Boise State 33, Virginia Tech 30: In Which I Break My Own Rule About Not Complaining About Officiating

I can't stand fans who complain about the officials or try to use them as an excuse to why their team lost. It's really just stupid. Unless there's a blown call at the end of the game that negates/allows points, then there is no way the officials can actually cost you the game. At the end of the day, the officiating usually effects both teams the same, unless you play in the SEC. Then the officials are actually out to get your team.

That said, allow me to complain about the officials in Virginia Tech's loss to Boise State on Monday.

My one question is about a play on Boise State's final drive. On second-and-five, Kellen Moore completed a pass to Austin Pettis, who scampered down the sideline and stepped out of bounds at the 26.

However, Pettis didn't know he stepped out of bounds and kept running down the sideline for another half second before getting tackled by Bruce Taylor, who also didn't know Pettis had stepped out of bounds. Taylor was flagged for a late hit taking the ball from the 26 to the 13.

The way the Broncos were moving the ball, it was inevitable that Moore would find Pettis in the end zone two plays later for the score. Does the 13 yards Taylor was penalized affect the outcome of the game? Probably not. Was it the right call? I don't think so.

Here's my issue with that call. Before the 2008 season, they expanded the replay rules to include plays where it was originally ruled a player had stepped out of bounds. The ruling could be overturned by replay and, in some cases, result in a touchdown being awarded to the player who was originally ruled out of bounds.

I forget who it was who said it at the time, maybe Mack Brown, but one prominent coach complained about the rule, basically saying that instead of teaching kids to play to the whistle, they were now having to teach them to play through the whistle and it could result in penalties like the one assessed to Taylor.

Pettis didn't know he was out of bounds and tried to advance the ball and Taylor did his job by trying to stop him. I don't think either player heard the whistle, if there was one. The officials even conferenced after the play before announcing the late hit penalty.

It's absolutely incredible that we can have a rule in effect where a call of a player being out of bounds can be overturned by replay and still penalize defenders for trying to stop ballcarriers who are obviously trying to advance the football because they don't know they've stepped out of bounds.

It was a bad call, the officials on the field should have discussed it and waved the flag off and it's something I'm sure we're going to see again at some point in the future. The call itself didn't affect the outcome of the game, although it did affect field position. I also hope it doesn't affect the way Bruce Taylor plays in the future.

Taylor did his job and got flagged for it. If he lets up in another situation, there's a chance Pettis scampers into the end zone while Taylor tries to not draw a flag. I think this is a case where college football has two rules that contradict each other and it needs to be fixed before it does have an effect on the actual outcome of a game.

[PS - The odds of me correctly using the effect/affect rule in every use above is zero.]

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