It was a play that might’ve cost UGA the 2017 national championship.
And Dan Capron, who is retiring as a longtime Big Ten referee, admitted that his crew blew the big call that helped Alabama rally to defeat UGA for the national title, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein.
Flashback: The Bulldogs were ahead 13-0 in the third quarter when Simmons blocked a punt deep in Alabama territory that might’ve put the game way. However, Simmons was penalized for offsides, despite the fact that TV replays showed that Simmons clearly was not offsides – he timed the snap perfectly. (See video at bottom of page)
Here’s this weekend’s confession by Capron, the head referee for that infamous game:
“We had a miss. Alabama was on the ropes. They were deep in their own territory and they’re punting. The punt gets blocked. There’s a flag on the ground because the line judge had Georgia offside. Oh, boy. He (the player, Tyler Simmons) actually had a running start and timed it (properly). He wasn’t offside.”
Props to Capron for owning up to his crew’s mistake, years later. Even more surprising/disturbing for Bulldog fans, Capron has yet another confession from the same game:
“But that (the Simmons’ mistake) wasn’t my call. The blocking backs, a split-second before the snap, moved. That was a false start. That should have been my call. It still wouldn’t have been a blocked punt but instead a five-yard penalty against the offense.
“You never want to make a mistake of any kind in such a high-profile atmosphere.”
The Simmons penalty upset so many UGA fans (and obviously now, rightly so) that the blown call became a meme, and even t-shirts were made. Simmons would’ve likely have transformed into a Georgia football legend for the clutch play had the right call been made, and had UGA gone on to win.
The surprise admission won’t force Alabama to surrender the 2017 trophy to Georgia, but perhaps it will allow some Bulldog fans to move forward.
Thoughts? Please post below.