Questionable calls in Happy Valley show it’s time for centralized instant replay


Ohio State managed to escape State College last night with a double overtime victory over Penn State. The victory came with the help of some questionable officiating

Ohio State’s Vonn Bell picked off a pass from Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on the first offensive series of the game. The interception was questionable enough to call for an instant replay review by the Big Ten officials. Video of the play has even Ohio State faithful believing the Buckeyes received a gift early on in the game. The video replay process was hindered in Beaver Stadium by the lack of the proper replay feeds being available for the replay official.

John O’Neill, who was the on-field official in State College, confirmed after the game to a pool reporter the replay was not thoroughly reviewed.

“The play technically was not thoroughly reviewed due to some technical difficulties with the equipment,” O’Neill said after the game. Asked if there are any provisions to receive any other replay feeds available in the stadium (perhaps the one showing on the national broadcast or the one airing on those big fancy HD scoreboards in the stadium), O’Neill said that was not possible.

“The feeds that the replay team looks at are the feeds you get at home,” O’Neill explained. “We can’t create our own rules. The replay rules are clear that we have to use the equipment provided. So, and the team reviewed what they had.”

Ohio State ended up turning that questionable interception into a touchdown for an early 7-0 lead. Ohio State also successfully kicked a 49-yard field goal later in the first half, although the kick appeared to be kicked two seconds after the play clock had expired. Again, this was easily captured on TV but missed on the field of play. O’Neill explained there was no review of that call.

Replay official Tom Fiedler went a little more in-depth in explaining why the field goal was not reviewed, saying the play is not a reviewable play.

“That is not reviewable in terms of when the ball is snapped in relationship to the zeros on the clock,” Fiedler said to the pool reporter after the game.

It was a bad night for the officials, who also awarded each team a timeout in the fourth quarter without either team asking for one, missing what looked to be an eye gouging by a Penn State player on J.T. Barrett as well as a crucial false start on Ohio State on third down.

Bad penalties and missed calls happen in every game. Every conference has officials that will have errors magnified in today’s modern world of instant reaction and multiple viewing angles and so on. But there is zero reason for an instant replay official not to have any feed it needs to do its job in today’s world, and there is no excuse for any one of the officials on the field to miss the play clock expiring.

Whether the Big Ten will address these controversial calls remains to be seen. Last week we saw the Big 12 go on record defending its replay officials for attempting to correct errors on the field in a Baylor-West Virginia game. If nothing else, perhaps it is becoming more likely conferences will begin to think about moving all instant replays to a neutralized location, as is done in the NHL, Major League Baseball and he NFL. Power conferences like the Big Ten have the ability to do just that, and there will never be an issue regarding video feed if they do. Every conference should at least consider it as a possibility.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.