The man in charge of college football officiating doesn’t believe Fiesta Bowl officials made the right decision in overturning Clemson WR Justyn Ross’ second-half fumble.
According to a report by CBS, both national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding and Big Ten supervisor of officials Bill Carollo believe the wrong decision was made when the SEC crew officiating the game said after a replay review that Ross didn’t catch the ball.
This is a hell of a play by Okudah … but it was ruled an incompletion and takes away Fuller’s fumble return for a TD. pic.twitter.com/xWkUr7H6Vc— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) December 29, 2019
Ross appeared to take multiple steps after catching the football and the call on the field was a fumble. Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller picked the ball up and returned it for a go-ahead touchdown.
But the reversal to an incompletion took Ohio State’s TD off the board. While the Buckeyes eventually regained the lead against Clemson with a fourth quarter touchdown — and the Tigers punted after the incomplete pass ruling — Clemson scored a TD with less than two minutes remaining for a 29-23 win.
"I haven't talked to anybody who thought it was an incomplete pass," said Carollo, who has more than 30 years of officiating experience. "To reverse it, it has to be really obvious."
Carollo said he has spoken with both Ohio State coach Ryan Day and SEC officiating supervisor Steve Shaw about the play. Carollo admitted Day was upset, but, "He's a pro. Very professional."
The report later states that Redding, the outgoing national coordinator of officials, agreed with Carollo’s assessment that the call on the field should have stood. That agreement is further proof of how borderline the decision was.
Shaw would not comment, but national officiating supervisor Rogers Redding agreed that the call should not have been overturned when contacted by CBS Sports on Monday. Shaw is set to replace Redding as national supervisor.
Per a pool report after the game, referee Ken Williamson said that Ross didn’t complete the process of the catch, a phrase that’s previously been the bane of existence for many football fanbases. Shaw, his boss, is set to take over for Redding as the national officiating coordinator in 2020.
Officiating assignments for the playoff games were announced last week. An SEC crew took the Fiesta Bowl because LSU was in the Peach Bowl and an ACC crew had the Peach Bowl because Clemson was in the Fiesta Bowl. A Pac-12 crew has the national title game on Jan. 13. No Pac-12 team made the playoff.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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