If referee Jeff Maconaghy hasn’t seen an optometrist in a while, he might want to make an appointment sooner rather than later – at least if the incorrect ruling of a first down during Tuesday’s Outback Bowl is an accurate indication of the state of his vision.
After Michigan elected to go for it on 4th-and-4 in their own territory while leading 22–21 in the fourth quarter, the chains were brought out to measure the close play. The ball was clearly short of the marker, but Maconaghy inexplicably signaled a first down.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and some Gamecocks player implored Maconaghy to take a closer look, which he did. Yet even after that, the referee did not change his mind.
Thankfully, justice was done on the next play when DE Jadeveon Clowney savagely jarred the ball loose from Michigan RB Vincent Smith and recovered, giving South Carolina possession of the ball it should have had to begin with.
So perhaps we should be thanking Maconaghy for his faux pas, otherwise we might not have witnessed the Hit of the Year.