Welcome to a special edition of Sunday Morning Quarterback.
In the debut of the SMQ column on Sunday, I took a look at the NCAA rule book in an attempt to show that UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora was right in complaining about the fact that officials waived off the Ineligible Man Downfield penalty flag which eventually earned Mora a 15-yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty.
This week, Mora "was issued a public reprimand by the Pac-12 after he referred to the officiating as "criminal" in a postgame radio interview following the Bruins' win against Arizona on Saturday," according to Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com.
But, many Bruin fans are still scratching their head.
And, for good reason.
After all, the rule and the approved ruling referenced in the rule book seem pretty clear, cut and dry.
Well, having been a member of the California Football Officials Association 20 years ago, I know that there are supplemental materials that officials use to train with to help ensure the proper interpretation of the rules.
And, that’s what the Pac-12 Conference cited when issuing their reprimand of Jim Mora yesterday. They cited the Collegiate Commissioners Association Officiating Manual, which says, "If the passer is legally throwing the ball away and it lands near or beyond the sideline, do not penalize the offense for having ineligible players downfield."
Now, to me, this still defies logic.
Other documentation on the ineligible receiver rule indicates that the rule should be called very tightly. College Football Officiating, LLC has issued Play Interpretations Bulletin #1 which says that it "is illegal for the ineligible receiver to have any body part more than three yards downfield when the passer releases the ball."
But, as the ESPN article states, the ruling was confirmed by the NCAA as being correct.
So, with that, apparently, not only was Coach Mora incorrect as far as the proper enforcement of the rule but my argument backing Coach Mora was also incorrect because I didn’t have the information from the CCA Officiating Manual.
I have to admit that I still don’t understand why it’s the correct interpretation, but, like it or not, it apparently is.
I even tried to reach out to Rogers Redding who is the guru of NCAA rules. Should I get a response, I will update this article.
But, without one, it just doesn’t make any sense.