Football
The Call? How About the Calls?
By Tom Orr

Shhhhhh! Point your ears to the south and listen very faintly. If the wind's not too loud, and there's not too much auto traffic near your vantage point, you might just be able to make out a very faint noise. It sounds a lot like a baby crying.

Friends of mine who live much farther south describe the sound as more of a constant, high-pitched whining.

U.S. Naval Stations as far north as Norfolk, VA have been forced to re-calibrate their most sensitive listening equipment because of the steady siren-like screeching from the south.

Yes, Miami Hurricane fans are talking about the pass interference call again.

Dear Miami fans, it was a heck of a ride. You won 34 games in a row. Then you went up against a better team and you lost. Not because of a field judge, and certainly not because of some secret, national anti-Miami agenda.

You lost because your offensive linemen were not man enough to block OSU's defensive front.

You lost because your star running back really wasn't so tough after all.

You lost because it turns out your invincible quarterback doesn't like getting hit in the mouth. (Ken, might I suggest field hockey?)

You lost because your coaches just aren't as smart or effective as our coaches.

You lost because your super-human defense couldn't stop a desperate, wounded team looking to pick up a 4th-and-14 in overtime.

You lost because your mighty, invincible football team could not move the ball a mere six feet in four opportunities in double overtime.

You did not lose because Terry Porter threw a flag against a team that had spent the previous four hours BEGGING for yellow cloth to be flying.

And yes, there was a penalty on that play. Watch the replay. There's serious contact before the ball gets there. That's pass interference, and if that's not good enough for you, there's defensive holding and a facemask on that play, too.

Some of your biggest whiners, it seems, have access to computers and on-line forums for their sour grapes. Here's one of my favorites (link: http://miami.theinsiders.com/2/86210.html).

Miami fans that choose to simply focus on one play in the first overtime session are missing the point.

The referees who made that call in overtime also made (or perhaps more accurately, didn't make) calls throughout the evening that would have changed the outcome dramatically in Ohio State's favor. In fact, many of these blatant NON-calls, if ruled correctly, would have eliminated the overtime period altogether.

If you don't believe me, print out this list and check each call off as you watch the replay of the game this Saturday on ESPN Classic.

I'm putting this together as a reference tool for the future, whenever Buckeye fans hear about the pass interference call in the end zone. Just whip this thing out, and explain that the game involved more than one controversial call, many of which went Miami's way.

This reaction should happen like a reflex, like kicking when the doctor hits you in the knee with the little rubber hammer, or flipping the bird to someone in a Michigan hat. No thinking involved, just instantly hand them the list.

I'm sure there are calls (and non-calls) that went OSU's way somewhere in the game, and I would love to see some Miami fan come up with a list like this to back that up.

Here's the catch. The call has to be clearly visible on the game tape. There are some borderline calls that I left off this list, including some non-calls that didn't hurt the Bucks (such as Miami guys holding Buckeyes when Dorsey gets sacked) and some closer calls that aren't crystal clear on the game video.

I even saw a couple on the video that my station shot at the game, that weren't clear on the tape. They're not on here. If every fan with a copy of the game can't see it, I didn't include it.

If it's on the list, I promise you're going to see it on the tape.

I invite all our friends from Coral Gables to put their own list together. Show me how many more bad calls OSU benefited from than Miami.

You should have plenty of free time; say on January 18th, while we're busy celebrating our national title in the Horseshoe.

1) 6:30 left in the first quarter, and Ohio State has the ball 3rd-and-3. Craig Krenzel throws a nice pass to Maurice Clarett past the first down marker, but it falls incomplete. Clarett gets up asking for a flag, but none is forthcoming. On the replay, we clearly see Clarett spinning clockwise (away from the ball) because the Miami defender is grabbing his right side before the ball gets there. Should have been a penalty and a first down, instead OSU must punt, giving the ball to Miami in good field position. The Canes would use this short field to score their first touchdown.

2) 5:40 left in the first quarter, Miami has the ball 2nd-and-9. Ken Dorsey drops back to pass, and Robert Reynolds is coming around the corner (top of the screen), about to knock him into next week. Willis McGahee steps up to pick up the blitz and absolutely mauls Reynolds. You can see his jersey pull away from his shoulder pads. It's a clear, clear case of holding. Instead, no call is made and Dorsey (instead of being sacked yet again) hits Kellen Winslow for a first down. So, while the Canes should have been facing 3rd-and-long (if Reynolds wasn't held and got the sack) or 2nd-and very long (if the hold was called). Instead, Miami gets a first down to the OSU 23 yard line. This leads to the Canes' first touchdown.

3) 4:23 left in the first quarter, Miami has the ball 2nd-and-12. Kenny Peterson beats his man off the line. Miami's no. 76 grabs his jersey on the right shoulder. You can clearly see the jersey pull away from Peterson's body. The Miami blocker uses the hold to twist Peterson and drive him into the ground, away from Dorsey. Another blatant, blatant hold is missed and Dorsey gets the chance to throw the ball away. Instead of 2nd-and-25 or so, it's 3rd-and-12. The next play is Miami's first touchdown.

If any of these first three penalties are called, Miami's first touchdown becomes much more difficult to score. None of them directly negate the score, but the Canes certainly had some help from their friends in the Big XII on the drive. And just to be clear, if Miami doesn't score that first touchdown, there is no overtime, and no controversial pass interference.

4) 3:48 left in the first quarter, OSU ball 1st-and-10. Craig Krenzel's pass is intercepted downfield. It was not a particularly great throw, but watch the replay of the action downfield. Miami's no. 22 shoves Vance to the ground as the ball is in the air. That is called pass interference. Unless, of course, you're wearing a striped shirt. Then it's 1st-and-10 Miami. That non-call would have negated a turnover and given the Buckeyes a first down at their 30. Instead, Miami gets the ball in great field position again.

5) 2:14 left in the first quarter, Miami ball 3rd-and-14. Darrion Scott, rushing off the corner on the bottom of your screen, clearly beats his man, then mysteriously starts turning sideways. That's called holding, but it's not called anything here. Regardless, the Canes are stopped short of a first down on the play and have to punt.

6) 13:18 left in the second quarter, Michael Doss is in position to blow up a punt return, instead Miami's no. 28 blocks him in the back to knock him out of the play. It should have moved the ball back half the distance to the goal line, but it wasn't called. Instead of starting from the six, the Canes get to take the ball around the 13.

7) Next play, Miami 1st-and-10, and Chris Gamble gets flagged for pass interference, presumably because he's fallen a step behind the speedy Andre Johnson. But as the replay clearly shows, Johnson uses his right forearm to crack Gamble across the face and/or neck, slowing him down and making him lose his balance. This, naturally, is not called, but the eagle-eyed official does spot the tug on Johnson's jersey.

8) 12:24 left in the second quarter, Miami 2nd-and-10. A seemingly innocent draw play gets a whole different look on the replay. From behind the Ohio State defense, the camera clearly shows two Buckeye defenders being held. Both Tim Anderson and Robert Reynolds have their jerseys pulled away from their backs, dragging them out of the hole. Dan Fouts comments on the "good blocking up front there," prompting me to wonder if he's taking the opportunity to visually check his colon while his head's up there.

9) 10:08 left in the third quarter, Ohio State 1st-and-10. Miami's nose tackle jumps offsides (run it frame-by-frame if you don't believe me) and Lydell Ross is stuffed. Instead of 1st-and-5, the Bucks are left with 2nd-and-12, and end up settling for a field goal on that set of downs. It's easier to convert (obviously) on 1st-and-5, and maybe this cost the Bucks a chance to score a touchdown. It certainly cost them a chance to run off some more clock.

If I was a whiny Miami fan, I would chalk this up as a guaranteed 7 points that my team was robbed of. I'm not saying without a shadow of a doubt that OSU would have put a touchdown on the board, but those five yards would have made it a lot easier.

10) On the ensuing kickoff, an Ohio State player is blocked in the back and driven past Andre Johnson, who runs it back to the 39. There's no replay shown on ABC, but you can watch the live-action shot as Johnson is at the 15. Farther toward the top of the screen, an OSU player goes flying past Johnson, with more than a little help from a guy in a green jersey. Half the distance to the goal line from there means Miami should have started this drive around the 10, not the 39. Then, when the Canes went 3-and-out, OSU would have had the ball near midfield, not on their own 21. Considering how important field position was in this game, the no-call on the kickoff return was a big one. Assuming the Miami and Ohio State drives immediately following this non-call played out as they did in the game, the Canes would have started their would-be touchdown drive on the 15 instead of the 45. And I didn't see anything all night that would make me think Miami could go 85 yards on the OSU defense.

11) 5:04 left in the third, Miami 1st-and-10. Willis McGahee gets the carry through a surprisingly large hole in the middle of the offensive line. I thought I saw a Miami player holding Tim Anderson, and the replay clearly confirms it. Again, instead of 2nd-and-4, the Canes should have been looking at 1st-and-20. Not impossible, but certainly a stumbling block for an offense as punchless as Miami's looked that night. This was the drive that ended in a touchdown.

12) 3:55 left in the third, Miami 1st-and-10. McGahee takes it off tackle for 11 yards and a first down. Robert Reynolds (no. 44) is clearly being held on the bottom of the screen, and McGahee takes it wide of him. If Reynolds not held and allowed to keep contain, there's no big gain. And the (properly called) holding penalty would have pushed the Canes back to 1st-and-20 at the 43, instead of 1st-and-10 at the 21. Again... considering how much trouble Miami had moving the ball against the OSU defense, an extra 20 yards makes an ENORMOUS difference, and there is no way any Miami fan/coach/player can say that a penalty there would be irrelevant.

13) 2:17 left in the third, Miami 1st-and-goal. McGahee's touchdown run is helped immensely as no. 60 grabs Cie Grant's jersey and doesn't let him get outside to contain. This is holding. This is a penalty.

This penalty would take 7 Miami points off the board, just like any of the previous 3 non-calls could have. Without those points, there is no overtime and Terry Porter remains an anonymous field judge from the Big XII. Then Miami fans are left contemplating what ELSE they can whine and make excuses about.

14) 14:13 left in the fourth, Miami 2nd-and-2. Miami's no. 87 grabs Will Smith's jersey with his left hand and hangs on for dear life. McGahee scoots by for a first down, with Smith finally wriggling free to make the tackle. A holding call there puts Miami in 2nd-and-12; instead they get a first down. This drive could have ended up resulting in points, but Sievers missed a field goal.

15) 13:05 left in the fourth, Miami 1st-and-10. Tim Anderson comes right up the middle, and basically drags a Miami blocker back to Dorsey. The replay shows this too. Darrion Scott manages to knock this pass down, but a holding call here (stop me if you've heard this before) pushes them back to 1st-and-20, and I'm not convinced they could convert that.

16) 12:15 left in the fourth, Miami 3rd-and-10. Cie Grant blitzes up the middle, and McGahee hangs on to him for dear life. There are two replay angles, which both show this hold very clearly. Dan Fouts again complements McGahee on his blocking. This should have been 3rd-and-20. Instead Miami gets a first down.

17) 11:53 left in the fourth, Miami 3rd-and-10. Cie Grant comes blitzing on the bottom of the screen. Kellen Winslow does the kind of unspeakable things to him that usually forces someone to have to register when they move into a new neighborhood. No call. This is especially confusing because it's a screen pass, and theoretically, you WANT the OSU defenders to come rushing upfield. This is also the play where McGahee does his impression of a flamingo. Miami settles for a field goal try, which they miss.

18) 9:20 left in the fourth, Ohio State 1st-and-10. Miami's nose tackle is across the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Again, look at it frame-by-frame if you want to prove it to yourself. It should be 1st-and-5 OSU. Instead, Clarett runs for 5, but the Bucks are facing second down instead of first. Clarett picks up the first down on the next play, so it doesn't matter much long-term, but it costs OSU a 1st-and-5, which is a great chance to throw deep to Jenkins or Gamble. And I still can't figure out how a line judge can miss a 300 lb guy jumping into the neutral zone before the snap.

19) 6:36 left in the fourth, Miami 1st-and-10. Whoever the Bucks send blitzing off the corner at the top of the screen gets the usual groping. Miami gets a first down instead of a 1st-and-20. This drive ends with Dustin Fox drilling Roscoe Parrish and forcing a fumble.

20) 2:25 left in the fourth, Ohio State 3rd-and-6. This is the shining, gold-plated example of why the Miami argument about the overtime pass interference is stupid. Chris Gamble caught this ball. The replay shows that. And even if you bull-headedly want to insist that he didn't, there's no denying the defensive holding that is going on as Gamble breaks for the ball. That would have meant five yards and an automatic first down. OSU could have run three plays, and Miami could have taken one timeout. Even in the best case scenario for the Canes; if the officials stopped the clock after Gamble's catch AND re-set the ball between plays in an absurdly fast 5 seconds per snap AND the Buckeyes don't convert another first down; that still leaves Miami with only one minute and zero timeouts to try for a tying field goal. And if OSU had gotten just one more first down, the game would have ended. The Buckeyes got H-O-S-E-D on two separate missed calls on this one play. Either one would have negated the overtime and the Porter call.

21) 2:18 left in the fourth, Ohio State punting. Roscoe Parrish single-handedly does what the Canes haven't done all night-run through the OSU defense. But watch the Hurricane blocking A.J. Hawk (no. 47) at the Miami 40. He's got both of his hands wrapped tightly around Hawk's right arm, pulling Hawk backwards. That leaves A.J. to lamely waive at Parrish with his left arm only, and gives Parrish another 15 or so yards. A properly called holding penalty there pushes Miami back to their own 30, so they would have needed about 45-50 yards to get into range for Sievers. The TV version is pretty clear (so I'm including it here), but video that I've seen from our NBC 4 photographers at the game makes it absolutely obvious. There is no way Miami should have started the drive with the ball in field goal range.

22) First Overtime, Miami 3rd-and-1. Cie Grant again runs sideways, thanks to a little help from his Miami blocker. Other Buckeyes get mauled slightly less obviously. No call on any of them, of course. Miami gets a first down instead of a 3rd-and-11.

23) First Overtime, Ohio State 2nd-and-10. Krenzel scrambles and receives a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Jonathan Vilma. If this were the NFL, Vilma would be looking at a five-figure fine. But this is the Fiesta Bowl, so nothing is called. The personal foul penalty here would have given OSU a first down and negated the fourth-down penalty two plays from now. A side note: the Matt Wilhelm hit on Dorsey in double-OT was helmet to shoulder pads, not helmet-to-helmet. So don't even try to compare the two.

24) First Overtime, Ohio State 4th-and-3. The infamous pass interference in the end zone. Forget the holding that's going on before the pass was thrown. Forget the pass interference, if Miami fans want to pretend it didn't happen. The defender's right hand grab's Gamble's facemask. It's not a personal foul, but it would be a five-yard penalty. Marking off half the distance to the goal line would have left OSU in a 4th-and-a-foot situation. And considering that Miami's coaches are STILL either too stubborn or too stupid to figure out the Krenzel runs those keepers pretty well, I'm relatively certain that the Bucks would have picked it up anyways. And that's assuming that you take the holding penalty (obvious on the tape) and pass interference (pretty obvious as well) off the table.

Miami committed three penalties on this controversial play and their fans are complaining because they got called for only one of them. Just because that's a significantly smaller percentage than you got called for in the game as a whole doesn't mean you got robbed.

It means you finally got caught, and you finally got beat. Because you finally played a team than was better than yours.

Tom Orr is an O-Zone columnist and a former Lantern sports editor. He covers the Buckeyes as a sports producer at NBC 4. E-mail him at tomorr@the-ozone.net.

Return to the-Ozone Front Page

Return to the-Ozone Columns and Features

(c) 2002 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.