Take a look at the photo above. Now look at it again. And just for shits and giggles, take a glance one more time.
Any human being with functioning eyesight can see that what you are looking at above is not, in fact, a catch. That is an incomplete pass, and there is absolutely no other interpretation possible. The ball hit the ground, very clearly, making it an incomplete pass.
In real time, it was not so easy to tell. As a result, the officials on the field in the Ohio State-Penn State matchup at Beaver Stadium Saturday night called it an interception. No worries, as the replay clearly showed what we see in the screen grab above. The ball hit the ground, the pass is incomplete and the ruling on the field should be overturned.
Only it wasn't. The "interception" stood because, according to Big Ten officials, the proper video feed was not available to the referees. Pardon my French but … What the fucking fuck? Are you fucking kidding me? The entire point of the replay system is to get the call right. Instead, these laughable B1G officials got the call blatantly wrong due to technical difficulties — technical difficulties that could have been corrected had anyone involved in the game simply watched the television replay. As a result, the heavily favored Buckeyes got great field position to start the game, scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive — aided by an obvious missed false start penalty on Ohio State — and went on to remain undefeated in a 31-24 overtime victory. It was a play that had a direct impact on the outcome, one that is inexcusable on every level. But wait — it gets worse. Not only did the officials gift Ohio State a 7-0 head start, but they also gave the Buckeyes a much easier field goal attempt than they should have had, allowing Ohio State to snap the ball on a field goal attempt three full seconds after the play clock expired. The delay of game penalty would have made the 49-yard attempt a 54-yard attempt — certainly no gimme.
But wait, it gets even better. After Penn State scored a touchdown to take the lead in overtime and Ohio State followed up with a TD of its own, Nittany Lion linebacker Mike Hull was called for launching on the ensuing extra point, which was enforced on the next possession. Taking a look at the replay, Hull very clearly did not launch off a teammate to get more height — he jumped on his own accord and landed on his teammate, not a penalty.
The Buckeyes thus got the ball at the 12.5-yard line on their second possession, having to go only half the distance as they should have due to yet another obviously incorrect call.
Oh, then there is the fact that Penn State was forced to use a timeout it shouldn't have when it was driving to end regulation with a chance to win the game because the officials started the clock on a play they shouldn't have. Then, they charged Penn State for a timeout when head coach James Franklin was trying to explain that the time was wrong. Franklin was furious, claiming he never called timeout. That timeout would have been a huge asset on that final drive. Yes, Penn State was able to tie it and force overtime with a Sam Ficken field goal and even had a baffling spike when the clock was stopped, but that timeout would have allowed the Nittany Lions at least one more shot at the end zone to get the victory. Yet that chance was taken away, as was just about every chance.
Listen, I'm not one of those fans who typically cries about officiating. I don't think there are conspiracies, and I know refs are only human. But Saturday night, these calls, none more blatantly incorrect than the "interception" that directly led to seven Ohio State points, robbed a desperate and undermanned Penn State team from a huge victory.
I feel so bad for the Penn State players. Those kids played their damn hearts out and deserved a win for their hard work. The defense was phenomenal, with Mike Hull flying all over the field, Anthony Zettel scoring on a pick six and the entire unit making a red-hot Ohio State offense work for everything. And the offense, while it was dormant in the first half, came charging back and did enough to win.
But it proved to be too much to overcome the inept officiating in this game. The Buckeyes, a much more talented and much more complete team, already had the advantage. Then they got more than an extra hand, playing with 12 men the entire game. It was a bullshit display, plain and simple.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have any gripes with the Buckeyes in the game. They were resilient and took advantage of every break the officiating accommodated them. They proved their mettle and never lost focus despite the comeback and the chaos.
The complete and utter failure on the part of the officials and the replay system is inexcusable, however. These were such blatant blunders that, quite frankly, everyone involved even remotely in that "interception that wasn't" replay should be fired and never allowed near a football field again.
It's really a shame, because that game Saturday night was a great one. An underdog fell behind 17-0 to a heavy favorite, rallied back despite everything going against it and pushed a national power to the brink. Yet the Nittany Lions were shortchanged because of a total failure on the part of the game's gatekeepers.
Penn State did not lose that game Saturday night. The officials took it away from those kids, and they should be held accountable for that pathetic display.
They say if you blame the officiating, you didn't deserve to win anyway. But it's impossible to win when the officials blatantly disregard their job. That's what happened in this game, and it should cost people their jobs.
It won't, because the Big Ten and the NCAA are both complete jokes. The least they can do is make a trip to State College and apologize to each and every student-athlete in that Penn State locker room whom they robbed of a marquee win, because no matter if you're a fan of the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions or any other team, the players on the field deserved better.
Reverend Paul Revere, aka Joe Boland, is a sports blogger out of Philadelphia whose life revolves around sports 365 and a quarter days per year. Keep up with Rev at his own personal blog, The House That Glanville Built and on Twitter.