Pac-10 Suspends Refs for a Game
The Pacific 10 Conference issued one-game suspensions Monday to the field officials and instant replay crew who worked Saturday’s game in Eugene between Oklahoma and Oregon.
Oregon won, 34-33, but the result will be tainted by controversy.
“Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, Coach Bob Stoops and his players,” Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said in a statement. “They played an outstanding college football game, as did Oregon, and it is regrettable that the outcome of the contest was affected by the officiating.”
Trailing by six points with 1:12 left, Oregon was ruled to have recovered an onside kick that appeared to touch a Ducks player before traveling the required 10 yards.
Field officials ruled it was Oregon’s ball and their decision was upheld after an instant replay review.
Oregon scored the game-winning touchdown with 46 seconds left.
The Pac-10 stated the decision on the onside kick was wrong and that “the ball accordingly should have been awarded to Oklahoma at the spot of touching.”
The conference also confirmed that, on the same play, an Oklahoma player actually recovered the ball. The Pac-10 said that aspect of the play, however, could not be reviewed according to instant replay rules.
Stoops said Monday the actions of the Pac-10 officials were “absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable” but acknowledged that conference officials had “reacted to it and tried,” adding, “truly there can be no amends to it and it can’t be corrected.”
An advocate of instant replay, Stoops said officials had a chance to review the play and make the right call. “They chose not to” he said. “You determine whether a one-game suspension is appropriate for those individuals.”
Hansen said not all of the officials were at fault but “the entire crew bears responsibility for every play.”
Suspended were instant replay officials Gordon Riese and Roger Judd, both retired field officials, along with referee David Cutaia, umpire Dennis Angel, linesman Dan Antonietti, line judge Manuel Alonzo, back judge Steve Hudson, field judge Dan Spriesterbach and side judge David Curschman.
Hansen said their work in future games would “be closely monitored.”
Riese and Judd are Oregon residents. “We generally don’t travel our replay officials, nor do other conferences,” Pac-10 associate commissioner Jim Muldoon said.
This wasn’t the first time Riese has been involved in controversy. On Nov. 20, 1982, he was the line judge when California defeated Stanford on arguably the most controversial finish in college football history. Cal won the game on a crazy kickoff return that ended with Kevin Moen scoring the winning touchdown before crashing into Stanford band trombonist Gary Tyrrell.
In 2002, Riese told the San Jose Mercury News he wasn’t in position to call an illegal forward lateral -- Mariet Ford to Moen -- because he had been run over by the on-rushing Stanford band.
Riese said he has received menacing phone calls and a death threat over Saturday’s game, adding he would make a decision soon about whether to finish the season, or even whether to return next year.
While not as controversial as “The Play,” Saturday’s Oklahoma-Oregon ending prompted Oklahoma President David Boren on Monday to send the Big 12 Conference office a letter stating Oregon’s victory should be stricken from the record books.
Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg responded with a statement saying, in part, “There is no provision under NCAA or conference rules for a game result to be reversed or changed as a result of officiating errors, nor do I believe there should be.”
After the Pac-10 announced its suspensions, Boren issued a second statement saying, “I appreciate the apology issued by the Pac-10 Commissioner and his actions in penalizing the game officials.”
The Pac-10 has long used its own officials in nonconference home games and, in road games, accepts the officiating crew of the opposing team’s conference.
Stoops said despite what happened Saturday he remains an instant-replay proponent. “It’s still better than not having it at all,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.