STILLWATER — The head of Big 12 football officials called Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy to apologize for a botched call on the decisive touchdown in OSU’s 41-36 loss to Texas Saturday night, two OSU sources told The Oklahoman.
Walt Anderson “apologized profusely” while admitting to Gundy that UT running back Joe Bergeron did indeed fumble before crossing the goal line and the touchdown call on the field was incorrect, one source said.
The source said Anderson told Gundy the call was botched by head linesman Brad Edwards, who signaled touchdown too soon without a proper view of the ball, which was fumbled before it broke the plane of the end zone. Edwards was originally positioned on the goal line on the UT sideline, then sprinted toward the pile and put his arms in the air. A second source added umpire Scott Teifer, who was watching the play from the end zone, also did not communicate properly with Edwards by telling him the ball was on the ground before it crossed the goal line.
Big 12 Associate Commissioner-Communications Bob Burda said in an email Wednesday evening that per the conference’s officiating program protocol, dialogue regularly occurs between coaches/administrators and conference staff. But the conference used its official Twitter account to refute that it acknowledged a blown call and issued an apology to OSU.
An OSU spokesman said Wednesday evening that athletic director Mike Holder was not aware an apology had been made, but could not confirm if Holder and Gundy had seen or spoken to each other that day.
On second-and-goal from the 2 with less than a minute to play, Bergeron charged toward the end zone, and the ball was knocked free by the helmet of OSU linebacker Alex Elkins. OSU safety Daytawion Lowe then surged into the pile near the goal line and emerged with the football. Lowe sat on the turf pleading his case to Teifer as Edwards ran toward the pile and signaled touchdown.
The call of touchdown was reviewed by the replay booth, and confirmed.
Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating in the NFL and current Fox rules analyst, said during the game broadcast that because officials ruled the play a touchdown, an OSU player would have needed to clearly recover the ball before the scrum for the call to be overturned by replay.
Additionally, a Big 12 source told The Oklahoman that conference officials determined Sunday that the original replay decision was correct, that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the touchdown.
An officiating source explained that a runner ruled to have scored a touchdown is covered by the same rule as a runner called down in the middle of the field. Even if replay shows that the fumble occurred before the touchdown or before the runner is down, there must be “clear recovery in an immediate, continuing action … once the ball gets lost in the pile, clear goes away.”
Following the game, Gundy said he could not see the play from his vantage point on the sideline, but that Lowe was adamant he had recovered the ball.
But by Sunday, the coach’s tune had changed, after reviewing that play from several angles on film.
Gundy added he expected to receive a full explanation of the play and call from the Big 12 sometime this week.
OSU’s only media availability this week was Tuesday after practice, meaning Gundy was unavailable for comment Wednesday. But Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops met with reporters Wednesday evening and said he “absolutely” believed the conference’s officials should issue an apology if a critical mistake is made. Stoops, of course, was on the wrong end of a blown call on an onside kick when the Sooners lost at Oregon in 2006, and received an apology from the Pac-10.
“We're all in a big-boy world,” Stoops said. “We have to answer to everything we do. Players do. Even my college kids do. Why wouldn't professionals?
“Listen, I think our officials do an awesome job, so I'm not commenting on that. But in the end, everybody's human, everyone's going to make a mistake here and there. I believe our officials are awesome and nothing would ever be intentional. It's just, a judgment call sometimes, it's tough. Some of those decisions aren't very easy.”
Stoops also praised Anderson, calling him an “absolute professional.”
“He does communicate with us incredibly well,” Stoops said. “Keeps his guys accountable. You get reports back from him immediately if you have a question about something. I agree, he does an incredible job.
“I have been very happy and pleased with the officiating in our league. I'm not just brown-nosing. I really do believe he's continued to coach them very well."
The loss to the Longhorns dropped OSU to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in Big 12 play. The Cowboys are off this week before traveling to Kansas on Oct. 13.
Staff Writer John Helsley contributed to this report.