FEAR ITSELF: Upon Further Review

By Ramzy Nasrallah on July 7, 2021 at 1:15 pm
Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Jeff Okudah (1) breaks up a pass against Clemson Tigers Justyn Ross (8) in the third quarter in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game. The play was reviewed and not ruled a fumble. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
© Matthew Emmons | USAT Sports

There's no such thing as "common sense."

We aren't blessed with any activities, ideas or theories where the consensus is overwhelming, rendering debate or discussion unnecessary. The most basic, obvious shit you can think of in 2021 is somehow politically charged.

Manufacturing is roaring back in America, baby - we can make a hot-button fight out of anything.

Common sense didn't die with Thomas Paine or Aristotle, either. It never existed - those assholes didn't have social media so they had no idea at least a third of their fellow citizens proudly defile the most primitive settled science with conspiracies or just garden variety stupidity.

The only wisdom is knowing you know nothing (shout out to Socrates, also an asshole) which means I am one of those citizens - and so are you. The bad hills we die on are subjective, but we're all wildly incorrect about at least one thing. Sometimes we even come around and admit it.

the big flaw with replay review is that people are still unfortunately involved.

My list of things I've been wildly and passionately wrong about is endless. I wrote this article, for example. Also, this one. A decade ago I predicted the B1G and Pac 12 would rule college athletics while globalizing college sports. I could not have been more wrong - or confident.

And 15 years ago I was convinced replay review would save college football from controversy.

Replay review debuted with the 2005 postseason, and bad calls were officially on notice. After all, millions of eyes would be seeing the same action in slow-motion high definition. The auditors would be audited in real-time by the audience - how could that go poorly? It had to succeed. Every controversial play would eventually reach a consensus. Common sense!

Welcome back to Fear Itself. Here's our premise:

Buckeye football nightmares are justified anxiety for the simple fact that they're syndicated. These terrible events have actually happened - numerous times - so we know they can and will exist.

The threat is real and it is to be feared.

The college football replay booth has absolutely terrorized the Ohio State Buckeyes. On the occasions where it has succeeded, it has simply not robbed them. Whenever I hear the previous play is under review I get nervous, because there's no such thing as common sense.

Previously, we visited Purdue Harbor. Today, the dastardly replay booth is under further review.


In case you forgot, here is the infamous play that clinched the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for the Ohio State Buckeyes, giving them the BCS national championship.

1st down, Buckeyes

In an alternate universe where the 2002 college football season had the benefit of booth review, that game effectively ends here. Miami's 34-game winning streak snaps here. Victory formation begins here. Jim Tressel's now we've got the best damn team in the land speech starts here.

But reality was a bit more dramatic. Chris Gamble fought through blatant two defensive holds and caught Craig Krenzel's 3rd down pass cleanly and in-bounds. The officials, bless them, went 0-3 in correctly ruling on any of those things - they hadn't called holding on Miami's comprehensively dominated offensive line all night. That's consistency.

A catch, four steps, a fumble and a touchdown: Incomplete upon further review.

So instead of victory formation, it was 4th down and Ohio State punted. Miami ended up kicking a game-tying field goal.

Two overtimes later the Buckeyes won anyway - but replay review would have ended that BCS title game in regulation, because of common sense. I insisted this would have happened for years. I was wrong, but confident.

It turns out the big flaw with replay review is that people are still unfortunately involved. We hold the replay booth to a higher standard than the players on the field. Ryan Hamby can drop the ball. Josh Metellus can drop the ball. Fiesta Bowl JK Dobbins can drop the ball. But the replay booth is not allowed to drop the ball.

Upon further review, I'm not sure that Miami game ends on Gamble's catch in a world with replay review. They could have still let the call on the field stand after watching it from every angle. We've seen much worse!

And that's because there is no such thing as common sense. POP QUIZ - is this targeting?

he's leading with the helmet toward a sliding QB who has given himself up, so yes it's textbook fucking targeting

Dwayne Haskins is a sliding quarterback, who has given himself up on this play. Noah Furbush is a linebacker who is both leading with his helmet and delivering a hit on said quarterback.

POP QUIZ ANSWER: This was not targeting. If you said well it's at the very least a 15-yard penalty since you cannot hit a sliding quarterback and there's nothing controversial about that then you get partial credit, since a 15-yard penalty was assessed after the play. On Urban Meyer, for being mad about common sense not existing.

The entire 2018 Michigan game was the worst officiating in a major college football game I've ever seen in my life, without hyperbole. The Ohio State offense rendered it meaningless.

But could they have gone back and reviewed the play to retroactively hit Furbush with a personal foul and even an ejection the same way review did to Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Jordan Fuller and Dre'Mont Jones, none of whom dove head-first into a sliding quarterback? It's rhetorical.

Meyer had seen his own players on the business end of that type of review too many times and when a clear targeting penalty - against Michigan - fell in and out of his lap, he got pissed off. This isn't to say the replay booth is anti-Ohio State (this web site has blinders on; we simply don't care about other teams). The replay booth is just bad.

At the very least the Buckeyes of the past 15 years would have been better off without review. Sometimes the booth gives cover to bad officiating - with an even worse verdict.

Refs blew the play the dead (wrong) canceling a fumble recovery (wrong) and a touchdown (wrong). This was obvious on replay (common sense, whoops) but replay confirmed the call on the field and dismissed Denzel Ward for the rest of the game. This was so bad the conference issued an apology.

Replay can also be destructive when it confirms the call on the field, unnecessarily!

Seconds after Wilson's catch Ohio State used tempo, got to the line and scored a touchdown - but officials blew it dead and then the replay booth spent several minutes reviewing the catch before finally ruling it a catch, you see, because it was a catch. Clemson caught its breath and the Buckeyes settled for a field goal.

This wasn't even one of the ten calamitous what-ifs from that game, but relax, only a few of them involved replay. Only a few. O n l y a f e w. The adage is you cannot rely on the officials to help you win a game, but you shouldn't have to brace for the replay booth to steal points that the officials ruled correctly, either. Common sense.

The replay booth has brought nothing but theft to Ohio State football, with one notable exception that produced a conference investigation that concluded no call on the field could have been overturned.

the spot was good

Here we have a case where a weaponized, inefficient instrument of calamity wasn't used to reverse a call despite the fact there was no evidence to do so. The spot on the field stood, after reviewing it from multiple angles and in slow-motion. Yeah, I can hardly believe it either.

If you don't believe J.T. Barrett got the 1st down and cannot trust your lying eyes, the conference investigation or this homer web site, look elsewhere. Replay could have only created another unjust outcome. It had no benefit here.

But in the end, all that extended review did was take the wind out of Michigan's sails. Alas.

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