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Sunday, September 19, 2010
Big East: Officials correct in MSU-ND game

By Adam Rittenberg

There's certainly more important news at Michigan State today, but the Big East has weighed in on the controversial end to Saturday night's Notre Dame-Michigan State game.

As Michigan State lined up for what became the game-winning fake field goal and touchdown pass, the play clock appeared to reach zero. No delay-of-game penalty was called, and you know the rest.

Big East officials worked the game, and the league on Sunday released a statement backing up the crew.
"After review, the conference believes that the game officials correctly applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine, in a consistent manner, when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The responsibility is assigned to the back judge, who in this situation was standing beneath the upright. Proper mechanics dictate that his focus be directed to the play clock as it approaches zero. When the play clock display reads zero, he must re-direct his attention to the ball. At that time, if the snap has not started, a flag will be thrown for delay of game. If the snap has begun, no flag will be thrown.
Under these procedures, there will always be a small amount of lag time between the time the clock reads zero and the time the back judge is able to see the football. On the play in question, this lag time created the situation where it appears the play clock expired just before the snap. We believe the snap occurred well within the normal lag time for the back judge to make this determination. This play is not reviewable under current NCAA rules."

So that's that.

Michigan State holder Aaron Bates, who threw the touchdown pass, told me he saw three seconds left on the play clock when he motioned for the snap, which came almost immediately afterward.