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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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