ROSS -- Verle Sorgen, the Pac-10 supervisor of instant replay, says the 1982 Big Game might have ended differently had the rules at the time permitted a video review of The Play.

If nothing else, Cal's game-winning celebration in its 25-20 victory over Stanford might have been put on hold until the replay official in the Memorial Stadium booth confirmed the call on the field.

Sorgen, a longtime college football and USFL official, recently agreed to cue up a tape of the controversial kickoff return of a quarter-century ago and play the role of replay official for the Bay Area News Group, turning his den into a state-of-the-art booth, complete with a big-screen video monitor.

"First you need to understand what we're looking for," Sorgen said. "I need to have 'indisputable video evidence" that the call on the field was not correct.

"What's indisputable? Find 30 guys in a bar. All of them better agree."

Sorgen watched Mark Harmon's short squib kickoff.

"OK, there's a backward pass at 50," he observed. "The second guy (Dwight Garner) ... was he down? Whether his knee was down (before he lateraled the ball) is reviewable. What's not reviewable is whether his forward progress was stopped.

"It's very close. We don't have a close-up. I'm going to say -- guess and say -- no, he was not down."

The tape rolls on.

"They're into Stanford territory," he announced. "Down to the 25. The band is within view. The (lateral) at the 25, that's the one I question.


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"OK, in slow motion ... the pass was released at the 22 and touched at the 201/2. From that, it clearly appears forward. You could very well make a case for reversing it."

Sorgen watches it again.

"He (Mariet Ford) clearly flips his arm backward. But as we all remember from our high school physics classes, the forward momentum of the passing player imparts forward momentum of the ball. By rule, you can clearly say it was a forward pass and therefore illegal."

Seventy-thousand people are screaming. Cal's players are seeking out The Axe. Stanford officials are ready to accept a bowl bid.

We're waiting your ultimate call, Mr. Replay Official ...

"I would be tempted to reverse it," Sorgen claimed, "then go out and get the motor running in my car."

Sorgen thought for a moment about the potential impact of his decision, as if seeing the headline "Replay chief labels greatest play in college football history bogus" flash across his big screen.

"That's all I need," he admitted. "Let's downplay that part."

Alas, Sorgen would be the first to tell you: "Reviews cannot be reviewed."

Contact Dave Del Grande at ddelgrande@bayareanewsgroup.com