ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Two days after a blowout win over a conference rival, Jim Harbaugh still can’t get over a late-game spot by the officiating crew.
Harbaugh was asked about one play but offered his perspective on another, a questionable third-down spot by officials in the late stages of the fourth quarter of Michigan’s 41-8 win Saturday against Illinois.
On the game’s final drive, with the final score in place and the Wolverines looking to run out the clock, quarterback John O’Korn hit Drake Harris for a 7-yard gain on a third-and-9 play. After the play was reviewed, the spot stood, leaving Michigan with a fourth and 2. Harbaugh’s contention was the ball should have been spotted closer to the first-down marker, leaving the Wolverines with a shorter fourth-down play.
“I thought you were going to bring up the spot on the third down,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse call in the game of football. After the replay. Where you can spot it. Spot it and that play could stand. It could have been spotted further out on the replay.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more strange replay. But somebody said, if it doesn’t make the line to gain, then that’s where you spot it. It’d be interesting. So, if a spot doesn’t make a first down, then it stands wherever it’s spotted. That doesn’t make sense to me. What if the officials get the yard line confused and (miss) it by five yards? Or maybe misses it by 10? Just getting in the right spot, it is reviewable.
“He misses it by five yards and then, but it’s not a first down, and then they would change it and get it correct for two yards?”
“It was misspotted. Say the official gets confused and thought it went out on the sideline at the 35 and it went out at the 30, do you review that, even though it doesn’t make a first down, is that something that can be challenged? My understanding of the reviews and the rules system is that you get the correct spot. It’d be interesting to see what the explanation is.”
That’s quite the soliloquy, following a one-sided win and at the start of a rivalry-week game against Michigan State.