TEMPE, Ariz. The Pacific-12 Conference has reprimanded the officials in Saturday's Wisconsin-Arizona State game for their actions in the bizarre closing seconds.
The Pac-12 said the officials did not act with enough urgency or properly handle the end-of-game situation when Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave awkwardly took a knee and the clock ran out on the Badgers in the ensuing confusion.
"This was an unusual situation to end the game," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement Monday. "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."
The strange finish came after Wisconsin, trailing 32-30, drove to the 13-yard line with 18 seconds left. Hoping to set up a winning field goal, Stave ran left and tried to take a knee in the middle of the field.
He clipped one of his offensive linemen while trying to go down and plopped the ball onto the yard marker before hopping up quickly.
Players on both teams were confused by the play, and the Sun Devils dived on the ball, thinking it was a fumble. Wisconsin lost precious seconds while Arizona State's players were pulled off and a few more when one official held the Badgers at the line of scrimmage before allowing them to snap the ball.
Wisconsin tried to get off a play so it could spike the ball but ran out of time.
The Pac-12 said neither the referee nor anyone on his crew moved with appropriate urgency to communicate clearly that the ball was to be spotted so play could resume promptly.
"It doesn't change the outcome obviously and, like I said earlier, I don't expect that," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. "But it's accountability, and at the end of the day, that's what we asked for."
One aspect of the play that seemed to throw everyone off was Stave planting the ball on the field and backing away. One Wisconsin player started to lunge toward the ball after seeing it on the ground, and Arizona State's players converged on it as their coaches yelled from the sideline that it was a fumble.
Andersen said Stave did what he was taught to do.
"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," Andersen said. "The officials, wherever they were ... they weren't there to turn around and get the ball."
Arizona State coach Todd Graham initially was fooled by Stave's quick kneel-down, believing his knee never hit the ground the reason he and his staff were yelling at their players to cover the ball.
After watching the play on film, Graham saw that Stave's knee did hit the ground and the way he went down seemed to confuse everyone.
Asked about the final sequence, NCAA President Mark Emmert said his organization gets involved only if there seems to be a systemic problem and not just one blown call.
Oklahoma State The school has appointed former NCAA enforcement officer Charles E. Smrt to lead an independent investigation into alleged misconduct in the football program.
The alleged violations reported by Sports Illustrated last week occurred between 2001 and 2010. Among the potential NCAA violations mentioned in the report were cash payments to players from boosters and assistant coaches, and sham jobs for which players were paid.