For those TCU fans still steaming over Thursday night's game at Texas Tech, the officials got it right. That, according to Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson who spoke to CBSSports.com on Friday.
In question are the two most crucial calls in Tech's 20-10 win. A 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by TCU's Brandon Carter was called back because of an invalid fair catch. The score would have cut Tech's lead at the time to 10-9 (pending the extra point).
Later in the fourth, Tech's Davis Webb threw an apparent 49-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Washington to break a 10-10 tie. Upon replay, it was shown that Washington dropped the ball before it got to the end zone. Amazingly, Tech was awarded the ball at the one-half yard line. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the ball back to the 15, Webb then hit Bradley Marquez for the eventual game-winning touchdown.
On the dropped ball Anderson referenced Rule 4, Article 2 of the official rulebook which states:
A live ball becomes a dead ball as provided in the rules or when an official sounds his whistle (even though inadvertently) or otherwise signals the ball dead.
When the ball is loose from a fumble, backward pass or illegal pass, then the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where possession was lost or repeat the down.
Obviously Tech did not want to repeat the down. What might have confused fans is the ball did not go through the end zone on Washington's fumble. Had that been the case, the ruling would have been a touchback and TCU would have gotten possession.
“The team going into the end zone is entitled to the ball,” Anderson said. “The fact that an official makes a [touchdown] signal changes it to some degree. Then what comes into play is the fumble rule. Instant replay reverts back to who had the ball last and where did they have it.”
That would have been the half-yard line. Good call by the officials.
--Carter's punt return was called back because, by rule, the ball was dead when he made an “invalid fair catch” signal.
That was the interpretation by the officials. Carter actually made two gestures, one with each hand that could be interpreted as fair catch signals. While reasonable folks can disagree, it should be pointed out the officials made that interpretation. There was no replay. Interpretations are essentially what come into play on every call.
From the rulebook:
A catch after an invalid signal is not a fair catch, and the ball is dead where caught or recovered.
If TCU fans want to complain they ought to look within. Their team was four-for-16 on third down conversions and committed 13 penalties for 115 yards.
Anderson said the crew would not be disciplined. “That's one of our better crews.”