Here's the real reason Jim Harbaugh drew a flag in the Ohio State game
By now, you’ve seen it a bunch of times.
Jim Harbaugh was not having any of the incorrect offsides call in the third quarter against Ohio State. In a buildup of anger from some previous calls that didn’t go Michigan’s way, Harbaugh let loose.
In case you forgot, here’s what happened.
When mom says you can’t play Xbox until after you clean your room. pic.twitter.com/iZnKm9Fp7x
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 26, 2016
That tantrum drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Harbaugh, which ultimately set up an Ohio State touchdown. Harbaugh said after the game that he was confused as to why he was flagged. He said an official told him he would’ve been given a technical foul in basketball.
Harbaugh didn’t like that explanation. But there was more to it than that.
As Kirk Herbstreit said on the broadcast, Harbaugh’s play cards flew well on to the field of play as a result of his throw. According to an in-depth Chicago Tribune story with Bill Carollo, the Big Ten’s coordinator of football officials, that’s what led to Harbaugh’s properly-called penalty.
The TV didn’t show that Harbaugh’s cards landed inside the numbers some 25 feet on to the field.
The officials used the “All-30” tape, which shows a wide-angle view with all players and eight on-field officials. In “The Football Code,” the NCAA rulebook states that “conduct that might incite players or spectators against the officials is a violation.” Under that rule, the proper call was made.
The Tribune story highlighted some of the misinformation swirling about the backgrounds of the officials. For Michigan conspiracy theorists, it’s definitely worth a read.
There were also some interesting remarks about the controversial calls in the game. For example, Carollo claimed that whatever call made on the field on the game-deciding fourth-down run by J.T. Barrett was going to stand. He maintained that there wasn’t enough visual evidence to overturn whatever originally call was made.
As for the uncalled pass interference on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley in double overtime that got Harbaugh’s blood pumping, that was deemed a “50-50 call.”
It wasn’t a perfectly-called game by any means. As the Tribune story revealed, mistakes were made by the league’s top-rated crew during the biggest game of the year.
But perhaps some of the scrutiny of the officiating will fade with more perspective.