Mike Lantry, 1972
So, I was confused as the rest of you when Brandon Minor's apparently incomplete pass was ruled a Touchdown after a video review. I bought the ESPN commentary during the play, but thought I'd look into it more. The article mentioned by Bryan does look at the Rule Book, but only at one part. I decided to kill way to much time and read the whole thing.
I'll start with my conclusion, to spare you the reading: Minor's catch was in fact a Touchdown. Now, to the evidence.
We start with the basics (all quotes are from the NCAA Rulebook, downloadable in PDF here http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=387):
"Field of Play
ARTICLE 2. The field of play is the area within the boundary lines other
than the end zones.
ARTICLE 3. The end zones are the 10-yard areas at both ends of the field
between the end lines and the goal lines. The goal lines and goal line pylons
are in the end zone, and a team’s end zone is the one it is defending (A.R.
8-5-1-X and A.R. 8-6-1-I)."
Based on this rather simple explanation, we come to the understanding that the End Zones are special areas on the Field considered separate from the rest of the Field of Play. Additionally, the pylons on the goal lines are in the end zone.
Now, let's take a look at passing:
"ARTICLE 6. Any forward pass is completed when caught by a player of the
passing team who is inbounds, and the ball continues in play unless completed
in the opponent’s end zone or the pass has been caught simultaneously
by opposing players. If a forward pass is caught simultaneously by opposing
players inbounds, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing team (Rule
2-2-7) (A.R. 2-2-7-III and A.R. 7-3-6-I-IX)."
This rule specifically makes a difference between catches in the end zone and catches in the rest of the field of play. Minor was inbounds when he caught the ball, having left the ground from the Field of Play; when he landed out of bounds, the play was already over, because he touched the end zone first.
"ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by
rule or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is
incomplete when a player leaves his feet and receives the pass but first lands on
or outside a boundary line, unless his progress has been stopped in the field of
play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-2-7-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I)."
Further evidence: the ball was firmly in control by Brandon Minor; his progress was stopped when he hit the goal line pylon; the goal line pylon is considered part of the end zone. Thusly, Brandon Minor scored a Touchdown to confuse us all.
This makes sense, right?