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BuckIQ: Fiesta Bowl targeting, replay-review calls reveal officiating flaws

Ohio State fell victim to a few suspect calls in the Fiesta Bowl. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

BuckIQ: Fiesta Bowl targeting, replay-review calls reveal officiating flaws

COLUMBUS — Ohio State coach Ryan Day sat at a podium and did everything he could to keep his responses measured, refusing to point a finger or risk getting fined for his comments.

In a shell-shocked Buckeyes locker room, all the players could do was either decline to talk about the calls, politely disagree or degradingly admit there was simply nothing that could be done to change them.

Just about the only qualified people willing to weigh in were experienced officials with either a live microphone or Twitter account, and they made it clear for the Buckeyes that they had been wronged — most notably by the overturned fumble return for a touchdown that ultimately was the different on the scoreboard in the Fiesta Bowl.

The outcome won’t change, obviously, and Ohio State is unlikely to every truly get over what happened during those replay reviews in the desert two weeks ago. All the Buckeyes can hope for at this point is that perhaps the sport as a whole reconsiders the poor one-size-fits-all ejection policy for targeting infractions and maybe takes a closer look at what’s happening in the replay booth, because clearly the College Football Playoff miscues further exposed a major problem that has been threatening the credibility of the sport for a while.

“I know there were some plays that were called on the field and then overturned — and when they overturn it, there has to be indisputable evidence,” Day said after the game. “If that’s what they deemed it was, it’s going to be something we’ll have to take a look at.

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State coach Ryan Day didn’t publicly criticize the officials at the Fiesta Bowl. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“The thing about those plays were certainly that the catch that was returned for a touchdown was such a huge play in the game. The play with Shaun Wade, that was a fourth-down play. It was such a huge play in the game. That J.K. Dobbins catch, those were major plays and they didn’t go our way. So, not crying about it. But at the same time, those were big plays that didn’t go our way. And certainly, again, there’s a range of emotions about that.”

Anger, confusion and disappointment were surely at the top of the list for Day. There was also plenty of that to go around for the Buckeyes after they had seemingly done enough to knock Clemson off and head to the national championship game on Monday.

Instead, Ohio State is left with a lifetime of regret. And while it would probably prefer never to watch those replays again, a closer look at them now before moving on is worth it as a reminder of what’s at stake for college football heading into 2020 if nothing changes.

What solutions are there for the targeting rule in college football that left Ohio State without key defensive back Shaun Wade? How exactly was that not a catch and fumble for Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl? Will there ever be any accountability for the officiating crew botching the biggest game of the season? Former Buckeyes linebacker Zach Boren was back in the Lettermen Row film lab looking at the key calls in the College Football Playoff and giving his thoughts on what needs to happen in the latest episode of BuckIQ.

Roll the tape!

Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.

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Kid Buckeye
Kid Buckeye

Some are still talking about the Dobbins TD catch which was overturned , what I saw Dobbins didn’t make that catch. The other 2 calls I have a problem.

Buck Nut
Buck Nut

You guys make excellent points! I agree.

dave martin
dave martin

both calls were not made on the field they were made by the guy in the booth

Jim Wolford
Jim Wolford

sec officials, enough said!

Randy
Randy

I would like to know why they called the PI on Riep and let two obvious calls against K J Hill in the end zone go uncalled and running into the kicker could have been called but no way that was roughing. It was an absolute embarrassment that night on the field.

Doug Riseborough
Doug Riseborough

The calls aside, we had the ball with 1:49 left. We moved the ball quickly down the field and had a chance to win that game. We didn’t finish that drive and we lost!! After all that happened in that game we didn’t get it done and we outplayed them in every aspect!! Turn field goals into TD’s and its never a close game. I love my Buckeyes and always will till the day I die but we just didn’t get it done!!

mrhale
mrhale

It really doesn’t matter if Ohio State was behind the entire game. Add in at least the 6, if not 7 points, taken off the board by this one bogus call, and that interception on the last drive becomes moot. Ball handling and play calling would change dramatically, taking on the appearance of OSU’s previous drive: slow, methodical ball movement. In the very least, they run out the remaining clock. At best, up until that last play, Ohio State was close enough to add 3 more points. Instead of losing by 6, they win by 1, if not 4 points. So I disagree. Ohio State got the job done. It’s the officials who did not.

Brunstar
Brunstar

The conference which doesn’t make the playoff should officiate the playoff games.

Buckeye 1992
Buckeye 1992

Whiiiiiners… from the coach to players to former players

Control what you can control…. like getting inside the 10 yard line 3 times in first Half with a first down and can’t score a touchdown

When game was on the line Clemson scores in 1 minute and we throw an interception

As long as the refs are the narrative we never get better

Grow up whiiiiiners!!

Robert Gustin
Robert Gustin

… says the troll.

Buckeye 1992
Buckeye 1992

Not at all… I just can’t stand our team not owning up to controlling what they can control

Been waiting so long to get back to the big game and we didn’t look focused on those first half red zone attempts

No way they should be able to keep us out with 4 shits to go 5-8 yards

Now no doubt the calls were pivotal but for every person who says it was a bad call there is one saying it was correct by the letter of the law

My point is … especially from Day… you cannot go down this path. It’s a real bad look …. and let’s our guys off the hook for poor execution in the red zone

If we want to win it next year…. and we will be back… we have to convert 7 not 3

Had we Clemson would have never had a chance to come back

dan
dan

how can you say that and yet ignore the 2 officiating mistakes that changed the game – you aren’t as smart as you think you are.

Big Buck
Big Buck

Hey Azzwipe, you have never heard Day whine. go suck an egg prick.

Big Buck
Big Buck

Azzwipe you also forgot to mention hands to the face of chase young when targeting was called on Shaun Wade. the Sec Refs saw what they wanted to see and made it up as they went.

Brian
Brian

I remember football before instant replay. I think it’s time to go back to that. We aren’t fixing the game with instant replay by cleaning up enough calls to justify the damage. Wilson’s catch review on I think the first drive was a momentum breaker. Instant Replay has damaged the game and especially the flow of the game more then it has enhanced it.

Florida Buckeye
Florida Buckeye

Might be interesting to look for changes in lifestyles of game officials going forward.

Thomas Prater
Thomas Prater

For a clear definition of Targeting that was not called look closely at the play Dobbins got hurt and watch the Clemson player clearly lower his head and go into Dobbins head with the crown of his helmet. No call my rear end. Game is as fake as wrestling.

Florida Buckeye
Florida Buckeye

There are people who want the game of football to disappear. The targeting rule was a major step to drive fans away,while making those who voted it in feel good. Key players can be removed from the game immediately…..as happened to the Buckeyes several times in recent years.

“Indisputable evidence” means what ever an official feels it should mean.

20 years from now the game will be akin to arena touch football(with corresponding viewership). Enjoy what remains of a once great game while you can…till the next series of bad calls and ejections brings back what many of us are still feeling today.

Zach Boren

Zach Boren was a 2012 captain and member of the 12-0 team. Winner of the Big Ten Conference Sportsmanship Award and an ESPN/Kirk Herbstreit "Herbie". Zach remains in the Columbus area and heads the development of Boren Brothers.

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