The game of football is full of rules, most of which are straightforward and easy to understand. Others are open to a little interpretation. An apparent pass to Amara Darboh was ruled an incompletion due to an interpretation of something that looks to be straightforward.
It's not an excuse, it's a fact...a bad call affected the outcome of Saturday's game
After checking the NCAA rulebook for what constitutes a catch, I found the following:
ARTICLE 3. a. To catch a ball means that a player:
1. Secures control of a live ball in flight with his hands or arms before the ball touches the ground, and
2. Touches the ground in bounds with any part of his body, and then
3. Maintains control of the ball long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game, i.e., long enough to pitch or hand the ball, advance it, avoid or ward off an opponent, etc., and
4. Satisfies paragraphs b, c, and d below.
b.If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass...he must maintain complete and continuous control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground...[t]his is also required for a player attempting to make a catch at the sideline and going to the ground out of bounds. If he regains control inbounds prior to the ball touching the ground it is a catch.
c. If the player loses control of the ball while simultaneously touching the ground with any part of his body, or if there is doubt that the acts were simultaneous, it is not a catch. If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball, even if it touches the ground, will not be considered a loss of possession; he must lose control of the ball in order for there to be a loss of possession.
d. If the ball touches the ground after the player secures control and continues to maintain control, and the elements above are satisfied, it is a catch.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of anyone with eyes, Amara Darboh caught that ball. And although I posted part of this rule in the game thread and reluctantly went along with the call, I am going back on my statement. This is a bad rule to begin with and the officials got the call wrong even after watching it with their eyes closed. I'm still waiting for my sources to confirm whether the officials actually have eyes or not. It appears as they did when I watched the game live, but missing that call brings their anatomy into question.
There are two keys to what constitutes a catch: #4 and paragraph d. Although Darboh did lose control of the ball when he hit the ground, he clearly satisfied the first three points of the rule. Paragraph "d" says Darboh caught the ball--Darboh had two feet on the ground, turned his body, made a football move and dove for the first down marker...all while maintaining control. According to the rulebook, the fact that the ball touched the ground should not have been a part of the equation.
I'm not going to sit here and say that the officiating lost this game for Michigan. There were plenty of opportunities for the Wolverines to move the chains and score some points, so the loss ultimately falls on the entire team. What can be said, though, is that the officials certainly didn't help the situation. Even after reviewing the play and seeing Darboh make a football play, to announce the call as "confirmed" is unacceptable.
There is not a doubt in my mind that there will be an announcement from the league indicating that the officials got the call wrong. Little consolation for a team that has more than enough problems without officials making things even more difficult.