Conference USA official suspended for instant replay mistake

Monday, September 25th 2006, 9:54 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Conference USA suspended an instant replay official on Monday who overturned a fumble by Houston's Jeron Harvey in the second quarter of the Cougars' victory over Oklahoma State this weekend.

Following a challenge by Houston coach Art Briles, the replay official ruled that Harvey's forward progress had been stopped before the ball was stripped by Oklahoma State's Rodrick Johnson and recovered by the Cowboys.

Four plays later, Houston scored on a 27-yard pass from Kevin Kolb to Vincent Marshall to take a 24-17 halftime lead. Houston won 34-25.

The conference said in a news release that the play should not have been subject to review because ``a runner's forward progress may only be reviewed to determine whether or not the forward progress results in a first down.''

Further, the conference said the ruling on the field was correct. The suspended official was not identified.

``When we implemented instant replay, our goal was to get more calls right, which we have,'' conference commissioner Britton Banowsky said in the release. ``In this case, by rule, the call on the field should not have been reviewed, for which the instant replay official will be suspended.''

The conference did not give details on the official's suspension, citing conference policy.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said the mistake just highlighted problems with replay.

``I don't like instant replay because I just don't think we'll ever clean it up,'' Gundy said after the Cowboys' practice on Monday. ``I'd just as soon go with the ruling on the field and live with it like we have in football for 100 years.''

The call came one week after a Pacific-10 Conference crew incorrectly awarded Oregon possession on an onside kick it had illegally touched late in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma. The Ducks went on to score the winning touchdown in a 34-33 win.

This time, the call came before halftime.

``That's not why we lost the game,'' Gundy said. ``We couldn't stop them and we turned the ball over late. That's why we lost the game.''

After others on the Oklahoma State sideline alerted him of the situation, Gundy said he told the officials on the field that the play was not subject to review.

``My only concerning issue is when we're on the field reminding them this is not something that's reviewable and their response is, `Well, the guy in the booth has the last say,''' Gundy said.

Gundy said he wouldn't necessarily support a system in nonconference games where officials on the field were from one conference and replay officials came the other team's conference, nor did he have an opinion on an unaffiliated replay crew for all games.

He said he thinks the system ``puts a lot of pressure on the officials.''

``I think if you're unaware of the rules and you're in a situation where you make the final decision, you could be from Mars and I don't think it would matter,'' Gundy said.

Gundy said he didn't know if there was a way to fix instant replay.

``The last thing I worry about is how they're going to clean up instant replay, and I'm not trying to be sarcastic,'' Gundy said. ``I just think it's got a long ways to go. The last thing I'll say about it is if we have a review and we have rules in place to make it right and then we make it wrong twice in obviously two big games, then it's not working, right?''