Big 12 News

NBC Rules Analyst Terry McAulay Explains Why Big 12 Refs Got It Wrong on Caleb Williams Play

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at West Virginia

Oklahoma went to KU as a 38-point favorite, but this game ended up being one of the most exciting games of the weekend in college football. It also ended in controversy. On fourth down late in the game, Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams handed it off to Kennedy Brooks, who was not going to get the first down, when Williams pulled the ball out of Brooks’ hands and converted the first down on his own. OU would go on to win the game 35-23 after OU scored a touchdown which sealed the victory.

If you haven’t seen the video of the play, here it is.


Well, there was a ton of confusion as to whether or not that was a legal play. Ultimately, the Big 12 refs said it was legal, and a couple plays later, Oklahoma punched in a touchdown that sealed the victory for OU. After the game, the conference made a statement confirming it was a legal play.

Big 12 coordinator of football officials Greg Burk said about the review and the decision:

“The reviewable aspects of the play were position of the ball in relation to the line of scrimmage and if possession was ever lost by the offense. The ball never crossed the line of scrimmage and there was never a loss of possession, not a fumble, so this play was a forward hand-off behind the line of scrimmage.

The action is allowed under rule 7-6-a which states, “A Team A back may hand the ball forward to another back only if both are behind their line of scrimmage and the player handing the ball forward has not had their entire body beyond the neutral zone.”

However, NBC Sunday Night Football rules analyst Terry McAulay disagreed with the Big 12 for several reasons.


As you’ll see in his Twitter thread, first he thought it should have been a dead play before the hand off. But he also disagrees on the interpretation of the “hand off” itself.

Here’s his thread.

McAulay’s point on the play being dead is the best and most obvious point made, and one I would agree with. The interpretation of a hand off is hard to decipher and likely too hard to review and overturn.

He then went on to rip the Big 12 for not even addressing the play being dead.

But regardless, even if it was a turnover on downs, there was no guarantee Kansas was going to score. However, KU did deserve a chance to try, which never ended up happening.

To Top