With a Miami-Ohio State rematch, the infamous “pass interference” in overtime was bound to come up. Let’s get it out of the way before the game starts. There are two ways to come down on this. You think it was a terrible call, or you are an Ohio State fan. I believe the former. Miami had another chance to win, but it should never have come to that. Though, you can’t call the win tainted. They had to play with the same officials.
The issue is what was called, pass interference, not what could have been called (defensive holding or an incidental facemask). By rule, a defender cannot impede the receiver from the time the ball is thrown until someone touches it.
Gamble clearly touches the ball before Sharpe hits him in the end zone, ruling out that contact as a penalty. That leaves the initial contact at the line of scrimmage. For it to be “pass interference” there has to have been a “pass.” Sharpe bumps him initially, but the contact was not illegal. The pass was not yet in the air. Krenzel hadn’t thrown the ball.
Yes, the official who made the call was vindicated by his supervisors. What were they going to do months after the fact? Announce that the call was wrong? Award Miami a win? Take a revote for the national title? That wasn’t happening. Miami got hosed, though the current critics of the playoff would support that. It’s okay if something is unjust and stupid as long as we discuss it being unjust and stupid, right fellas?
Generally, I opt for the simplest explanation. The official was either an officiating savant who, despite not having the best position to see it, noticed an obscure transgression at the line of scrimmage, and waited until seconds after the play was over to throw the flag. Or, he just missed a pass interference call in the heat of the moment. It was probably the latter.
Even had either transgression occurred, Gamble was not impeded from catching the ball. Neither should have been called on 4th down in overtime of a national championship game.