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ESPN: Big Ten Says Officials Used "Proper Officiating Mechanics" on Nebraska's Game-Winning Touchdown

David McGee

In a statement to ESPN, Big Ten officials confirmed that the officials used "proper officiating mechanics" on Brandon Reilly's controversial touchdown catch that gave Nebraska a 39-38 victory over Michigan State.

"Per NCAA rules, the instant replay crew cannot review the severity of contact, as that is a judgment call handled by the officials on the field. If the player went out of bounds without contact, he may not return to the field to make the catch unless it has been touched first by an opponent. The instant replay crew did confirm contact between the players, that the wide receiver reestablished himself in the field of play and completed the catch. After the replay review, the referee announced that the play stands as called on the field. The intent of instant replay is not to review all judgment calls."

Whether the contact forced the receiver out of bounds is a judgement call that cannot be reviewed. Replay can merely confirm that contact occurred.

Jon Solomon from CBS Sports received further clarification from Big Ten officiating coordinator Bill Carollo:

"The degree of that (contact) you can debate for the next 10 years," Carollo said. "When you've got 4.3 speed running down the sideline, it doesn't take a whole lot to move you. It's not one of those obvious ones that people will say he was pushed. These defensive backs are very well coached and he was probably taught exactly that way. I wouldn't say to coach these guys differently, but they know that's the risk when you run down the sideline with them. ... He's squeezing the sideline. That's what the defensive back is supposed to do. He's trying to get him out of bounds."

Kind of sounds like if the official had ruled that Reilly was ineligible, it would also have been a proper call.

"Either way, we're going to have to make a decision. You take a touchdown away, it's a big play. Do I wish it was more obvious? Sure. But replay can't fix that. It's a tough judgment call."