The Pass Interference Call that Wasn't
Jordan Matthews (Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE)
Jordan Matthews (Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE)

Posted Sep 1, 2012


Well. it took exactly one game of the 2012 college football season for a controversial call to impact the final minutes of a contest.

I get how officials can miss some pass interference calls. There are plenty of plays where the bang bang nature of football gives an official just a millisecond to make a decision on whether a defender was committing a foul. Officials can be unsighted, out of position, or the contact between receiver and defender can be so minimal it is just impossible for the white hat to spot. This, however, was none of those things.

You all saw the play. With time winding down in the fourth quarter in a game in which Vandy first looked like they would get blown out, then looked like they should win, the Commodores were desperate. On fourth- and-7 from their own 38-yard line Jordan Rodgers looked to favorite target Jordan Matthews burning from the slot on a corner pattern. Rodgers stood tall in the face of the rush (he got hammered by blitzing safety T.J. Gurley) and heaved a perfect spiral down the right sideline to his playmaker.

Matthews, for his part, had a step on another Gamecock safety, D.J. Swearinger. As the ball got to Matthews right around the USC 35-yard line he had a play on it but it fell incomplete. Swearinger jumped up to celebrate with his teammates and everything was simple, game over. As soon as the first replay hit the screen however it was clear that something was wrong. As the ball was about to fall into Matthews hands Swearinger CLEARLY reaches out and swats down the Vanderbilt wide outs left arm. You can even see the back judge having the perfect view of the play from one of the replay angles, he is literally looking right at it. As the ESPN analyst so succinctly put it on commentary, "that would be the definition of pass interference".

Pass interference is 100 percent nonrenewable and as such Vandy had no cause for video replay. That fact that such a blatant foul as this was committed and there is nothing that James Franklin can do about it is pretty laughable. This wasn't a case of one angle showing one thing and another something different, this is as nailed on a penalty as you are ever likely to find.

I am no conspiracy theorist but the SEC needs to take a good look at the game tape and grade the officials accordingly. In a sport where one loss can ruin a team's season there is no room in the game for errors as blatant as this one. As the season goes on it will become nothing more than a footnote in SEC history, but Vandy may have been denied a program changing win because of one of the worst non calls since, well, Vanderbilt’s game at Florida last season.


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