It really hasn’t been a banner year for football officials, even at the highest levels, but few mistakes are as egregious as the one that took place during Saturday’s Washington State - Cal contest.
In that game, Washington State’s Travell Harris saw a big return called back after the Cougars were whistled for an illegal hands to the face penalty. The penalty was assessed to No. 15 for the receiving team. But, as a statement from the Pac-12 Conference admits, the penalty should have been assessed to No. 15 on the kicking team. The refs flagged the wrong team, resulting in a 57-yard swing.
While officials wound up recognizing and acknowledging the mistake to Washington State’s sideline just a mere play later, by then it was too late. The play could not be overturned.
As a result, the conference suspended the referee for one game “for the breakdown in officiating mechanics and communication.” Meanwhile, the other members of the officiating crew were “downgraded.”
The Cougar drive ended in a field goal, but Washington State would go on to lose the game 33-20.