UCF-Houston: Knights Win off the Worst, Dumbest Rule in Football


Congratulations UCF Knights fans. Celebrate your lucky, undeserved win Thursday night against Houston. You won not because your defense made a great play at the end of the game. You won because Houston quarterback Greg Ward was a victim of the worst, dumbest, stupidest, most pathetic, least sense-making, (insert the most negative adjective you can think of here) rule in all of football.

In case you were wondering, the UCF-Houston game might have been the most anti-climactic game in football this year.

With less than half a minute to go and 1st and goal from the UCF 20, Houston was down 17-12 when Ward dropped back to throw and scrambled. Nearly being forced out of bounds at the two, he dove for the pylon, but as he was reaching he lost control of the football and it went out of bounds. Had it gone out of bounds one yards shorter of where it did, Houston would have had the ball inside the 5-yard line with 24 seconds to go. But because it was a yard further, UCF gets the ball since it’s a touchback, despite the fact that they never recovered the fumble.

Who in world history had the brilliant idea that fumbling the ball out of the end zone should automatically mean a turnover and a touchback? Did the defense recover the fumble? No. If you fumble the ball out of bounds anywhere else on the field, does the ball go to the defense? No. Does anybody on the defense pick up a fumble recovery stat if the ball is fumbled out of the back of the end zone? No.

But somehow, it was logically determined that if you fumble the ball out of bounds in the other team’s end zone it’s a turnover. Seriously, did the person who came up with this rule give Hitler the idea to invade Russia? It is the height of stupidity.

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  • A staple in football is that even if the offense fumbles the ball, the defense has to recover it. That shouldn’t change just because the defense had allowed the offense to get near the goal line when the fumble happened. If we are going by technicality, it would make more sense to award a touchdown to the offense. But that doesn’t make sense either, so there’s a simple solution: give the ball back to the offense at the spot where it was initially fumbled.

    I don’t see why this is so hard. It has already been determined that players can’t advance the ball off of a fumble on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Let’s just make this rule simple: offenses can’t advance a fumble if the ball is past the line of scrimmage. Problem solved. Let’s take away the gimmick of giving the defense the ball when it never recovered the fumble to begin with.

    Worse yet, by doing this it takes away an exciting play in football: diving for the pylon. Unless it’s fourth down or there’s no time on the clock, there is no reason for anybody to do that with this rule. Yes, Ward wasn’t smart for diving right there given the situation.

    It was the same case for Alton “Pig” Howard for Tennessee last year as he dove for the end zone in overtime against Georgia. Because of that technicality, where he fumbled over the pylon, it was a turnover, and Georgia was able to win the game.

    But while those two players made a stupid decision to dive, it’s not as stupid as the rule. The call was the right call, and this is no attack on the refs, who simply did their job in that situation.

    But the rule cost us a great storyline in which a backup quarterback came in for Houston and almost led a great Thursday night game-winning drive. When he failed to do so, it wasn’t because of a defensive stand by UCF. It was because of a gimmicky rule that should not exist.

    What a waste of a game!