“Missed” Indiana Field Goal Underscores Imperfection of Review


College football’s decision-makers should do with the missed Indiana field goal attempt what officials in Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl couldn’t: give it a long, thorough review.

The attempt, which would have sent the Hoosiers and Duke to a second overtime, was met with controversy on the field. Clips of the kick show different outcomes.

This angle looks no good RT @YahooDrSaturday: This "missed" field goal was not reviewed. #Indiana #Duke https://t.co/aFrTwq0xNy

— Joe Polek(@JoePolek) December 27, 2015

Good or not, the replay rule barring review of missed kicks feels arbitrary. Attempts that go over the upright, as Ross Martin’s Griffin Oakes’ apparently did, are not reviewable. But even designation of Martin’s kick as passing over the upright is a judgment call that reply could negate.

Officials are human, and human error is a part of the game, whether from the players, coaches or, yes, even the people in stripes. Eliminating all error eliminates some of the game’s intrigue.

Replay exists, proponents will tell you, to ensure “they get it right,” within reason. Overuse of review would drag games already running long because of the proliferation of points into the five-hour range. We’d also be left with a sport more akin to the AI of a video game.

But at the same time, there has to be a better way, a right way, to get it right., and it goes beyond kicks. For example, it won’t be met with the same controversy as the Indiana field goal, but an obvious UCLA facemask that went uncalled in Saturday’s Foster Farms Bowl led to a Tommy Armstrong fumble in the red zone. The Bruins subsequently converted the turnover into seven points and a lead.

Grabbing the face mask is illegal @UCLAFootball #Huskers #cheaters pic.twitter.com/VBiQ16pcB0

— Fr. Chris Miller (@FrMiller) December 27, 2015

Had UCLA won by one score, that two-score swing would have loomed large. More confounding is that the play was already reviewed to see if Armstrong’s knee touched down prior to the ball coming loose. No extra stoppage is necessary to review the play in such an instance.

Much like the officiating on the field, replay reviews will never be perfecf. In the very same state as Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl four years ago, a Toledo-Syracuse game went to overtime on a blown PAT call.

Review failed to compel the officials to change the call on the field.

You’re unlikely to hear much, if any, sympathy come from Duke after the Pinstripe Bowl. Review did nothing to save the Blue Devils in the Miami lateral debacle, after all.