Posted by: marcmwm | November 11, 2008

Easy for me to say, but I thought it was pass interference

I don’t see how in any scenario the Trey Stross-Anthony Scirrotto play wasn’t pass interference. You guys know that I’m an objective observer.

Here’s my view:

1) Contact was made before the ball arrived and while it was in the air. In college, DBs can chuck receivers until the ball is in the air. Yes, Scirrotto made a play on the ball. Stross happened to be in the way.

2) The ball was catchable. When I first saw it in the pressbox, that was my thought, not catchable. Replays show the ball hits Scirrotto in the hands or facemask after he knocked Stross out of the way. It was a catchable ball.

Here’s a view from Bob Flounders, Penn State beat writer for the Patriot-News out of Harrisburg, Pa.

A 50/50 call? I think there is some merit to that. I think if it’s a no-call, the outrage wouldn’t have echoed far out of Iowa City, but you can bet Kirk Ferentz’s headphones would’ve been smashed.

One thing I’ve learned about officiating this season is the “when in doubt” philosophy. When in doubt, officials will tend to not call a pass interference penalty. The flag was thrown instantly in this case. The official saw what he needed to see.

Ferentz didn’t have a lot to say about the call.

“They had one, we had one,” he said. “It’s part of football. If a team has a penalty, it’s a penalty.”

Here’s the YouTube of the play, let me know what you think:



  1. If you’re going to criticize that call, than you need to question the roughing the kicker call on Iowa. Both penalties had a significant impact on the game.

    Also, on the first PSU possession, what was the official ruling on the fumble? It was hard to hear from the stands. The replay I saw at home looked like a fumble in the end zone which Iowa recovered. If that is the case, it’s TD. If PSU recovered it, it should have been a safety. If it was an incomplete pass, the ball should have been spotted out at the original line of scrimmage. Fortunately, it worked out due to the short punt.

    I was not impressed with the officiating in the game. But my seats are very high up and I didn’t have the advantage of replay so it’s hard to be too judgemental.

  2. I think it has only drawn comments because the TV angle did raise the question of catchability. I thought it might have been uncatchable until the replay, also. That, and Griese with his mild and seemingly permanent disdain for Iowa weighing in with an “I don’t know about that one … ” comment.

    It was artful of the PSU punter to tap Sandeman on the head on the way down. But that will always get a call, it seems to me. You have to block the punt lower, or just smother it and the punter head-on.

  3. If that’s not pass interference, what is?

  4. It was most certainly pass interference but someone should tell Stross (a highjumper) that he needs to go get the ball. There is NO excuse for Penn State’s safety having outjumped him .

  5. That was a blatant PI and the fumble was a safety at worst as no one had possession until the ball was in the end zone.

    Who cares? What’s done is done and we won.

  6. Marc –

    There was a few questionable calls in this game that went against Iowa… No the fumble in the first quarter is kind of a moot point b/c it didn’t really have a adverse effect on the Hawks since we did put points on the board but if it didn’t you can bet your last dollar that hawk fans would be OUTRAGED!!

    The P.I. call was totally accurate, Chris Martin from the Big Ten Network was outraged with this call, however since he is a former DB I would say he’s a little biased… The DB has a right for the ball no doubt, but he CANNOT impede the WR in doing so, and by preventing Stross from jumping up and getting the ball he IMPEDED him from getting the ball.

    The roughing the punter call should have been a good no call, but no instead it was a bad call that could have cost us the win, the puter hung his leg out and once Sandeman ran under his leg he brought it down so it grazed his shoulder pad… But if you want to look at it in a positive way it’s probably a good thing it happened b/c it took more time off the clock and the Defense was able to hold and come up with the big turnover with enough time to move the offense in position to win the game…

  7. NOT pass interference…should have been a no call, here’s why:

    1) dbs and wrs have equal rights to the ball
    2) scirrotto was actually in better position to catch the ball, and it was the hawkeye that initiated the contact
    3) coincidental contact, as per the rules, is not justification for pass interference

  8. Mike is the lone dissenter so far.

    Please, show respect. It’s OK to discuss but let’s not get into name calling or any other disrespect.

    I think the early contact and the fact that Scirrotto had Stross in front of him made it a no-brainer, in the official’s eyes. The flag came out right away. The official didn’t see any “coincidental” in the contact.

  9. How could Stross have initiated contact if he didn’t even see Scirrotto since he was behind Stross?

    That was the correct call everytime and would be called every time.

  10. LOL…. I didn’t know any State fans read the Gazette Marc

  11. I don’t know why or how this works, but I’ve met a lot of Penn State fans who live in Iowa. I know there are transplants, but not all of them are from out east. I guess that’s called tradition.

  12. I’m actually with Mike. By the letter of the law, it wasn’t PI. However, a play like that probably gets flagged 99% of the time, so it’s hard to get too upset if you’re a PSU fan. Reverse the jerseys and they’d be screaming about it being PI. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned it’s a makeup for the BS roughing the kicker call, which absolutely should have been just a five yard running into the kicker penalty.

  13. It’s been a good debate and I want to thank readers for not getting all weird.

    I think we all can agree it was a tough, bang-bang call.

  14. This rule appears in both the offensive and defensive PI rules.

    “7-3-8-b & 7-3-8-c
    It is not offensive pass interference:
    2) When two or more eligible players are making a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch or bat the pass. Eligible players of either team have equal rights to the ball.”

    How much more of a bona fide effort does the defender have to make? He stopped short of the receiver, jumped straight up, was watching the ball the entire time, and put his hands up to catch the ball. In fact, the only reason he didn’t intercept the ball is because the receiver ran into him (which doesn’t necessarily make it OPI either).

    The fact that the flag came in so quickly makes me believe that the official saw the play developing and was expecting to see interference. He had his flag ready before the contact occurred and was going to throw it no matter what. He failed to see that the defender was playing the ball and forgot that the defender has just as much right to the ball as the receiver.

  15. Altor, it sounded as though Joe Paterno was at peace, as much as he can be anyway, with the call. But that still doesn’t disprove your point.

    I’d love to know if Penn State sent a tape into the Big Ten.

    You make some assumptions on what the official was thinking, but I don’t think those assumptions are unreasonable. Heck, you might be right.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  16. […] surge toward a potential BCS berth crashed in Iowa City on Nov. 8. It might’ve been the pass interference. But we all know it ended in this. Yes, the Lions fell short, but QB Darryl Clark established […]

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