On the ultimate play of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel’s fourth-down go in additional time fell to the turf.
It seemed as if Miami had received a 24-17 thriller to seize the BCS nationwide championship. The Hurricanes would have joined Alabama (1978-79) and Nebraska (1994-95) as the one faculties up to now 35 years to win consecutive nationwide titles.
The U. dynasty was again.
After which …
Terry Porter, the sphere decide from the Huge 12 Convention crew, threw what’s arguably probably the most controversial penalty flag in faculty soccer historical past.
What made it worse was he waited a couple of seconds (which on reflection now looks like an eternity) to make up his thoughts to throw it. Porter finally referred to as go interference on Miami’s Glenn Sharpe, and the Buckeyes got a primary down. Krenzel scored on third down, and Maurice Clarett scored in a second additional time.
Ohio State received 31-24 to assert its first nationwide title in 34 years.
The 2003 Fiesta Bowl shall be introduced on Throwback Thursday: CFB Classics (7 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App).
Earlier than the controversial ending is proven once more, two of our specialists, Invoice Connelly and Mark Schlabach, focus on the go interference penalty and different notorious blown calls in faculty soccer lore:
First issues first: Was go interference the proper name?
Schlabach: Clearly, I feel it is dependent upon which crew you have been rooting for that evening. Ohio State followers in all probability assume it was probably the most correct penalty name of all time, whereas Miami followers are nonetheless cursing Porter’s title to this present day.
Whether or not you imagine it was proper or incorrect, there is no denying Porter took ceaselessly to throw the flag, which is what made the penalty so controversial. The road decide on the sideline wanting straight on the play did not throw a flag. Neither did Porter after the ball hit the bottom. Fireworks went off, and Miami’s gamers, coaches and followers stormed the sphere in celebration. A minimum of three or 4 seconds glided by earlier than Porter threw the flag. Porter mentioned he waited to replay the play in his thoughts and “needed to make double positive it was the proper name.”
Sadly for Miami, Porter was incorrect.
After going again and watching the play again and again on YouTube, it positive appears to be like like supposed receiver Chris Gamble simply dropped the ball. It wasn’t an ideal throw from Krenzel, however the ball was catchable and went proper by Gamble’s arms. Positive, Sharpe grabbed Gamble’s jersey for a cut up second, however I do not assume it was sufficient to change the play. Sharpe even turned his head round, which is not required in faculty soccer.
In a second like that, on fourth down in additional time with a nationwide championship on the road, I feel an official ought to swallow his whistle. Each Gamble and Sharpe had a proper to the ball, and I do not assume Sharpe’s contact was sufficient to change the play.
As Miami defensive backs coach Mark Stoops (now Kentucky’s head coach) mentioned after the sport, “There’s not one other official within the historical past of the sport that may make that decision.”
Apparently, in September 2007, Referee journal included Porter’s resolution among the many 18 greatest calls in officiating historical past. The journal mentioned that “Porter’s braveness was exemplary” and that he “did himself proud that evening.”
Connelly: Yeah, I discussed final week I used to be OK with the decision — it was inside the vary of each “it was honest to name” and “you did not have to name it.” However the pause made all of the distinction. You wait a beat, do not see a flag and begin to rejoice. It was some of the spectacular teases the game has seen, even when there was technically contact and technically may have been referred to as.
The place does the decision rank in your record of most controversial calls?
Schlabach: I feel you may argue that it was the worst name of all time due to what was at stake. It value Miami a second consecutive nationwide title and ended its 34-game profitable streak. It was a name made on the final play of the game’s most vital recreation. It does not get any larger than that. But it surely was additionally a judgment name and never a miscarriage of the rule e-book.
There have been extra boneheaded officiating errors — Colorado’s 5 downs in 1990, Nebraska’s “flea kicker” in opposition to Missouri in 1997, Oregon’s onside kick in opposition to Oklahoma in 2006 and Central Michigan’s further down in opposition to Oklahoma State in 2016. However these have been poor officiating calls made throughout regular-season video games. There wasn’t as a lot at stake, as painful as they may have been for the dropping facet. In fact, these blunders did assist Colorado and Nebraska maintain their respective nationwide championship-winning seasons intact.
Colorado’s fifth down was in all probability the worst name as a result of the officers on the sphere weren’t even counting performs.
Connelly: And Charles Johnson didn’t rating on fifth down, both!
Sorry. I normally maintain that Mizzou fan tucked away and out of sight.
Colorado was the recipient of that decision — and the Rocket Ismail clip — and managed to win a nationwide title regardless of a loss and a tie. The 1990 season was actually one of many strangest of all time.
By way of egregiousness, although, I’d all the time rank that Oregon-Oklahoma onside kick name because the worst name ever. The others have been judgment calls or sources of confusion or no matter, however not solely did Oregon virtually actually illegally contact the ball earlier than it had gone 10 yards, an Oklahoma participant additionally emerged from the pile with the ball. They usually nonetheless gave it to Oregon!
Granted, there’s at the least a small likelihood that, if that play is known as appropriately, we do not get an Oklahoma-Boise State Fiesta Bowl later that season. Florida in all probability nonetheless reaches the BCS title recreation over a 12-1 Oklahoma, however it’s in all probability greatest that we did not depart that one to likelihood. The school soccer universe would have missed out with out Oklahoma-Boise State. (I will assume Sooners followers disagree.)
Does just a little little bit of controversy assist or harm the esteem of a basic recreation like this?
Schlabach: I feel it solely helps its place in historical past. Point out Porter’s title in Columbus, Ohio, or Miami and followers will immediately keep in mind him throwing the flag. It was a basic recreation regardless as a result of there was a lot expertise on the sphere that evening, together with 18 first-round NFL draft picks. A complete of 58 gamers from these groups ultimately performed within the execs. The penalty merely added spice to an instantaneous basic.
Connelly: I do not essentially thoughts it. As a author, I do not put an asterisk by Ohio State’s victory, simply as I did not put an asterisk by Clemson’s win in final season’s Fiesta Bowl regardless of the controversial focusing on and no-catch calls that each went in opposition to the Buckeyes. Stuff occurs.
Controversial calls additionally guarantee that faculty soccer’s Pettiness Quotient is all the time excessive. Miami followers can ceaselessly inform Ohio State followers that their crew did not actually win that title, simply as Ohio State followers will say the identical to Clemson, and Mizzou followers will say it to Colorado and Nebraska followers.
Extra time apart, what’s your most lasting reminiscence from this recreation?
Schlabach: Sadly, it’s in all probability Miami working again Willis McGahee’s horrific knee damage within the fourth quarter. After catching a display go from Ken Dorsey, McGahee was instantly hit by Ohio State’s Will Allen. McGahee’s left knee was bent backward, inflicting tears of his ACL, MCL and posterior cruciate ligament. It was so horrific to look at.
I am positive Miami followers have debated whether or not the Fiesta Bowl even goes into additional time if McGahee wasn’t harm. I sat there questioning whether or not he would ever play once more, and I used to be surprised when he did not acquire a $2.5 million insurance coverage premium and entered the 2003 NFL draft. He wanted a number of surgical procedures and intensive rehabilitation to get well, however ended up working for almost 8,500 yards for 4 groups in 10 professional seasons in an unbelievable comeback.
Connelly: Fortunately, I’ve utterly blocked out all reminiscence of that damage. It was so dangerous that I locked it away, by no means to examine it once more. Because of that, my lasting reminiscence is simply continually considering, “How is Ohio State nonetheless on this recreation?”
And I am assuming Miami coaches and gamers have been considering the identical factor. The Buckeyes averaged 3.7 yards per play, blew a number of scoring probabilities and threw two picks. Krenzel was their main rusher. Clarett — a working again — pressured and recovered a fumble. Nothing about this recreation made sense. It was a masterful smoke-and-mirrors present, even by Jim Tressel’s requirements. And that made it intensely memorable, even earlier than the controversy.