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. “The fact that the errors on the onside kick altered the outcome of the game is most unfortunate and unsettling,” Hansen said in the statement. “We had a solid veteran crew assigned, and the instant replay official had a fine career as a referee in the Pac-10. We believe in the ability and integrity of each individual involved.” The controversial decisions came in rapid succession after Oregon scored a touchdown to pull within 33-27 with 1:12 left. The Ducks tried an onside kick. By rule, the kicking team may not touch the ball until it has traveled 10 yards, and may not impede the receiving team’s chances to catch the ball before it has traveled 10 yards. Replays showed OU receiver Malcolm Kelly moved forward and tried to field the kick within the 10-yard area. But Oregon’s Brian Paysinger tapped the ball first, then crashed into Kelly. Several players collapsed into a pile trying to recover the loose ball. As they did, replays showed the ball squirting out and OU’s Allen Patrick recovering it, then walking away holding it - even as the officials pulled players from the pile, attempting to determine which team had possession. The officials awarded possession to Oregon, then called for an instant-replay review of whether the ball was improperly touched by an Oregon player. By rule, the replay official was not allowed to review which team recovered the football. After Riese’s review, referee David Cutaia announced “there is conclusive evidence the receiving team touched the ball” and gave Oregon possession near midfield. But in the release, the Pac-10 said its review of game video confirmed an Oregon player touched the ball “before it had traveled the required 10 yards,” and said “the ball should have been awarded to Oklahoma at the spot of touching.” Two plays later, OU safety Darien Williams was penalized for pass interference for hitting Paysinger as he ran a receiving route. But replays showed defensive end C.J. Ah You tipped the pass, making any contact by Williams legal. Riese ruled there was not indisputable video evidence the pass had been tipped, and the penalty was upheld. On the next play, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon connected with Paysinger for 23 yards and the winning touchdown. The Pac-10 did not pass specific judgment on the second decision. And in the statement, Hansen said not all members of the officiating crew were involved in the errors, but “the entire crew bears responsibility for every play.” He said the officials’ work in future games would be closely monitored. In addition to Cutaia, the officiating crew included Dennis Angel, Dan Antonietti, Manuel Alonzo, David Curschman, Daniel Spreisterbach and Steve Hudson. An unnamed assistant replay official was also suspended. Hansen said “the instant replay official is limited to the views of any play which is made available and must make a timely decision.” But he concluded, “on the kickoff play, ample views were available.”
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Notes What you said “Everyone in our office is asking ... what the umpire thinks he saw when he is looking to his left at an Oregon player and then signals that Oregon recovered the kick. At the same time ... Allen Patrick has already stood up holding the ball and hands it to another official. Couldn’t the officials talk to each other about what transpired?” Randy Knight, city “I think I am successfully making my way through the seven stages of grief, although I am struggling through the anger stage. Hopefully by the next game, I will have hit the final stage of acceptance. Man, I hate football sometimes.” Jeff Rosson, city “As a football coach and a football fan, I was utterly dismayed at the outcome of Saturday’s game. I was very disgusted that replay was not used correctly. ... I firmly believe that any official involved in this debacle ought to be fired, effective immediately.” Chris Koehn, Wichita, Kan. “Being a Sooner fan in Texas ... I don’t normally get much sympathy from Longhorn fans when the Sooners lose, but in this case, everybody agrees OU got (robbed). It’s hard to find a football fan outside of Oregon - and even some there - that does not agree the officials blew it.” Scott Ishmael, Edgewood, Texas “I am one of about four OU fans in New Jersey. My brother and I eat, sleep and breathe Sooner football. You have no idea how lonely this is. At least in Oklahoma, you have a zillion people to commiserate with.” Jim Williams, Elizabeth, N.J. “Most of the time when Oklahoma loses, the Hog fans out here give me a hard time. ... However, this week it has been nothing but ‘I can’t believe they took that game away from you guys,” or, “What in the world was the review official looking at?’ Even my father-in-law gave me a hug and said, ‘Y’all were robbed.’” Bryan Broderick, Little Rock, Ark. “The worst part of the outcome is that the team and fans have to suffer (losing a game with a questionable fourth-quarter instant replay call) twice in six games. Something of this magnitude should not happen to a program twice in a lifetime. ... The only true remedy would be a victory over Texas.” Mike Feuerborn, Tulsa “I work with all OSU fans, and they said that we were even (robbed).” Jon Kennedy, Blanchard “The NCAA is producing a product. The product has proven defects. It should be recalled. ... At a minimum, a criminal investigation into tampering with the game outcome should be started since this was an all Pac-10 team doing the booth reviews, and since the errors were so obvious, the appearance of conflict of interest or collusion exists.” Joel Martin, Norman “Whoever was viewing the tapes must be blind. Even the sports analysts on TV and other venues stated the same thing. I am currently on a business trip in Atlanta, and they are also talking about the same thing. If you are going to use tape as a review possibility, do it right.” James D. Manuel, Northlake, Texas “To say the very least, we were robbed. The problem is, there is not a thing they can do about it now. Why have access to instant replay if they are not going to use it in the proper manner?” Kevin Wilmeth, city