Huskies expect Sooners to show up

  • By Mike Allende / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, September 19, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – Washington athletic director Todd Turner said he has received no indication that Oklahoma would pull out of its 2008 game at Husky Stadium despite the fact that Sooners coach Bob Stoops said that was a possibility during a Tuesday press conference.

“It’s not an issue right now,” Turner said. “As far as I know, we have a contract with Oklahoma and they’ll be here in 2008. We’re scheduled to have Pac-10 officials and until I’m told differently or Oklahoma officially calls and says that’s unacceptable, that’s what we’re counting on.”

Stoops told reporters Tuesday that his team would consider canceling its game at Washington if the Pac-10 did not change its rule requiring Pac-10 officials be used in all of its home stadiums for every game.

Stoops’ concern comes in the wake of his team’s controversial 34-33 loss to Oregon in Eugene on Saturday. On Monday, the Pac-10 admitted that the field officials and the replay officials made two mistakes during an onside kick, calls that favored Oregon as the Ducks rallied for a win in the final four minutes. As a result, the league suspended the officials for one game and formally apologized to Oklahoma. The same officials also appeared to make another mistake late in the game on a pass interference call that the Pac-10 did not address.

On Monday, Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter to Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg asking him to pursue having the Pac-10 change its officiating policy, which has been in place for seven years.

The Pac-10 is the only conference in the country with a policy requiring that its own officials be used in Pac-10 stadiums for non-league home games. Every other conference uses officials from the visiting team’s conference, except when Pac-10 teams are the visitors. The Pac-10 doesn’t send its officials out to work non-league road games.

“I think there’s no question that (OU athletic director) Joe Castiglione and I and President Boren, if that rule is not changed, that we may reconsider that game (against Washington), and I think it’s justified,” Stoops said. “We’ll look into that.”

Oklahoma beat Washington 37-20 two weeks ago in Norman.

Turner said he e-mailed Castiglione – whom he says is a longtime friend and received a call back Tuesday afternoon, but Castiglione made no mention that Oklahoma was planning to back out of the game.

“He has not said they’re thinking about not coming,” Turner said. “We talked about that there was a news story out there. He said, ‘I don’t want you to misinterpret it.’ We agreed we had a great rivalry … It’s not an issue for Washington right now. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t continue to play.”

Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said he’s not worried about Oklahoma not coming to Seattle. He said he never noticed an officiating crew showing favoritism, adding that it’s often the opposite. A crew will not favor the conference it’s from in order to show that there is no bias, he said.

Turner did not know the exact repercussions should Oklahoma chose to not play the game, though it would certainly involve money. He also would not comment on the Pac-10 officiating rule, but said the issue is accountability, and the Pac-10 is showing it is accountable by holding the officials responsible for the mistakes.

“People are going to make errors,” Turner said. “If people overreact to that, it’s just that, an overreaction. … Any time there are mistakes, there needs to be corrective action. Some are educations, some are training, maybe they deal with penalties. … It’s a matter of accountability, education and consistency.”

Turner said the issue should not be about the integrity of the officials. Instead, things should be geared toward making sure the procedures for dealing with inevitable errors are strong, he said. Turner added thta he understands Stoops’ frustration, but it is not simply a Pac-10 issue.

“The same thing could happen in Norman with any group of officials,” Turner said. “They’re human beings and they make mistakes on occasion. It’s how we deal with them once they happen. …that’s the important thing.”

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