For those who missed it, the end of Toledo-Syracuse game this past Saturday was marred by controversy and an inexcusable officiating blunder. Because fo the two teams involved, the botched call didn’t get much attention nationally, but it should’ve.
Background: with just over two minutes remaining, the Orange scored a touchdown that put them up 29-27 pending the extra point. The subsequent attempt sailed wide left, but inexplicably was ruled as a made PAT on the field. That bad call was trumped by the replay official, who confirmed the call on the field and gave the Orange a 30-27 lead despite irrefutable visual evidence that the kick clearly passed in front of the left upright..
The Rockets then kicked a field goal to tie the game and force overtime, but lost on a three-pointer during the first extra session. Without the blown call, the Rockets’ field goal at the end of regulation would’ve likely given the MAC school an impressive road win over a BcS school.
Instead, they went back to Ohio with another loss. And, as if to put a cherry on top of the unjust desserts, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
The MAC’s commissioner, Jon Steinbrecher, released a statement Monday afternoon confirming that, based on the NCAA’s rulebook, there is no recourse for either the school or the conference.
Since the conclusion of the Toledo-Syracuse game, I have been in communication with Big East Commissioner, John Marinatto, along with Rogers Redding, Secretary-Rules Editor of the NCAA Football Rules Committee. By rule once the game is declared over the score is final and there is no recourse to reverse an outcome. (Rule 1, Section 1, Article 3, Paragraph b of the 2011 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations.)
I share the frustration and regret with our Toledo coaches, student-athletes, administration and supporters of the Rockets football program. Immediately following the game, Bill Carollo, Coordinator of Officials of the Midwest Football Officials Alliance (MAC, Big Ten, Missouri Valley), reviewed the play and was in contact with Big East Coordinator of Officials, Terry McAuley, and both officials agreed that the ruling on the field and replay official both failed to make the correct call.
As disappointing as this situation is, we are confident that proper action will be taken by the Big East Conference.
The rule Steinbrecher references comes from the 2011 NCAA Rules and Interpretations, and reads as follows: “Rule 1, Section 1, Article 3, Paragraph b, states, “When the referee declares that the game is ended, the score is final . … By rule, once the game is declared over the score is final and there is no recourse to reverse an outcome.”
Of course, Steinbrecher is correct; the Rockets do not have any recourse according to the NCAA’s rules. That doesn’t make it right, though.
As one MAC official emailed over the weekend, “imagine the national backlash there would be if this happened to a school like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas or Oklahoma…or in a national title game.”
Or, better yet, the outcry if this had occurred during an SEC game. Holy hell; the Internet may have swallowed itself whole if two SEC schools had been involved.
Much like the infamous Fifth Down game two decades, however, this one will live — unchanged — in infamy.
UPDATED 4:49 p.m. ET: Toledo athletic director Mike O’Brien has released a statement echoing the tone from the MAC commissioner.
“While we are obviously disappointed for the student-athletes, coaches and fans that an officiating error played a role in the outcome of our football game at Syracuse, we accept the ruling from the Big East and the NCAA Football Rules Committee that the final outcome of the game cannot be reversed. We appreciate the efforts of those who looked into this matter. We consider the matter closed and now look forward to the remainder of the Rocket football season.”