Admitting officiating errors “altered the outcome” of Oregon’s 34-33 win over Oklahoma, the Pac-10 Conference announced one-game suspensions Monday for the officiating crew and instant replay officials involved in two controversial decisions in the last 72 seconds.
But the news - and an accompanying apology - brought no satisfaction to University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops, who questioned whether the penalty was severe enough. “At least they have reacted to it and tried,” said Stoops, who was animated and still upset. “Truly, there can be no amends to it, and it can’t be corrected. I’ve made a million mistakes. I’ll make a million more. In each game and in that game included, I wish there were things I could have done differently or changed. “Unlike officials, players and coaches don’t have that opportunity (to correct mistakes). They had an opportunity to get it right, and they chose not to.” In a statement released by the conference, Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen vouched for the “ability and integrity” of the involved officials, but said they “have positions of great responsibility and must be accountable for their actions.” Hansen said replays confirmed what OU officials and fans had been saying since Saturday evening, when replay officials awarded Oregon possession of an onside kick, then upheld a pass interference penalty, paving the way for the Ducks’ rally for the winning touchdown. “Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops and his players,” Hansen said. As fans’ anger boiled, radio talk shows buzzed and homemade videos proliferated on the Internet. And OU President David Boren wasn’t happy, either. Monday afternoon, Boren made public a letter he sent to Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg. Writing that calling the mistakes “an outrageous injustice is an understatement,” Boren requested Weiberg ask the Pac-10 to suspend the responsible officials for the remainder of the season and requested the game not be counted as a win or loss for either team “in light of the level of officiating mistakes.” In response, Weiberg issued a statement Monday afternoon saying he had been in contact with Hansen “beginning Saturday following the game.” Weiberg noted NCAA rules don’t provide for changing the outcome of games because of officiating errors, “nor do I believe there should be.” After the Pac-10 released its findings and penalties, Boren released a statement expressing appreciation for the league’s actions. Jim Muldoon, the Pac-10’s associate commissioner for communications and football administration, declined comment on Boren’s letter. Muldoon also denied interview requests for Pac-10 director of officiating Verle Sorgen and for Gordon Riese, the instant replay official. Riese, a resident of Portland, Ore., who is a retired Pac-10 football official, could not be reached Monday. During a brief telephone conversation Sunday, he declined comment, citing Pac-10 policy, but expressed remorse over “inexcusable” mistakes. Muldoon said Riese, who was identified in an article published Monday in The Oklahoman, had gotten several calls from irate fans.