Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Two days after Clemson beat Ohio State 29–23 in the Fiesta Bowl, Big Ten supervisor of officials Bill Carollo weighed in on a controversial call that affected the Buckeyes.
In the third quarter of the College Football Playoff semifinal game, officials ruled Clemson’s Justyn Ross fumbled the ball when Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah hit him. OSU safety Jordan Fuller scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes a slight 23–21 lead.
However, the play was overturned and ruled an incompletion after it was reviewed by officials. SEC video review official Gerald Hodges initiated the video review.
“I haven’t talked to anybody who thought it was an incomplete pass,” Carollo, who has over 30 years of officiating experience, told CBS Sports. “To reverse it, it has to be really obvious.”
Carollo said he spoke with Ohio State coach Ryan Day and SEC officiating supervisor Steve Shaw, whose conference worked the game. He said Day was upset but called him “a pro. Very professional,” regarding the situation.
After the game, referee Ken Williamson defended the officiating crew’s decision to a Fiesta Bowl pool reporter.
“We had a lot of good looks on it,” Williamson said. “We put on fast motion and slow motion. The player did not complete the process of the catch. So, therefore, the pass was incomplete.”
Carollo said Williamson “misspoke on that. The ball was not moving.”
The decision has sparked much debate online since the game, and former NFL referee Terry McAulay was among those who weighed in on social media.
“This is a great angle. There is absolutely no way replay should have reversed. ‘Indisputable video evidence’ is simply not there,” he said.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith even referenced McAulay’s tweet in a text message to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel.
“Terry McAulay is 100-percent correct!!! Unreal!!” He added: “Feel free to share how pissed I am,” Thamel shared on Twitter.
With the win in the Fiesta Bowl, No. 3 Clemson advanced to the CFP national championship and will face No. 1 LSU. The title game will be played in New Orleans on Jan. 13.