How Bucky got screwed: Where was the “indisputable” evidence?

In their loss on Saturday night to the Michigan State Spartans, the Badgers spent the better part of two halves beating themselves with horrible special teams play (the three Badger amateur bullfighters who formed the punt team wall should have their scholarships pulled ala Robby Benson in the movie One on One) and a brain fart in the opponent end zone by Russell Wilson.

Nevertheless, the team staged an epic comeback for the ages against a brilliant Michigan State defense and it should have had an overtime period to try to pull the game and their National Championship dreams out of the East Lansing fire.  They never got it.

They were denied overtime by a review official who did not follow the letter, nor the spirit, of NCAA video review law.  The official overturned a call on the field without the necessary evidence for such action.

On the final “Hail Mary” play of the game, where Nichols of Michigan State corralled the deflected pass and then attempted to surge the football into the end zone, the referees on the field judged that he failed. They marked the Spartan receiver down on the one foot line, following his struggle with Badger linebacker Mike Taylor.  And it must be noted that the referee who made the initial marking had a perfect visual triangle of (a) the football; (b) the goal line; and (c) the vertical plane. 

Of course, the mark was reviewed, as it should have been.  I have no beef with that.  My beef is with the misapplication of video review rules.

Here is the precise statutory language by which NCAA review officials are governed (with my emphasis):

Philosophy

ARTICLE 2.  The instant replay process operates under the fundamental assumption that the ruling on the field is correct.  The replay official may reverse a ruling if and only if the video evidence convinces him beyond all doubt that the ruling was incorrect.  Without such indisputable video evidence, the replay official must allow the ruling to stand

The ruling on the field is presumed to be correct absent indisputable visual evidence to the contrary.  Any doubt as to that evidence must be resolved in favor of the field ruling. 

That is not how the rule was applied on Saturday night.  ABC showed every available angle.  Yet there was no replay evidence AT ALL showing that the leather of the football crossed the invisible plane of the goal line.  The best case for a crossing of the plane was made after the game when ESPN College Gameday superimposed their own vertical line and then enlarged the hands of the Michigan State player to show that the area where the head of the football probably rested in the Spartans hands (the football’s exact position was covered by Nichols’ and Taylor’s combined arms) appeared to barely cross ESPN’s artificial vertical line.

But, in order to overturn the existing call on the field, namely that Nichols was stopped short of the goal line. the video officials needed conclusive visual evidence that the football crossed the goal line.  I do not believe they had such evidence.  Even with ESPN’s video enhancement, one still had to presume where the football was in relation to the goal line. That means there was doubt as to whether Nichols broke the plane with the football.  The rule is clear.  Where any doubt exists, the ruling on the field stands.  Thus the video officials should have deferred to the call made on the field. For some reason, they did not.

Now, I have to presume that the video officials in East Lansing knew the NCAA video replay rule cited above. I can only conclude that they were confused as to the meaning of the adjective “indisputable” as it is used in those rules to modify the noun “evidence”.  For their future reference, I provide below the Webster definition of indisputable and then I use it in a sentence: 

Indisputable: established beyond doubt or question; definitely known; impossible to doubt or dispute

Used in sentence form: 

“The contention that the Wisconsin Badgers got homered by the officials who sat up in the video review booth on Saturday night is completely INDISPUTABLE“.

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4 Responses to “How Bucky got screwed: Where was the “indisputable” evidence?”

  1. brgulker Says:

    Huh. I am a U of M fan and was cheering for Wisconsin, and I thought it was clearly the right call.

    Did you see the overhead right over the goal line shot?

    It was obvious to me from that angle that Tue ball crossed the plain by several inches.

    • tywill33 Says:

      I’m not saying the ball did not cross the goal line. I think its more probable than not that it did. But that is not the standard of review the officials are charged with applying.

      I am saying because there was no definitive shot that can allow you to say beyond ALL doubt that the ball crossed the goal line, then by the letter of the law, the call on the field must stand. The rule is crystal clear. It does not leave room for speculation on the part of the replay official.

      If they want to change the rule so that all booth reviews are de novo, I have no problem with that. But, on Saturday night, I do not think the officials applied existing NCAA rules as they are started.

      That’s the screw. Not whether the ball crossed. Again, I think it probably did, but it is uncertain.

  2. brgulker Says:

    I want you to see that angle again after reading your post again…

    I don’t think you got screwed… just unlucky.

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