by Travis Normand
You know that college football is finally back when:
- You are watching Kent State vs. Townson.
- You see Kent State line up to punt the ball away (to Townson) on 4th Down.
- After the punt, Kent State player Andre Parker (on punt coverage) notices the ball graze a Townson player.
- Andre Parker realizes that the ball has been “muffed” by the receiving team (the receiving team touched the ball but did not recover it).
- Andre Parker FAILS to realize that you cannot advance a muffed punt in any direction (and you realize that this is probably why Parker plays for Kent State and that the joke is on you for watching in the first place).
- Despite the rule against advancing (or retreating) a muffed punt, Parker picks up the ball on the Townson 7-yard line and returns it the WRONG WAY! (Parker retreated the ball back to around the Kent State 30-yard line–almost a 60-yard return).
- Finally, the Townson players (the receiving team) end up tackling Parker before he is able to return the ball to his own end zone.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking the same thing I was when I watched this on live TV. As I watched Parker running the wrong way, all I could think was that “any second now a Kent State player is going to tackle his teammate (Parker) to prevent him from running the ball back to his own end zone!”
Fortunately for Kent State, they had Townson there to do the dirty work for them. I was pretty shocked when two Townson players tackled Parker and the first thing out of my mouth was “I can’t believe they didn’t let him run it back!?”
I was so confused. I was confused by what Parker had done, by what Townson had done, and by what the refs failed to do. When Kent State recovered the fumble (muffed punt) at the 7-yard line the play should have been over. The moment Parker possessed the ball the refs should have ended the play–but they didn’t.
The truth is, the refs simply got confused (after all, it was a long off-season and they get rusty too). Their confusion fed Parker’s mistake and Parker’s mistake confused the Townson players thus causing them to tackle a player they shouldn’t have.
In the end, all of this led to me second-guessing myself as to what the rules of NCAA football are. I’m pretty sure I got it all straightened out, but if I don’t … who cares!? College Football is Back!!!!!!
[**Note: The retreating of the ball was reviewed and nullified. The ball was returned to the Townson 7-yard line–where it should have been “dead” when Parker recovered it. Kent State won the game, 41-21.]