Georgia Escapes Tennessee in Overtime With Some Help

The Georgia Bulldogs narrowly escaped the upset-minded Tennessee Volunteers in overtime 34-31 in SEC action on Saturday. The game was decided by the replay officials who, in our opinion, robbed the Volunteers of a touchdown and decided the outcome. Pig Howard stretched the ball out for the goal line and appeared to have crossed the goal line for a go-ahead touchdown. The ball popped out of his outstretched hand, but the referee signaled a touchdown. This fact is very important.

Remember back in the day when the NFL went to instant replay? What was it supposed to do? It was supposed to fix an obvious bad call on the field. Some were opposed to its implementation back then fearing what would happen. Their fears have proven correct.

College football resisted going to replay at first. But in 2003 in a game between Florida State and Florida where the officiating was so bad that the ACC officials doing the game were suspended afterwards, college football had no choice anymore. They had to go to replay too.

But how many times over the years have we heard “indisputable video evidence” is supposed to be required to overturn a call on the field? It has been too many to count. But yet, in yesterday’s games there were TWO overturned calls on plays where there was NO indisputable video evidence. Both of these games, the Georgia Tennessee games and the Washington Huskies at Stanford Cardinal game could have significant impact on who plays for the national championship.

How do we know that there was no indisputable evidence? Because people are disputing them. If you showed ten people the Pig Howard play, at least five of them would say it was a touchdown. I think eight or nine would say it. For the play to be overturned, then that standard is supposed to be what? ZERO! It is supposed to be INDISPUTABLE! That means that even the most biased Tennessee fan would have to look at it and say, yes, that was a bad call.

OK, that may be asking too much, but surely everyone other than the biased UT fan should agree it was a bad call. That did not happen. How do we know this? Because I am not a Tennessee fan and I do not believe it was a bad call. Therefore it should not be overturned.

To be fair, had UT scored, there is no guarantee they would have won the game. UGA knew all they needed was a field goal so they played conservatively on offense in their possession. Had they needed a touchdown, they would have played that possession a whole lot differently and may have tied the game back up and won in Double OT. We don’t know.

In the Huskies-Cardinal game, a fourth down pass reception for a first down was overturned even though no camera angle could show that the ball was trapped, unless the replay booth is looking at different camera angles the TV audience is not being shown. The Huskies were down by three points at the time, but were very capable of tying the game or even winning it. Instead, Stanford ran out the clock to hold on to win 31-28.

Somewhere, somebody needs to sit these replay refs down and teach them the meaning of “indisputable.” If people are disputing your call, it is not indisputable. It is not the replay officials job to officiate the game. It is their job to correct mistakes.

James Folsom is a regular contributor to