Big East: No comment on replay overturn of Washington TD

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The intrepid Bob Condotta, who covers Washington football for the Seattle Times, contacted the Big East to see if a qualified spokesperson would discuss whether replay officials from the conference made a mistake when they overturned the on-field call that Huskies running back Chris Polk scored a touchdown in last Saturday's game at Notre Dame.

The conference told him no comment.

Feel free to read into that as you wish.

Condotta noted: "The Pac-10 said earlier that any comment on the replay situation would have to come from the Big East, since it was that conference whose officials were in the replay booth. So there you go, a new loophole apparently found in college football officiating to avoid public accountability."

It was a close call whether Polk scored on a 6-yard TD run. The issue is that NCAA rules require indisputable video evidence to overturn an on-field call.

If Polk had scored, the Huskies would have taken a 31-22 lead with seven minutes left in the game. Instead, they ended up losing 37-30 in overtime.

And, of course, if the Huskies hadn't failed to score a touchdown on two possessions that reached the Notre Dame 1-yard line, the replay issue would have been moot.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian hasn't been terribly outspoken about the controversial calls -- his players and Washington athletic director Scott Woodward have said far more -- but he did take strong issue with Notre Dame's counter-gripe about the "roughing the snapper" penalty called on Notre Dame.

"The roughing the snapper on the field goal was blatant," Sarkisian said. "I don't see how you couldn't see that as a penalty. It was blatant. They lined right up on our snapper and ran him over."

Irish coach Charlie Weis had a different take on Sunday. From the Notre Dame website:

Q. Your thoughts on the roughing the snapper call against Ian Williams?

COACH WEIS: Well, see, that call, just so you understand, there is a call roughing the snapper, but I believe that that call was in error. Roughing the snapper is when you put a guy over the center, over his head it's trying to protect the center so the center doesn't get killed. If you line up over his head and run right through him, that is a call.

I think if you go back and watch that play, at least from the multiple times I watched it this morning, Ian got called for it, and Ian (Williams) was on his left shoulder, on the center's right shoulder, but he was on the defensive left side trying to penetrate into that A gap, and it didn't look to me at all like he was trying to go through the guy's helmet.

How can these two intelligent men come to such widely disparate conclusions? Both appear to be misunderstanding the obscure rule.

Says the NCAA rule book: "When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap(A.R. 9-1-2-XXII-XXIV)."

It's not a matter of where a player lines up. It's a matter of initiating any contact with the snapper.