WAC officials reviewing disputed call

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
— The Western Athletic Conference’s supervisor of officials is reviewing a disputed call in the University of Wisconsin’s 13-10 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.

However, that review is part of the standard evaluation process that is done every week, according to Karl Benson, commissioner of the WAC.

“He is reviewing the call but in the same context that he is reviewing all the officials that we had out there over the weekend,” Benson said Tuesday. “At this juncture, we have yet to determine whether it was a good call or a bad call.”

The call, one that has left many Badgers fans outraged, occurred late in the third quarter with Wisconsin leading 13-7.

On first and 10 from the Fresno State 19, Bulldog quarterback Tom Brandstater threw underneath to wide receiver Devon Wylie. Wylie appeared to make the reception and begin turning up the field when he was hit by free safety Shane Carter.

The ball came loose and linebacker DeAndre Levy fell it for an apparent fumble recovery.

Fresno State coach Pat Hill challenged the call on the field, and the replay official overturned it and ruled the play an incompletion.

The Bulldogs then drove to the UW 16 before settling for a field goal that cut the deficit to 13-10.

“The replay official did make it very clear in his post-game report that he believed the runner did not have possession of the ball,” Benson said.

According to Benson, the league’s normal weekly review process generally concludes each Wednesday when a conference call is held involving the supervisor of officials, the referees and replay officials assigned to the respective crews.

The WAC has previously acknowledged incorrect calls and suspended officials, Benson said, but generally only when calls had a direct impact on the outcome of a game.

“All officials are held accountable,” he said. “All their calls, both the on-field and the replay officials, are evaluated after each game.

“All calls are graded. Incorrect calls are marked down. Each official is graded at the end of the season, and those grades are used to determine whether they have post-season assignments.

“And ultimately those grades are used to determine whether an official is retained for the following year.”

UW coach Bret Bielema, both after the game and again Monday during his weekly news conference, has declined to criticize the replay official.

“It gets down to the officials and the things they see on the field,” he said. “Obviously, as a Wisconsin fan, as a Wisconsin coach, anybody that has a ’W’ on their heart, they felt that that was one that should have stayed with the ruling on the field.

“But the officials, you got to trust what they say and what they do, and that went upstairs.”

Some UW fans have used the Internet to suggest that UW boycott Fresno State and all WAC teams. Some have called for a public apology and the firing of the replay official.

“I started getting e-mails a minute after the call on Saturday night,” said Benson, who appreciates the passion of all fans.

Benson added that after last season, the WAC, Mountain West and Big 12 joined together to form two mixed officiating crews to work games involving teams from those leagues.

After those crews were formed, the remaining officials from the WAC and Mountain West were pooled to form five combined crews.

The goal is to remove the perception that one crew might favor a particular team based on league affiliation.

The crew that worked the UW-Fresno State game was a mix of WAC and Mountain West officials, with the referee and replay official being veterans of the WAC.

“Obviously the replay official saw something Saturday night that led him to reverse the call,” Benson said. “He just didn’t flip a coin up there and decide to overturn the call.

“He also knew, based on the status of the game, that it was going to be a very, very important call he had to make.

“Again, he had to have had evidence that led him to make that decision.”

Last updated: 10:10 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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