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College Football/Saw this and wonder why not PI?


So a receiver from Michigan State is running a route up, out a little toward the sideline, at least 15-20 yards from line of scrimmage, when he is bumped hard enough by the defender to direct him at the sideline more than he was going on his own.  He ends up going far enough out of his path to step out of bounds by a small step or two.  Then continuing down the field to try to get to the balls flight path which is all farther past the defender who jammed/jarred him sideways to the sideline causing his path to be altered out of bounds and off course by at least five yards to the right.  The defender had no play on the ball because he was behind him getting beaten on the route.  The ball ended up being farther than he was able to reach by five or six yards and the safety was coming over to help but had not made it all the way over to the sideline yet.  The "Ref" ruled he was not an eligible receiver after running out of bounds by his own choice.  Now why and how can he make such a ruling even after the receiver was obviously bumped with a shoulder shove, practically directed with blatant shove outward!  It seems as though I see this shot all the time, when the rule is after five yards the defender can not be obstructing, shoving, bumping, or even touching the receiver with any interfering touch!  How can this be looked at sensibly enough to not call it obstruction/pass interference!  So many shotty refereeing decisions have been "not" made!  Like a defender or receiver should be good enough to know how to play the BALL!  Make a play on the BALL,  not shaky, shotty playing because they are beaten, or don't even know where the ball is!  So when he goes out, to try to correct his path after getting practically pushed that way from a midget who is being physical after five yards and could have been in range to catch it if he weren't blatantly hit, interfering with his route to reach the path he needs to get to the pass why is he ruled to have done it on his own?  Some things I will never understand!  Maybe I need a copy of the rules so as to study these mishaps a little more unbiased like some "REF," or  "Line Judge!" I must be majorly confused?

First and foremost the officiating crew selected to work the game you have a question about was an excellent crew.  They are some of the best in the business and they are very much unbiased arbiters of the rules who properly and correctly officiated the game.  

You note "The "Ref" ruled he was not an eligible receiver after running out of bounds by his own choice."  This was a correct ruling and the mechanic for the official to toss his hat to signify the receiver is OB was correct.  This tells me from viewing the play the officials were watching the receivers, determining when eligible and not eligible and they were watching their keys correctly.  

I have gone back and watched the game film you ask about and I believe I have seen the play you base your question. To clear up your confusion about the rule please understand, In NCAA football a player who voluntarily steps out of bounds may return and "continue on with the play."  An eligible receiver may also continue to participate in the play- he just can not be the first offensive player to touch or catch a legal forward pass that was not previously tipped or touched by an official or the defense or after possessed by an offensive player. NCAA Rules 7-3-4 and 7-3-5.  If the eligible receiver is knocked out of bounds by a defend we he must return immediately to the field of play[immediately is interpreted in the NCAA Interpretations and Rule bulletins]

Said another way, An eligible receiver loses his eligibility if the receiver goes out of bounds. If the receiver touches the ball after coming back it, the foul is illegal touching and the penalty is a loss of down at the previous spot. The two exceptions to this rule are:
1 If the receiver was forced out by an opponent and came back in at his earliest opportunity;
2 If the ball was touched first by an opponent or an official, the receiver regains his eligibility to legally touch/catch the ball free from a foul .

Please know under NCAA rules there is not a  "5 yard bump rule" as in the NFL and I suspect you might be confusing or combing the different rules and this may be part of the confusion.

You can only have pass interference of an eligible pass receiver when a legal forward pass crosses the line of scrimmage. If the receiver was not eligible [as was in this case] then you cannot have pass interference.  Likewise if the pass was illegal [say thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage you cannot have PI and if the pass did not cross the line of scrimmage you cannot have PI [there are other fouls that could be called depending on the action, but not PI.]

Here is a link for a free down load of the rule book if you want to have a copy to look at.  I note that you wanted to possibly take a look at the rule book.  I hope this helps to clear up any confusion and that the rule book is of assistance or at least intrigue.

Thanks again for the question and sorry for the delay in my reply I had to go back and look at the game and try to find the play you asked about.

Lastly here is a link to to  Pass interference video that explains it.  hopefully you can view it   i was having difficulty getting it embedded here as it is from a private website that is a great reference that officials use  It helps to explain PI that is a very complicated or confusion rule until you have a good grasp of it.

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Vic Winnek


Liability Issues (Legal & Insurance) arising from coaching, playing, refereeing, product liability; Football injury cases.


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