The touchback call in the first quarter of the Louisville-Oregon State football game may have been correct according to the rules but it is inconsistent with the NCAA’s other fumble guidelines.

Adam Froman (Menefee Seay photo)

Louisville appeared to score a TD as quarterback Adam Froman scrambled 13 yards to the end zone. But after further review, a video replay showed Oregon State’s Suaesi Tuimaunei punched the ball out of Froman’s hands one yard short of the goal line and the ball went out of bounds.

Here’s what the NCAA rulebook says:

Ball carrier A1, advancing toward Team B’s goal line, fumbles when B1 bats the ball from his hand or tackles him from the rear. In either case, A1 loses possession short of the goal line, and the ball goes into Team B’s end zone, where Team B recovers.  RULING: Touchback. Impetus is charged to the fumble by Team A (Rule 8-6-1-a).

In this case, the ball went through the end zone and out of bounds.  So why is losing the ball at the goal line treated differently from fumbling the ball out of bounds?  The play occurred on a third down, and Louisville would have had one more opportunity.

A similar situation occurred a week earlier when Josh Chichester fumbled at the two yard line and the ball rolled out of bounds on the sideline. However, Louisville got the ball back and scored on the next play. Were we just lucky Chichester’s bobble didn’t roll into the end zone?

The logic of the rule makes sense only if your team is affected positively by the inconsistency.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Fumble rule inconsistent, costly for Louisville”
  1. I don’t see the logic either.

    I have to admit that it was a terrific defensive play. If it did not make ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day, it ought to have.

    I noticed Froman had the ball up tight to his chest when running with the ball anytime after that.

  2. Ah yes, but just recall what Coach Crum always used to remind us: You should play so that these things aren’t factors in a win or loss. GO CARDS!

  3. I appreciate your point but for some reason the end zone (and end line) is treated differently than the side line. It always has been in both college and the NFL. That is a lousy explanation but……….

  4. Froman only has his self to blame. He should of been carring it like a RB with a his left hand covering it. They played great and if they keep that fight up then I don’t see no problem in us winning the next 4

  5. On the subject of lousy rules, the call on Chichester for roughing the kicker was a critical play that cost us valuable field position. I do not understand why referees can’t distinguish between a player going to block the ball versus one just trying to lay the kicker out. This call is never made if the ball is actually blocked. What is the point of even going for the block? If you get close to blocking the punt the other team gets a first down!

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