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This Ohio State fan's video might convince even a Michigan fan that the call was right

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The part of this video on the Michigan-Ohio State ending that impressed us the most: the towel triangulation.

Until the end of time, Ohio State and Michigan fans will argue over whether J.T. Barrett got this fourth down conversion to set up the winning touchdown against Michigan.

Monday morning, we received an email from a concerned Ohioan who would like you all to know that Barrett did in fact get the first down. And unlike this game’s many MS Paint truthers out there, he’s armed with towel triangulation to prove his point.

Triangulating the furl of the towel on No. 44’s waist puts both angles together to show where Barrett was at this point in space and time.

"There’s the ball, plain as day," the video's narrator says. It’s true.

You can see the nose of the ball right where the cursor is in this screenshot below, and based on how far it'd traveled just before this moment, it sure looks like it’s already broken the line to gain before this frame (and not just the yellow, ESPN-superimposed one).

Yes, the video’s creator refers to a Michigan player as "that guy from up north," but the case is well done. The video even includes a back-and-to-the-left moment. It’s perfect.

Some Michigan fans will continue to fight tooth and nail about a referee conspiracy or allegedly shoddy camera work. And all will continue to be upset about the missed pass interference calls. The rest of the day’s officiating did go in Ohio State’s favor.

Anyone pinning this loss squarely on the officiating would have to discount the fact that a crafty OSU blitz led to Wilton Speight giving Ohio State a touchdown with a pick-six. They’d gloss over the interception that got the Buckeyes to start a different drive in the red zone, before Harbaugh advanced them further with his own brand of histrionics. And they’d forget Michigan fumbled on Ohio State’s 2-yard line.

The refs will always be to blame, not the miscues that contributed to the game being in overtime in the first place and so precariously perched the game on a referee’s spot.

Is there a better way to do this? Maybe, but it seems super hard.

Other sports, after all, have found precise ways to plot out ball movement. Tennis has the electronic line judge, and baseball has PITCHf/x tools that produce glorious strike-zone plots, like this one from Brooks Baseball, though it doesn’t actually use them in games:

If you can track the movements of a baseball going 95 miles per hour, why can’t you track whether a football with a circumference more than twice as long reaches a particular line on a field? It’s a reasonable question, and one posed in the wake of Michigan-Ohio State by Forbes’ Roger Groves:

If I am lost around Butte Montana, and my GPS can keep me from a wrong turn that takes me over the cliff, why can’t we triangulate the yard markers with a chipped football to give precision to a spot? Police already use technology to triangulate and record high crime areas. They have created algorithms to predict and match personnel with those areas. I have to believe the technology exists to experiment with ball marking.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh were looking into it at least as far back as 2011, and the NFL’s shown interest, too.

The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer got to the essence of the challenges five years ago. You need to make the tracker in the ball be completely, unfailingly exact. Anything less than that makes it worthless for calls as close as the Barrett spot.

A baseball can be triangulated by cameras all over a ballpark. It helps that when a ball is pitched from 60 feet away, it moves without interruption until it’s caught or hit. A football isn’t like that. It changes hands once, twice, or three times during a play. It gets tucked away in a swarm of bodies. So the equipment has to deal with all kinds of interference and jostling.

"You can't change the weight, the spiral, the torque or the feel of the football," one of the CMU scientists told Farmer in 2011. "It is really critically important, otherwise you've just ruined the whole purpose. And for that, it became really critical that we look at it from the mechanical engineering viewpoint."

There are plenty of other issues and questions.

A GPS tracker of some sort won’t tell you whether a player’s knee touched down before the ball broke a plane. And how do you make sure the tracker stays locked in the same place inside every ball?

What if the tracker is jarred loose by the sport’s exceptional physical contact? Footballs are not see-through. How do you know the tracker is firmly nestled inside the far tip of both ends of the football, with no variance between balls?

How do you prevent malfunctioning at such a close distance that might override the view of a side judge who has a clear view? Do you prioritize the tracker’s view or a camera’s view? And so on.

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