It can be hard to blame the referees for a loss when a football team squanders trips to the red zone, botches a fake punt, fumbles a kick return, loses a fourth down gamble and also misses a field goal. But good luck trying to tell that to Virginia Tech fans after the controversial ending to the 2012 Sugar Bowl. Although Frank Beamer's Hokies were uncharacteristically mistake prone on special teams, Tech feels incredibly hard done by a controversial replay review that overturned a touchdown during the overtime session in the loss to Michigan.
On the first possession of OT, Tech appeared to have scored a crucial touchdown on an acrobatic, all-out diving catch by wide receiver Danny Coale. Michigan defenders immediately, speculatively, began signaling that Coale had not completed the catch. But the official right on top of the play looked, paused, and then raised his arms to signal for six points. Touchdown!
Not so fast. Before the Hokies' replacement kicker could poke the PAT through the uprights, play was paused for a review of the play. Watching the replay, it was clear that there were several things the official would be looking at on the very close call. Had Coale come down in bounds? Did he have possession of the ball when he hit the ground? Was that elbow down? Did the ground help him control the ball?
Given two chances to make the call at the Superdome, the on-site officiating crew made two calls. On the second, the original call was overturned.
Coale said after the game that he thought he scored and it would have been hard to reverse, "but they obviously saw something I didn't see."
The ESPN broadcast team and analysts seemed to think the touchdown should not have been overturned and were not shy about it during the broadcast. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated felt the same way. Even Michigan coach Brady Hoke candidly admitted during a postgame interview that he thought the original touchdown call would be confirmed during the replay review.
What do you think?