Controversy arose on Saturday as Central Michigan had one last chance to defeat Oklahoma State. Unfortunately, it was one chance too many allowed under the rules.
On fourth down, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph threw a pass out of bounds as time expired, and the officials ruled intentional grounding and that there would be an untimed down. The loss of down from the grounding penalty gave Central Michigan possession of the ball, and they scored on the ensuing play and won the game.
— FS1 (@FS1) September 10, 2016
The issue with this series of plays is that an intentional grounding penalty carries with it a loss of down. Although under NCAA rules a period generally can’t end on an accepted penalty, Rule 3-2-3-a-1 states the following:
The period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the statement of the penalty includes a loss of down.
Even though it was fourth down and Central Michigan would take over possession with a turnover on downs, that is not relevant because fouls that occur before a change in possession are enforced before a new series can be awarded. When all of this is taken into account, the game should have ended with the intentional grounding call before Central Michigan had the opportunity to throw their Hail Mary.
After the game, referee Tim O’Dey from the Mid-American Conference spoke to a pool reporter and acknowledged a mistake had been made.
Officials admit that Central Michigan miracle play should not have happened. But now what? pic.twitter.com/CUCZje5wdF
— Travis Haney (@travhaney) September 10, 2016
Many times when there is a disputed finish to a game, there are calls to have the decision overturned. This game is no different. However, once the game is declared final there is no way to change the outcome. The Big 12 coordinator of officials, NFL referee Walt Anderson, has already issued a statement on the matter.
— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) September 10, 2016
The supervisor of officials in the Mid-America Conference is former NFL referee Bill Carollo. He issued a statement as well acknowledging the error.
MAC acknowledges mistake at end of CMU/OSU game. Final result still stands. pic.twitter.com/jhdGQXpSDK
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 10, 2016
It should be noted, as Anderson alluded to, that in the ever-expanding role of instant replay the crew in the review booth could have called down to the field and helped to rectify the situation, but once the game is over the score is final.