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College Football/Illegal touching

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Question
During the Utah vs. Oregon game, the Utah player fumbled on the 1 yard line.  However, the player for Oregon player to recover/touch first had gone out of bounds voluntarily.  Why wasn't this called illegal touching and the play called back?

Answer
Charles,

Great question, and a play that was officiated absolutely perfectly.  College officials around the country are giving huge kudos for those officials for their patience and judgment on the play.  Could not have been done better.

The rules do not prohibit a defensive player from going out of bounds during a play.  During a scrimmage play (not a kick), the only restriction in the rules is that no eligible offensive receiver may go out of bounds on his own (not due to contact by an opponent) and touch a legal forward pass while in the field of play or in the end zone until it has been touched by an opponent or an official.  

There is no such restriction on the defense, and there is no restriction on the offense on this play either, because the forward pass was completed.  Provided that the player reestablishes himself in the field of play (by touching inbounds while not touching anything out of bounds), he eligible to touch and recover the ball.

Good question.  Great play from which to learn on both sides.  The officials did a perfect job on it.  

Bill Robers

College Football

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William Robers

Expertise

I can answer rules questions and officiating questions (including training, mechanics, and general questions).

Experience

College Football Official since 2005; assist in training newer officials.

Organizations
Big Sky Conference Officials Association Sports Lawyers Association Rotary International

Education/Credentials
Law Degree from University of Minnesota Law School, 2001 MBA from Carlson School of Management at the U. of Minnesota, 2001 B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University, 1997

Awards and Honors
Post-Season official in 2012 and 2013.

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