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College Football/OleMiss/Bama pop-pass TD

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Question
OM Qb's trail foot inside the LOS, no penalty.  OM lineman clearly downfield on replay, not reviewable.  Does the same interpretation apply to the lineman as to his trail foot/toe breaking the downfield plane of the LOS?  Is it possible that a lineman could be 4 to 4 1/2 yards down field and still have a portion of his body inside the "safe" zone..these are big guys with looong legs. Also, since the rule states neutral zone and not LOS would that alter the interpretation or is the downfield plane of the nose of the football and neutral zone the same?  Why not alter the rule to say any ineligible offensive player downfield on a pass will result in a penalty during an official review or would this cause a tremendous amount of time for all the reviews and drag the game out beyond a reasonable time with all the interuptions?

Answer
William,

Great question.  You are correct.  To be an illegal pass for being beyond the line of scrimmage, the passer's entire body and the ball must be beyond the line prior to the pass.  So, on that play, this was no the case.  

It is true that the lineman was clearly downfield.  They have the same restriction, although officials tend to be very lenient on it.  They have to be CLEARLY more than three yards downfield.  We don't split hairs.  In the play you cite, the lineman was well downfield.  

You are correct that the downfield plane of the nose of the football is the front end of the neutral zone.  That said, as I said earlier, we don't split hairs on that.  

You are correct that ineligible receivers downfield is not reviewable.  Instant replay is only able to add very few fouls (too many men on the field, illegal forward pass, illegal blocking on a free kick, to name the few).  Although replay is getting more involved, the NCAA doesn't want them to have to review everything.  Games are too long as it is.  

I hope that helps.

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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