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7/30/2008 10:24 AM
Refs Call Illinois Game Wrong  (United States)
Ohio State football
Big Ten says refs dropped the ball
Apparent fumble vs. Illinois last year needed TV review
Wednesday,  July 30, 2008 3:16 AM

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Big Ten officials said last week that a controversial noncall on a fumble by Illinois against Ohio State last season should have been reviewed, and it appears the referee in charge of that crew likely will not be working conference games this fall.

Early in a game Nov. 10 in Ohio Stadium, Illini running back Daniel Dufrene fumbled at the end of an 80-yard run, at the Ohio State 3-yard line. The ball squirted into the end zone, and it might have been recovered by the Buckeyes.

Side judge Joe Duncan, though, allowed Illinois to keep possession, marking the ball out of bounds.

As Illinois lined up for the next play, ABC showed a replay and commentator Bob Griese said, "There's no doubt the ball came out and it was a fumble."

The Illini scored and went on to a 28-21 upset of top-ranked Ohio State.

Big Ten coordinator of officials Dave Parry said he was watching the game from the conference's offices in Chicago and was upset that instant-replay officials did not stop play.

"Absolutely," Parry said. "I've got to be careful what I say, but strong measures were taken. It was not a happy command center at that moment."

The crew working the game, headed by referee Steve Pamon, had come under criticism for its work the previous week when Purdue played Penn State. After the season, a Yahoo Sports investigation revealed Pamon had a history of bankruptcy, casino gambling, child abuse and allegations of sexual harassment.

Several sources have said the Big Ten did not renew Pamon's contract for this season.

"I'm not going to really comment on that right now, because when officials move on, we don't really comment on it," commissioner Jim Delany said. "To be honest with you, we've taken a pretty good, thorough look at that situation. I would say before the season starts I'll have a little more detail on it, but I didn't think today was the time or the place to get into that."

After the game against Illinois, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he heard the replay crew was having some technical difficulties with the equipment. Parry said he didn't know anything about that.

The Big Ten began using instant replay in 2004. In 2006, the NCAA adopted a policy for all schools. The replay officials are supposed to stop play whenever they believe an error has been made.

Coaches have been allowed one challenge per game, but starting this season coaches will be allowed a second challenge if their first challenge is upheld.

Tressel has said he was hesitant to use his one challenge early in a game, in case a more obvious opportunity arose later.

Under the lights

Ohio State will have an evening practice in Ohio Stadium, open to the public, on Aug. 18. Details will be announced later.

Dispatch reporter Tim May contributed to this story.

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