Herbstreit and the officials.

Here is the play in question:

And here is the NCAA rule regarding a play like this. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE VERY END OF THE RULE!

"If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R.

So, now, *if* Ainge's forward motion has begun, the landing point of the ball, whether backward or forward, is irrelevant. Is Ainge's arm going forward? It's hard to tell, but I believe it is. Why? Because of the trajectory of the ball after the hit. If Ainge just has the ball in grasp without forward motion, does the ball fly UP like that? I don't think so. The call on the field was a fumble, which is baffling to me. The officials should know this rule, and should call that incomplete.

In the end, this play wasn't why Tennessee lost, but could it have changed the game? Sure! That early momentum can change everything after that moment. Like a butterfly effect, if you will. Still, Cal won this game because they were more prepared and wanted it more. I do wonder how it would have gone if this were called correctly.

Your thoughts?


Patrick said...

It is a really closer call, and based on a review in video probably has to go however it is called on the field.

Still, I disagree that Cal should have won anyway. UT's offense scored the same points as Cal's offense did. The difference in the game was this fumble-return-TD and the punt-return-TD. And in fact, I would say for most of the game our O was just a little better (both defenses stunk). The only times we really faltered were at the end of the 2rnd and 4th quarters. In both cases our running game was not a viable threat because of the time and score and so Cal was able to drop 8 players into coverage. Until then we had no problem moving the ball.

If you change the score situation and don't spot Cal a TD our offense is effective for longer and I like our chances.

This was a game where I wanted a do-over the minute it was over (not that we didn't lose legitimately, it is just I honestly think we could take 2 out of 3). I am sure Cal felt the same way last year.

Tim F. said...

When in doubt, the officials should rule it on the field as a fumble.

Once they rule it as an incomplete pass and blow the whistle, the play is dead and the call cannot be changed.

Once replayed, the replay official should know the rule and change it if the call should be changed.

But when in doubt, the official should make the call that is reversible, if the play is that close, as it seemed to be here.

Brian Laskaris said...

I think this play had a huge effect on the game. Momentum is a powerful thing and it definitely charged up the crowd and their team.

We'll never know what could have happened had this call gone the other way. Would we have driven the field for a TD as we did on our next possession? No way to say. But had UT taking the opening drive for a TD, I would have liked to see how Cal would have reacted down 7 just a few minutes into the game.