The 5-6 Tulane Green Wave visited SMU in Week 13, needing a win to reach bowl eligibility. The Mustangs led 41-38 in the final seconds, but Tulane had the ball on the SMU 1-yard line and decided to go for the win rather than kick a field goal.
The Wave kept the ball on the ground despite not having any timeouts. Quarterback Jonathan Banks kept it and rumbled toward the goal line. He was marked short.
With Banks short of the line and well inbounds, the clock ran out. SMU marched off with a 41-38 win pending a video review. And, spoiler alert: The review did not help Tulane. The spot on Banks’ carry was upheld, and Tulane finished the year 5-7.
On immediately available replays, this looked like a horrible call. But new video from SMU’s video department says otherwise.
A staffer provided this shot:
If we enhance that, Banks’ helmet hits the ground at a point when the ball looks short of the goal line. It might’ve touched the plane at this point, but likely not:
My opinion of the play has changed from “clear touchdown” to “likelier than not, he was down short.” Sometimes it’s all in the angles.
Here’s what CBS Sports Network’s broadcast showed:
One more look at the Tulane play called short of the goal line and upheld after review: pic.twitter.com/lL9gyHJsQB— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 25, 2017
Here’s what I wrote then:
The NCAA’s football rulebook requires “indisputable” video evidence to overturn a call on the field. That’s why Banks’ probable touchdown here couldn’t count. If this were a court of law, it would’ve been impossible to convict the refs for making a bad call.
But this isn’t a courtroom. This is just you and me talking, and I can tell you it’s close to a certainty that Banks scored here. And the only reason I hedge with terms like “close to” and “probably” is that there might exist some angle that I haven’t seen.
This angle, in particular, strongly suggested a touchdown:
All I can see there is that the area behind the goal line, where the grass is green, doesn’t include any part of Banks’ body except his foot touching the ground. Plus, I can see that nearly Banks’ entire torso is at least even with the goal line, and that there’s a guy in a black uniform underneath him who’s propping him up in the air.
SMU’s video tells a different story, though. I thought Tulane had gotten a raw deal, but the call of no touchdown now seems probably correct.