Do the same replay officials work with a particular crew of referees? I took issue here with Penn Wagers and his crew's interpretation of the rules that enabled Bama to squeak out a win in Oxford, and possibly cost Orgeron his job. Again, a penalty flag falls from the replay booth, thrown by this same crew, this time in the Holiday Bowl, resulting in a 50 yard penalty, a change of possession, and a total change of momentum. The "Longhorn Steve Bartman" interference/noninterference is yet another egregious miscarriage of football justice by this horrendous SEC crew.
The replay showed that there was an referee right on that sideline very near the "toucher" with an unimpeded view of the play as it happened. He didn't blow the play dead nor did he throw a flag when the Texas staffmember reached for the ball. That means the call on the field was "no interference." Therefore, video evidence had to be indisputable that he touched the ball. I looked at it for 20 minutes on super slo-mo in hi-def, and I really don't think he touched it. Herbstreit and Musberger, idiots as they may be, disputed whether it was touched during the whole review. If there was dispute, then, by very definition, it's disputable.
But okay, whatever. Give Wagers his (latest) moment in the spotlight to deliver the shocking reversal. Even still, he doesn't have to make it a 50 yard penalty (50 because the Longhorn player who eventually recovered the lateral was tackled at the ASU 43; after the microscopy from the booth, the ball was spotted at the 7). The language from Rule 9-1 is as follows:
ARTICLE 4. a. No substitute, coach, authorized attendant or any person subject to the rules, other than a player or official, may interfere in any way with the ball or a player while the ball is in play.
PENALTY—15 yards from the basic spot. The referee may enforce any penalty he considers equitable, including awarding a score.
It was obvious the Texas dude thought the play was already dead and he wasn't trying to interfere. Also, I really don't think he touched the ball. The equitable thing to do would be to declare the ball dead at that spot, which would leave the ball in ASU's possession, but it would be 4th and forever. Nevertheless, Penn Wagers thinks it's equitable to enforce a 50 yard penalty. Wow.
To me the right call was actually never mentioned on TV or by the refs. It looked to me that the staffmember never touched it, but a Texas player trying to save it from going out of bounds immediately after the "interference" was touching the ball at the same time his hand hit the chalk of the boundary. Should have been blown dead, ASU ball at that spot.
If Penn Wagers loves the esoteric nuances of the rules so much, how come he never pulls out that "whatever is equitable" clause?