Pac-12 reprimands officials

Updated: September 17, 2013, 12:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Pac-12 on Monday reprimanded officials who worked Saturday's game between Arizona State and Wisconsin for their handling of the bizarre finish.

[+] EnlargeWisconsin
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesQuarterback Joel Stave (2) and running back James White were among those looking for answers after Wisconsin's 32-30 loss at Arizona State on Saturday.

A statement released by the conference said commissioner Larry Scott was taking "additional sanctions against officials" for their failure to "properly administer the end of game situation and act with appropriate urgency on the game's final play."

"This was an unusual situation to end the game," Scott said in the statement. "After a thorough review, we have determined that the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed. We will continue to work with all our officials to ensure this type of situation never occurs again."

Trying to set his team up for a winning field goal, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave instead triggered a wave of confusion that lingered long after Arizona State's 32-30 win over the 20th-ranked Badgers.

The final sequence was set up when Wisconsin, after forcing Arizona State to punt, got the ball at its 17-yard line with 1:36 left. Trailing by two, the Badgers quickly moved down the field, reaching the Sun Devils' 13 with 18 seconds left.

Hoping to set up kicker Kyle French in the middle of the field for a potential winning field goal, Wisconsin called for Stave to run left from the right hash mark and take a knee, a play the Badgers had practiced numerous times.

But as Stave went to kneel, he was clipped by one of his linemen and went down a bit awkwardly as he emphatically placed the ball at the 15-yard line. Stave hopped up quickly, and players from both teams stood around for a few seconds, trying to figure out what happened.

Stave checked with the referee to make sure the play was dead, but Arizona State's players piled on the ball, thinking it was a fumble.

"The idea of him putting the ball on the ground is to give the officials the opportunity to get the ball spotted quicker and cleaner," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. "The officials, wherever they were, weren't there to turn around and get the ball. That whole process of Joel looking around behind him, walking back there, 'where am I going to put the ball, how am I going to put the ball,' that takes time, that takes valuable seconds and moments."

Though the Sun Devils thought Stave's knee never hit the ground, replays showed it briefly touching the turf. The officials saw it and pointed to the ground to signal the play was dead. Even after the Sun Devils were pulled off the ball, one of the officials briefly held the Badgers at the line of scrimmage before they could snap the ball, costing them even more time.

"The Pac-12 statement speaks for itself and is consistent with what we observed in the closing moments of the game," Big Ten commissioner James Delany said in a statement Monday. "If properly officiated, the Wisconsin football team would have had an additional down."

After gathering briefly on the field, the officials trotted off past Stave, Andersen and the rest of the stunned Badgers.

"There's a human element to this game," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said Monday. "You win or you lose. We won and let's move on to the next deal. Obviously, that was a very unusual deal."

At his news conference Monday, Andersen said no when asked whether he thought the Pac-12's statement was enough.

"It doesn't change the outcome obviously and, like I said earlier, I don't expect that," the Wisconsin coach said. "But it's accountability and at the end of the day, that's what we asked for."

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, however, was still steaming Monday about what had transpired.

"That's going to bother me for a long time," Alvarez told "The Mike Heller Show" on WTSO-AM in Madison. "I can't wait to see that official again."

Nonconference games typically feature officials from the visiting team's conference, with the Pac-12 being an exception.

NCAA president Mark Emmert, asked about the final sequence Monday, was surprised by the ending but said the NCAA gets involved only if there seems to be a systemic problem and not just one blown call.

"I thought that was a really, really weird ending to the game," Emmert said.

Information from ESPN's Brett McMurphy and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


ALSO SEE