Apparently Jim Harbaugh isn’t the only person in the Bay Area complaining about a play that they seem to think happened. Harbaugh opened his press conference on Saturday complaining about the interference penalty on Stanford at the end of the second quarter.
Here’s what the Chronicle had to say:
Harbaugh was not thinking about Stanford’s postseason when he came down on the officiating with an unsolicited verbal barrage. He was angry about a play on a Stanford punt in the second quarter with the Irish leading 14-7. The kick bounced off the hands of Irish returner Armando Allen and was recovered by Stanford at the Irish 37-yard line. However, officials called Stanford’s Nate Wilcox-Fogel for interfering with the catch, even though replays suggested otherwise.
Now, I am not sure what replay Jake Curtis, the author of the Chronicle article, is referring to, but the one on my DVR clearly shows that the ball NEVER touched Armando Allen – let alone his hands. The ball does, however, hit Stanford’s #85 – Nate Wilcox. Now, if someone wants to argue that there shouldn’t have been a 15 yard penalty on the play, that I could at least understand. Then again, if the ball hit a Stanford player, it seems to me like that might prevent a punt returner from catching the ball.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the ball never touched Allen. It never touched Sergio Brown, who did bump into Allen. It did hit Wilcox. So the best case scenario for Stanford on the play is that the ball should have been dead at the spot Wilcox touched it and that is exactly what color commentator Pat Hayden said during the broadcast.
Curtis did at least get one thing right that Harbaugh didn’t. Harbaugh, who apparently doesn’t know the NCAA rulebook too well yet thought the play should have been a fumble recovered by Stanford and returned for a touchdown. As Curtis correctly points out, even if Allen had touched the ball (which he didn’t), it would have been a muffed punt which could not be advanced by the kicking team.
Actually, it would have been a muff, and recovering players cannot advance a muff, but it still would have been Stanford’s ball. Instead, Notre Dame had the ball at the Stanford 48-yard line and turned it into a score that made it 21-7.