One sports writer for the Bleacher Report summed it up near the end of his article when he wrote Personallly,l buy.... Just as Alabama does with officials.It's very hard to beat a team whose colors are Crimson, White and Black. Those Black and White extra special team players are easily the most valuable on their team. Remarkably, these iron men play both offense and defense for the entire sixty minutes of every game. At least there is now a really good answer for the meaning of the phrase The Whole Nine Yards. It's the yardage that Alabama has to gain in four downs to earn a first down and maintain possession of the ball,
Well, we started our day with the questionable spot in the Alabama/Ole Miss game and that’s where we’ll finish, too.
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom was kind enough — as usual — to respond to our query about the video you can watch below:
“On a 3rd down play at the 13:31 mark of the first quarter, an Alabama pass play was completed to the Alabama 32-yard line and signaled for a first down.
A YouTube video calls attention to the placement of the football. The following outlines the sequence of events leading up to the first down placement:
1) The receiver is down outstretched with the football inches shy of the 32 yard line and at the line to gain when his knees touch the ground;
2) The head linesman immediately stops the clock and gives Alabama the first down (By Rule, clock stops at the awarding of a first down);
3) The head linesman is seen stopping the clock and initially places the ball shy of where the football was declared dead and shy of the previously awarded first down;
4) The head linesman uses an incorrect mechanic in looking back to the first down marker to move the football back to the original correct spot;
5) Video review of this sequence confirms that the final spot of the ball is correct.”
Now, this writer is not concerned with where the person controlling the video pauses it. That’s his opinion of when the ballcarrier’s knee hit the ground and his view and angle are different from those of the official marking the spot.
However, it does appear to me that the official runs in to spot the ball where he thought it should be marked, then looked back to the marker (incorrectly, as Bloom notes) to make sure he’s putting it where he’d lined it up initially.
Personally, I don’t think it looks like he marks the ball in the same spot as he initially meant to. But that’s my take. Officials — especially linesmen — would have a better idea of whether or not this mark was correct.
The key here — and I wish I’d picked up on it earlier — is that the linesman does stop the clock before marking the ball. That means that in his live-action view, the ballcarrier got past the first down marker. You can argue about where the ball was when the knee hit, but the official didn’t have the benefit of a high-angle camera and slow-motion eyesight. He saw the play, marked the spot, blew his whistle… and then tried to make sure he placed the ball where it had initially gone down (and I think he goofed on that front.)
In the end, though, what I believe and what Bloom says will be of little importance to those who feel an SEC official decided to give Alabama an extra foot of yardage because the game was being played in Tuscaloosa. Just as my beliefs and the US government’s statements about Area 51 aren’t going to convince some folks that little green men aren’t hanging out in Nevada helping to develop new iPhones.
It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Bloom and the SEC say the spot is correct. It’s looks to me like the official messed himself up and by using an incorrect mechanic and placed the ball at the wrong spot. While you may believe the 13 schools in the SEC not named Alabama are all happy to go along with a conspiracy to help Alabama beat them.
Personally, I really don’t care much one way or the other because a) bad spots and bad calls are going to happen — whether this was a bad one or not, and b) Alabama won the game 33-14 and this spot of the ball really didn’t have much of an impact on that outcome. The league should work to correct as many mistakes as possible and the league office has reviewed the tape and found — in its opinion — that the only problem was the linesman using an incorrect mechanic to spot the ball.
You’ve heard my take. You’ve heard the league’s take. Feel free to share yours.