It&8217;s Official: Was Young already down?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

With all the hype about the use of instant replay and play review in all of this season&8217;s college football bowl games, one would think that a crucial play in the most important bowl game of them all would warrant review.

Late in the first half in the Rose Bowl, outstanding Texas quarterback Vince Young ran an option play. As he went down, he pitched to a trailing back who went in for the touchdown.

One problem. It was apparent on TV that Young was down before he pitched the ball. I do not know why that play wasn&8217;t reviewed.

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The sole judge of plays to be reviewed is supposed to be the replay official in a booth in the press box. Neither coaches nor officials on the field have any input into the selection of plays to be reviewed.

One can what-if any play or official&8217;s call to death. Texas would have likely scored on that possession, but they could have fumbled the ball away and left USC with their lead. Who knows?

There was scant mention of that play in media coverage. Young&8217;s abilities and success in that game made him an obvious and deserved media darling.

A couple of questions came by e-mail that other readers might find interesting. About bowl game officiating assignments, one reader seemed to think the bowls themselves made the assignments.

The NCAA, after teams are selected for the bowls, notifies the various conferences which bowl games it wishes each conference to assign officials to work. It used to be that conferences were forbidden to assign officials because of seniority or retirement, only using ranking to make those assignments.

I do not know if that still holds true. Each conference also assigned the replay officials to go with their on-field crew.

Now a personal note. Four of the last five trips I have made to Natchez involved funerals. First, Neet Marks, wife of legendary coach Bobby Marks, sister of Natchez High legend and longtime Natchez Mayor Tony Byrne and mother of Rusty, Byrnsie and Lisa lost a long battle with cancer. Neet was a great supporter of her husband and children.

Then, Col. Bill Locklear, a real member of &8220;The Greatest Generation,&8221; died. After Bill, my very close friend for over 30 years, Henry Eidt, passed away. Henry was father of Cathedral athletes and students and Uncle Henry to my children.

Last week it was Blase Gaud/, about whom much has been written. I had known Blase since he was about 8, and his personality never changed, even after his accident. Despite one of the most debilitating accidents, his focus never wavered. He simply changed directions and kept on going.

All of those people touched many lives in a positive way, and they will be missed by more than their families.

And that&8217;s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at