Blog Entry

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Posted on: September 12, 2011 8:41 pm
When is a game over?

That's the biggest question left from Saturday's Utah-USC game that seemingly exposed a hole in the college football rules. What was termed "an administrative error" by the Pac-12 officiating crew allowed it to change the final score of the game two hours after it concluded late Saturday in Los Angeles.

However, even that fact is up for debate. National coordinator for college football officiating Rogers Redding told the crew didn't change the score but rather "corrected" it after noticing back at their hotel that it was being announced as a USC victory, 17-14.

The final score was adjusted to 23-14 after officials apparently didn't properly announce or signal a touchdown following a blocked field goal return by the Trojans. Pac-12 officiating supervisor Tony Corrente said the conference's observer had the final score as 23-14 when he went down to meet with officials after the game.

"One of the things we're investigating is whether the scoreboard had the score 23-14 and somehow it was taken down," Corrente said on Monday.

It is believed that is the first time the score of a game -- not including a forfeit or vacation -- had been altered so long after a contest.

Rogers said the crew got the ruling right on the field -- unsportsmanlike conduct for USC players coming off the bench.

"Just because the scoreboard reads something, that doesn't necessarily mean that's correct because the scoreboard keeper may or may not be in tune to the fact that the touchdown counts," Redding said. "The fact that the touchdown counts led to the final confusion."

USC players came off the bench to celebrate as Torrin Harris ran back Utah's blocked field goal for the score as time expired. USC was then flagged for a dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. According to a Pac-12 statement, "since the game was over, the penalty could not be enforced and the referee stated it was declined by rule. The officials did rule it a touchdown making the final score 23 -14."


But what if the change/correction was made the next day or two days after the game? In essence, when is a game over?

"That's a good question," Redding said. "I think you can change it [score] at any time. In principle, we might should probably should have [a rule regarding] something like that. The reality is people are going to notice that stuff."

Rule 1-1-3b in the official NCAA rules and interpretations states that, "The game is ended and the score is final when the referee so declares." That interpretation was applied 20 years ago in the infamous Fifth Down game between Missouri and Colorado. Even though the officiating crew erred in allowing Colorado a fifth down, on which was scored the winning touchdown, the final score could not be changed.

Redding said in regard to Saturday's game there is nothing in the college football rules to account for such an altering of the score after the fact.

"It doesn't anticipate you're going to have this problem. It may anticipate people arguing over whether a foul was called correctly," he said

Saturday's score became an issue at least in Las Vegas where some sports books didn't recognize the scoring change and others did in paying out bets. Some sports books paid both ends of bets -- to those who had Utah covering and cashed in immediately and those who waited and were paid off after it was determined that USC, an 8 1/2-point favorite, had won by nine.

"The message in that is, don't bet on college football," Redding said.

"The point I keep coming back to is the officials, in terms of officiating the game, got it right. What he [referee] announced was an administrative error that had no impact on anything. It's an unfortunate thing that led to lots of confusion."

The final score also could influence voters and BCS computers if Utah is contention for a BCS bowl. Point differential is not included in Pac-12 divisional tiebreakers.

Referee Jack Folliard, a veteran Pac-10/12 official since 1982, worked the game. The Oregon-based Folliard at one time was on the board of directors of the National Association of Division I-A Football Officials.

One person with extensive college and NFL officiating experience wondered whether the score should have been changed at all.

"It was administrated incorrectly is best you can say," the person said. "The worst you can say it's was an error and it shouldn’t have been changed."

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-12, USC, Utah

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:02 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Fast Freddy, the players were running on the field while the game still had time running on it and the player was still running to the end zone

Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: September 13, 2011 2:38 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

I want the NCAA to take away any holdin g penalties they call on my team. I thought a rule was a rule was a rule. I guess not with the NCAA.

Since: May 7, 2009
Posted on: September 13, 2011 2:35 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Blame the casinos.  A well run business pays its debts when it is certain that it owes them.  If the casinos chose to pay prior to being sure (perhaps for good business reasons, such as keeping their clients happy) then they take the business risk that occasionally they will pay too early.  Every business works this way; you understand the risks of a particular action and if the potential benefits outweigh it, you take the risk.  To try to work out of this by legal maneuvering just invites tighter regulation and a loss of credit from gamblers.

Since: Feb 1, 2008
Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:52 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Here's another screw-up that may have affected some Vegas bets:  Under the rules, USC should have been forced to kick the extra point.  Even if the game is decided, the team scoring a TD as regulation expires is required to kick the extra point, or at least take a knee.  This rule does not apply to overtime, but it does in regulation.  Imagine if your Vegas line was 9 or 9.5.

Since: Nov 25, 2008
Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:55 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Let me get this straight...USC blocks a field goal, runs it in for a TD, time expires, the USC players run on the field, the game officials then give USC a penalty for going on the field?  Don't players ALWAYS go on the field after a game is over? And why didn't the officials signal a TD?  Who are these bozos?

Since: Apr 4, 2007
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:19 am

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

I wonder how many cashed winners before they "corrected" it? I predict many of them will do the right thing and return the moeny.

Since: Mar 29, 2010
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:35 am

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

What is Soesahed smoking?  First of all if the game does not continue when time expires, it'll ruin a bunch of Hail Mary plays, and they must hate USC really bad to ADD 6 points to their total ! Yell

Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: September 13, 2011 6:47 am

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

Wow can you imagine all the chaos in Vegas?!?!  I bet so many people threw away their tickets if they had USC -8.5 and never got paid out.  Absolutely crazy that it would take several hours to "correct" this score. 

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: September 13, 2011 4:44 am

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

My question is this.. because clearly NCAA cares nothing about bets... and I get that.  Since the score had very little to do with the overall outcome of the game... but what if it had.. would this still be applied?  Here's what I mean... what if Utah was up 17-14.. and USC ran that back and among the confussion the score wasn't right.. and they came back later & announced a different winner.  Could that happen?  Clearly they would probably be more concerned about that since it would have everything to do with the winning of a game.  But could it happen?

Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:14 am

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

This is not a soccer game.  Play does not continue when time expires.  The rule never should have been instated in the first place.  The fact that the first use of the rule is a USC home game underscores the extreme hatred (bias no longer applies) the officiating crews have towards USC.  Larry Scott is trying to fix the problem, but it will take time.

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