Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Ineligible Gate"

I do intend to resurrect this blog as the draft season approaches, but for now I just want to chip in to "ineligible gate" from the Ravens/Pats playoff game.

As amusing as it is watching Harbaugh have a good complain, and as much as the Ravens are guilty of a) not recognising that a tight end was lined up on the left side, which is basically just the same as flipping the strength of a conventional formation to the left, and b) throwing away their lead, they do seem to have a point on the controversial plays.

I unfortunately did not have time to watch the game (though I have since reviewed the plays in question) but my understanding is that Shane Vereen did not report as being ineligible until he was at or near the line of scrimmage, just seconds before the ball was snapped. 

This is a clear violation of the rules on reporting eligibility, which require players to inform the referee immediately if they are intending to play in a manner that alters their eligibility compared to the number on their jersey. The key word is "Immediately" which is generally understood to mean as soon as the player enters the field of play, and at the very latest as soon as the huddle has been broken. 

If you're running to the line of scrimmage having not informed the ref than two things are apparent a) you already know that you are going to be ineligible on the play and b) you have deliberately passed up an opportunity to inform the officials of this fact. That - per Rule 5, Section 3, Article 1 - is a five yard penalty for an illegal substitution. No ifs, no buts. It's a clear penalty, and it's also clear that the Patriots would have known this before hand and tried to sneak one (successfully in this case) past the refs. A bit like their persistent use of illegal "pick" plays.

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