It was wrong call, an official admits
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
After further review, referees at the Outback Bowl made the wrong call at the end of Florida's 31-24 win Monday over Iowa in Tampa.
Gerald Austin, the head of officiating for Conference USA, whose referees officiated the game, said officials made a mistake when Iowa's Chad Greenway was flagged for being offside on an onside kick late in the game.
"We do teach our officials that toward the end of the game, the calls should clearly be a foul," Austin said in a statement released by the conference Wednesday. "In this case, the onside kickoff call was too technical and should not have been made."
Iowa's Scott Chandler recovered the onside kick on the play in question. It would have given the Hawkeyes the ball trailing 31-24 with just over a minute remaining.
However, the penalty forced Iowa to kick again. Florida recovered the second onside kick to seal the win.
Gators coach Urban Meyer was out of his office Wednesday and unavailable for comment. In his news conference following the Outback Bowl, Meyer said of the call: "I hope they were offsides. To make a call like that one. ... Boy, that was a tough call."
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley acknowledged the statement made by the C-USA coordinator of officials Wednesday by saying, "Errors in officiating occur in all sports at all levels. The University of Florida has certainly been on both sides of this conversation as most teams have."
Florida fans can recall two games in recent seasons when the Gators were on the wrong side of questionable calls - a 30-28 defeat at Tennessee in 2004 and a 38-34 loss to visiting Florida State in 2003.
Tennessee's game-winning field goal was set up by an unsportsmanlike penalty on Dallas Baker while the Florida State loss featured several questionable fumble calls.
The offside penalty at the Outback Bowl isn't the only questionable call C-USA officials are looking at from the game. Austin said four other calls in the game are under review. Conference USA officials couldn't say which ones were under review or if those calls had gone for or against Florida.
"Out of approximately 175 plays in this game, we have five under specific review," Austin said.
The Outback Bowl wasn't the only bowl game this year with an officiating controversy. The Alamo Bowl also featured a questionable ending when Nebraska's team stormed the field before the final play of the game was completed.
NCAA football managing director Dennis Poppe told the Des Moines Register that the officiating in the Outback and Alamo bowls will force the NCAA to review its crew selection for bowl games. The issue will be discussed during the NCAA's spring meetings.
The NCAA picks which conferences will provide officials for bowl games to ensure neutrality.
You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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