The Flag Heard ’round the World

Written September 16th, 2011 by Eric

This article originally ran on September 8th, 2010 in the week leading up to last year’s battle between Ohio State and Miami. We post it again heading into tomorrow’s game with the Hurricanes.

This? This could be legal.

There have been few calls in the history of college football that have had earth shattering impacts on the entire collegiate fanbase.  The mysterious 5th down in the Missouri/Colorado game comes to mind as one of the absolute worst.  But in more recent times the first call that will pop off the tongue of anyone old enough is the “Pass Interference” call in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

There has been an awful lot of time wasted in discussion of the topic.  Absolutely everyone has an opinion on it whether or not their favorite team was directly involved in the game.  It has gotten absolutely out of control despite some attempts to end the controversy and despite a few posts of a more vociferous variety. Of course, there have been more than a few attempts to exacerbate it and turn it into a larger than life disaster of epic proportions.

ESPN has begun talking up the pass interference call, along with other major media outlets, mostly because they know the topic sells.  This is, of course, one reason why I’m going to get my shot in on the argument – I’m tired of the fact that this is the one play from that game that everyone remembers.

My hope is to objectively analyze the play from the very basics of the rules.  The question in mind is “Does the defensive player clearly violate the rules as set forth in the College Football Rulebook?”  Of course, in this day and age we’re capable of doing that simply by downloading the appropriate rulebook (pdf)!

Yea yea, that’s not the 2002 rulebook.  I pull that one out later.  That’s the current rulebook which I desperately wanted an excuse to toss out there for you, our loyal readers, to see and enjoy this season.

Lets start off by first setting the stage.  During the first overtime of the 2002 National Championship, Maimi of Florida held the lead after scoring a touchdown on their attempt.  Ohio State was trying to drive the 25 yards but had met stiff resistance.  A spectacular 17 yard play on 4th and 14 to Michael Jenkins put the Buckeyes in good field position but it was squandered.  With the Buckeyes looking at 4th and a 3 from the 5, Craig Krenzel dropped back to throw..

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