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Outgoing Big Ten referee says offsides that flipped Georgia-Alabama title game was incorrect

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There’s no interview subject better than someone heading off into retirement, and, it turns out, there’s no better retirement interview subject than an outgoing referee. They’ve got bridges to burn and scores to settle like the rest of us, only they know the game and the coaches like very few of us.

After 20 years refereeing Big Ten football games, Dan Capron called it quits at the end of the 2019 campaign, and in an interview posted Monday with the Chicago Tribune he came clean on all the calls he missed. Or, all the calls he saw the other refs on his crews missed.

And the biggest one, no doubt, was the offsides call against Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship.

To reset: Georgia carried a 13-0 lead into halftime, forcing Nick Saban to insert then-freshman Tua Tagovailoa into the game for the struggling incumbent Jalen Hurts. Alabama accepted the ball to open the second half, and Georgia’s defense immediately forced a three-and-out. Bulldogs wide receiver Tyler Simmons then blocked the ensuing punt, giving Georgia a golden opportunity to perhaps take a 20-0 lead and bury Alabama’s comeback before it could begin. Instead, Simmons was flagged for an offsides penalty that Capron now says was incorrect.

We had a miss. Alabama was on the ropes. They were deep in their own territory and they’re punting. The punt gets blocked. There’s a flag on the ground because the line judge had Georgia offside. Oh, boy. He (the player, Tyler Simmons) actually had a running start and timed it (properly). He wasn’t offside.

But that wasn’t my call. The blocking backs, a split-second before the snap, moved. That was a false start. That should have been my call. It still wouldn’t have been a blocked punt but instead a five-yard penalty against the offense. You never want to make a mistake of any kind in such a high-profile atmosphere.

Watch for yourself below. Not only was Simmons not offsides, he wasn’t even close.

The offsides penalty turned a 4th-and-8 into a 4th-and-3, so Georgia still got the ball, only with a roughly 50-yard difference in field position. Georgia went three-and-out on its first second half possession, Alabama scored a touchdown on its next chance and, of course, the Crimson Tide came back to win 26-23 in overtime.

Capron was also on the field for the infamous spot that decided the 2016 Ohio State-Michigan game. There, Capron doesn’t say definitively whether JT Barrett achieved the first down or was stopped short because, he says, no one can truly know for sure because ABC’s cameras didn’t do their job.

Of course the ruling on the field was that he made the line to gain (on fourth-and-1) and it was going to be a first down. The buzzers went off and it got kicked up to replay. I don’t know why the network didn’t have a camera right on the yard line. It was broadcasting malpractice. Because there was no camera on the yard line, there wasn’t a good angle to make the determination on an excruciatingly close call. I’m talking about within an inch. So replay couldn’t get a read on it, and they did what they’re supposed to do. The ruling on the field stands.

In this age of replay, it’s wild how much recent college football history has turned — consider how different Michigan and Georgia football feels right now had they won those games — on calls that technology should or could have corrected, but didn’t for one reason or another.

Speaking of replay, Capron weighed in that the scoop-and-score wiped off the board in December’s Fiesta Bowl never should’ve been overturned.

I’m not being critical of anybody, but once it goes upstairs, with the exception of targeting, the replay official is not supposed to re-officiate the play. The replay official is in the nature of an appellate court. And he is there to correct obvious mistakes. Unless there is indisputable video evidence that the call was wrong, the play stands.

Had the interview gone on a few questions longer, perhaps Capron could’ve told us where Malaysia Airlines flight 370 ended up.

FAU TE John Raine enters transfer portal

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One of FAU’s top receiving targets from 2019 could be on the move. Owls tight end John Raine has reportedly entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal database. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN was among the first to report the transfer portal update, via Twitter.

As a graduate transfer, Raines will be eligible to play this fall for whatever team he ends up joining. Last season, Raines caught 38 passes for 343 yards and six touchdowns, the second-most touchdown receptions on the team last fall.

FAU will certainly be a program in transition in 2020 with a new head coach and coaching staff. FAU is now losing four of its top five receivers from last season due to graduation or transfer. One of those leading receivers from last season was tight end Harrison Bryant, who is considered among the top tight end prospects in the NFL draft. No other tight ends caught a pass for the Owls in 2019.

 

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 5, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Bear Bryant’s great-grandson commits to play for Alabama
THE SYNOPSIS: Paul Tyson was rated as a four-star 2019 recruit on the 247Sports.com composite.  The Alabama coaching legend’s kin took a redshirt for his true freshman season after appearing in one game.  He’ll be a part of the competition to replace Tua Tagovailoa under center.  If when prep work for the 2020 campaign restarts, of course.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State committee approves two-year extension for Urban Meyer
THE SYNOPSIS: The extension would’ve kept Meyer in Columbus through the 2022 season.  Instead, eight months later, Meyer announced he was retiring at the end of the 2018 season.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State trustee who was “running out of sympathy” for “so-called victims” of Jerry Sandusky not seeking second term
THE SYNOPSIS: For once, the shipdit made the right call.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Ex-Oklahoma football player accused of pimping out former Sooner cheerleader
THE SYNOPSIS: There’s a headline you don’t see every day.  Lawrence Moore was a 2013 signee.  The cornerback played in two games as a true freshman for Oklahoma before leaving the program.  Micah Madison Parker was a member of OU’s cheerleading squad during Moore’s lone season with the Sooners.

2015

THE HEADLINE: UGA’s three-man QB battle whittled down to two?
THE SYNOPSIS: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park entered the spring as part of the under-center competition.  Exiting, it was down to Bauta and Ramsey.  In the end, neither started the opener.  That honor instead went to Greyson Lambert, who transferred in from Virginia in June.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Updated: Bobby Petrino placed on administrative leave
THE SYNOPSIS: Earlier in the day, the then-Arkansas head coach claimed he was alone on his motorcycle when he wrecked earlier in the month.  As it turned out, a female who wasn’t his wife was on the bike with him.  Jessica Dorrell became the student-athlete development coordinator for football the previous month.  Five days later, Petrino, who admitted to an affair with Dorrell, was fired.

2012

THE HEADLINE: USC it is: top ’13 QB tabs Trojans over Sooners, Tide, Huskies
THE SYNOPSIS: Max Browne chose USC over Oklahoma, Alabama and home-state Washington.  Redshirting as a true freshman, Browne spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as Cody Kessler’s primary backup. After winning the starting job in 2016, Browne lost his job to Sam Darnold following a 1-2 start.  A few months later, Browne transferred to Pitt.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Big Ten ‘super conference’ talk gaining momentum?
THE SYNOPSIS: The rumor du jour was that the Big Ten would move to 16 teams.  11 teams at the time, the Midwestern conference would instead add just three additional schools.  Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.

Lawyers for Mark Dantonio seeking legal fees from former MSU recruiting director Curtis Blackwell

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Lawyers representing former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio in a federal lawsuit filed by former Michigan State recruiting director Curtis Blackwell are seeking reimbursement for legal fees as the case appears to be heading for possible dismissal. According to Mlive.com, Dantonio’s legal team is seeking up to $214,153 to cover legal fees tied to the case.

One of Dantonio’s lawyers, Thomas Kienbaum, is optimistic his client will receive reimbursement but does not expect a full compensation.

“Have I ever gotten anything close to what I think this judge will award? Nope, never,” Kienbaum said, according to the MLive.com report. “I’ve never asked for anything close to this, never been an occasion for it.”

Blackwell filed a lawsuit against Dantonio and Michigan State University in Nov. 2018 on the claim a contract not being renewed was a violation of the contract. Blackwell also claimed Dantonio and the program were guilty of various NCAA violations connected to recruiting and job placement opportunities for recruits. Dantonio resigned as head coach of the program shortly after the lawsuit documents were submitted. Blackwell later filed another lawsuit piling on the program and Dantonio once again.

In March of this year, a federal judge has recommended the original lawsuit be tossed due to a belief Blackwell’s lawyers were misusing the court process to harass defendants, including Dantonio.

Penn State WR Mac Hippenhammer enters transfer portal

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Another Penn State wide receiver is entering the transfer portal. Mac Hippenhammer, who was not named on Penn State’s spring football roster, has reportedly entered his name to the NCAA transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Hippoenhammer is free to communicate with any other college football program interested in recruiting him to their program. Hippenhammer may also withdraw his name from the portal and stay at Penn State, but Penn State is no longer obligated to reserve his scholarship spot in the program.

Hippenhammer’s future at Penn State as a football player appeared to be going in the opposite direction as he has been focusing more on playing baseball. Hippenhammer did not participate in spring football practices in 2019 so he could participate in Penn State’s baseball season. He once again shifted his spring focus to baseball this spring before college baseball was shut down. This is why some of Hippenhammer’s transfer options may be slanted more toward baseball, one of the sports that was shut down by the NCAA this spring due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In 10 games in 2019, Hippenhammer caught one pass for 15 yards and returned two punts for 13 yards. Hippenhammer was a three-star addition of Penn State’s Class of 2017. He will still have one year of eligibility for football, although the NCAA tacking on an extra year of college eligibility for baseball would give Hippenhammer two years on the baseball diamond.

Penn State is already facing a bit of a questionable situation at wide receiver in 2020 following the early departure of KJ Hamler to the NFL and the transfer of Justin Shorter to Florida.