Pac-12 Suspends Ref for 'Error in Officiating' on Penalty During WSU vs. Cal

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2019

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09:  Christopher Brown Jr. #34 of the California Golden Bears gets away from Skyler Thomas #25 of the Washington State Cougars to run in for a touchdown at California Memorial Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Pac-12 has acknowledged officials made an incorrect call in Saturday's game between Washington State and California.

The referee from the game has been suspended one game while the remaining officials were "downgraded."

California earned a 33-20 win over Washington State, but the team benefitted from a missed called on a kickoff in the third quarter. The Cougars were flagged for illegal hands to the face on the return, when the infraction was really against the Bears.

The type of penalty was correct, but the "mechanics and communication were incorrect."

The misapplied penalty was significant, as it wiped out a major return by Travell Harris. If assessed correctly, Washington State would have had the ball on the opposing 35-yard line instead of their own 8-yard line, a difference of 57 yards.

The Cougars were at least able to salvage a field goal from the drive after traveling 74 yards on 13 plays, cutting a nine-point deficit to 20-14 in the third quarter.

It's impossible to know how the change might have affected the outcome, but the officials were rightfully disciplined for their mistake.

Meanwhile, Washington State head coach Mike Leach was more upset at his players after the game than the officials.

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In a postgame interview with Washington State IMG Sports Network, Leach referred to his team leaders as "frauds" and said his team is "not very tough," per Barry Bolton of 247Sports.

The loss was the Cougars' fifth in the last six games to fall to 4-5.