September 17th, 2006
The Oklahoma Sooners and Oregon Ducks played a classic today in Eugene. Unfortunately, it will go down forever as one of the biggest officiating debacles in the history of Oklahoma football. In a game that had tremendous swings both ways, the Sooners took control of the game in the fourth quarter and built a 33-20 lead with about six minutes remaining.
The Ducks then drove the ball and scored a touchdown with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Trailing by six and with only one remaining timeout, the Ducks had no choice but to try an onside kick. The kick traveled nine yards through the air and then was batted by an Oregon player and players from both teams then scrambled to recover the ball.
The officials on the field quickly rule the ball in the possession of the Ducks. The Sooners complained and the officials in the replay booth decided to take a look. While they were reviewing the play, television footage clearly showed that the ball was touched by an Oregon player before it traveled the required 10 yards. It seemed a no-brainer call that the call on the field would be overturned and the Sooners would receive possession (and be able to run out the game clock). The still image above clearly shows the Oregon player touching the ball before it reaches the 45 yard line.
Amazingly, when the official replay team finally completed its review it said that the receiving team (Sooners) touched the ball first and the ball became live (even if it hadn’t traveled the required 10 yards). The Ducks were awarded with possession of the ball and proceeded to score a few plays later to secure victory.
What makes the entire situation even more amazing is that Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick actually recovered the kick, but the officials never noticed. They were too busy trying to focus on the pile of players to find the ball. Replay again clearly shows Patrick recovering the ball as it squeezes out of the back of the pile. He stands up and tries to find an official to give the ball to. Several OU players are seen on the video trying to point this out to officials, but were ignored by the referees.
The two pictures below clearly show proof that Patrick recovers the ball as it bounces through the legs of the Oregon player. A video at the bottom of the page will show you this evidence in full game speed.
The pictures below are closer looks with circles around Patrick as he secures the loose ball. Tak a closer look:
The bottom line is that the call on the field should have been overturned by the replay officials since video evidence conclusively shows the Oregon player touching the ball nine yards after the kick. The Sooners should have been rewarded with the football and a chance to secure the game.
College football, the NCAA and the PAC-10 owe the Sooners an apology. Take a look at the video below for full speed action.
Here’s a few more views of the video footage of the onside kick. It’s simply amazing that the replay officials couldn’t get this right.