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Conference USA officials admit they made mistake


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League tells Hawkeyes: Call was wrong


Conference USA acknowledges its officials made an incorrect call on an onside kick near the end of the Outback Bowl


Controversial officiating in the Outback and Alamo bowls, as well complaints from angry Iowans, has prompted the NCAA to agree to discuss how game officials are selected and evaluated.


Meanwhile, the coordinator of Conference USA officials admitted that representatives of his conference made an incorrect call Monday on an end-of-game onside kick in Florida's 31-24 Outback victory against Iowa.


The Outback Bowl featured a number of controversial calls, including an offside penalty on the onside kick the Hawkeyes recovered with just more than one minute remaining. Television replays seemed to show that no Iowa player was offside on the play.


Gerald Austin, coordinator of Conference USA officials, released a statement after being called by The Des Moines Register on Tuesday.


"Out of approximately 175 plays in this game, we have five under specific review ? including an important call at the end of the game. We do teach our officials that toward the end of the game, the calls should clearly be a foul. In this case, the onside kickoff call was too technical and should not have been made."


Dennis Poppe, managing director for NCAA football, said he personally received "a couple hundred" e-mails in the 24 hours after Iowa fell to Florida.


Poppe said the topic of officiating crew selection and evaluation will be part of spring meetings.


"It will be on the agenda," he said.


University of Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby said there is no recourse for his university at this point, but he said he believes the Outback and Alamo controversies should prompt a review of the procedures.


"When you see a crew that was obviously over their head in our game and obviously over their head in Michigan-Nebraska game, it will stimulate a lot of discussion," Bowlsby said.


"Take an officiating crew from the Sun Belt Conference. If those guys were as good as the guys we have working in our league, they would be working in our league."


National television announcers heavily criticized Conference USA officiating in the Outback Bowl, as well as Sun Belt Conference officials' handling of the Alamo Bowl between Nebraska and Michigan.


In the Alamo Bowl, ESPN's Mike Tirico railed at the officiating as Nebraska rallied to stun the Wolverines, 32-28, on Dec. 28.


The final play of that game included a multi-lateral play in which Michigan continued to run toward the goal line for a potential winning touchdown even though players, media and others had wandered onto the field. Many questioned why a penalty wasn't called on the wild, final play.


Poppe said that NCAA crew selection and protocol have been consistent for years, but that the Outback and Alamo bowl games will create a new discussion about the process.


"It's something that hasn't been an issue, until this year," Poppe said.


How officiating crews are selected for bowl games, according to Poppe:


? The NCAA determines which conferences will provide crews for each bowl game, ensuring neutrality by making sure the crews do not represent one of the participating teams.


? Individual conferences determine the members of the crew.


"The conferences pick those crews," Poppe said. "The thinking is they're putting their best crew out there, however they determine their best crew."


Outback Bowl representative Mike Schulze said his bowl has not received this much response related to game calls in his 17 years with the bowl.


"From an officiating standpoint, no," Schulze said.


Derrick Fox, president and CEO of the Alamo Bowl, said this is the first time in his 13 years with that game that there was a significant issue with officials.


Fox and bowl officials directed fans on their Web site to the Sun Belt Conference. Fox confirmed that Outback Bowl officials asked for a copy of the Alamo's press release after that game to deal with the high volume of fan response.


"One of the things we need to address, moving forward, is to talk about how bowl officials can file a report or evaluation," Fox said.


"That doesn't exist right now. One of the things we've asked, we want to submit a report following our game to report on the officials and those types of things."


Fox said discussions need to be measured and well thought out, rather than knee-jerk.


"Just because a crew from a conference had a bad game doesn't mean every crew from that conference will have bad games," Fox said. "Guilt by association isn't really fair, in that sense."


Fox acknowledged that fan reaction for the Alamo Bowl has been draining.


"Absolutely," Fox said. "We had the most-watched bowl game in ESPN history, but it's kind of like, ?How about the game? It was a great game wasn't it?? ?



I'm already over it and everything... but its good they admit they made a mistake instead of condoning that crap. Hopefully this means that bowl games with BCS conferences teams involved only use officials from the major conferences from now on. The angry Iowans part cracked me up.

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Guest Juanky

These games mean a lot to recruiting and team pride. Instead of 15 teams in the country ending with a loss and one with a National Title, half of the bowl teams get to end the season (and the seniors' careers) with a W. Not saying I wouldn't prefer a playoff, but to say bowls mean nothing isn't accurate.

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