Dennis Hannigan’s voicemail is already filling up. The ACC’s Coordinator of Football Officials is having to deal with a significantly bad ruling this week. While officials strive to be unbiased and unseen, it was difficult to understand the rationale behind a particular call in the game between NC State and Wake Forest this afternoon.
In the third quarter, with the Wolfpack only up 21 points, Wake Forest quarterback Kendall Hinton was sacked for a loss of one yard, bringing up a long third down play. NC State finally was offered an opportunity to start putting the game away, except Jerod Fernandez was called for holding. Replays showed that while some contact occurred, it was difficult to see and happened while Hinton was already in the process of going to the ground. Wake Forest would go on to convert that drive into a field goal, putting state in a precarious position at 28-10.
NC State would lose any semblance of momentum after that and did not score again until a punt return in the fourth quarter. While the Wolfpack won 35-17, we must call on the ACC to increase accountability among their officials. Individual plays within each game are important and likely determine the outcome of every team’s season.
NC State’s Dave Doeren and Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson did not comment on the play, likely because they have not yet watched the tape. Multiple television angles failed to resolve the situation, either, with the play-by-play crew unable to definitively identify the infraction. It is an unfortunate situation, but we will likely be breaking down this play for the next several days. Press conferences, local sports talk radio, and message boards will be awash in the dissection of this errant holding call. And chances are we will see another release from the ACC expressing support of their officials. We need accountability and we need it yesterday.
Late in the first half of North Carolina’s 26-13 win over Virginia, UNC wide receiver Mack Hollins was flagged for offensive pass interference on a reception that would have given the Tar Heels a first-and-goal opportunity. Larry Fedora expressed his displeasure at the call by spiking his play sheet to the ground. Though it had no impact on whether not it was a good call, Fedora’s ensuing decision to chase down an official before heading to the locker room to further share his opinion clearly indicates that the referees made a call that a coach disagreed with. Several, if not most, of the fans in Kenan Stadium joined Fedora in being upset over the call.
Replays showed there was contact on the play, so there’s no denying the referee exercised his trained ability to make a judgment call. There’s also no denying it might have been a bad call. In addition, it could have been a good call. Further complicating matters, it may have looked similar to another play that has happened before that was not called the same way.
Where is the justice?