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Originally published Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Pac-12 waiting for word from UW coach Steve Sarkisian on disputed calls

Pac-12 is waiting for a phone call from Washington coach Steve Sarkisian to discuss officiating calls Sarkisian didn't like in the Huskies' loss at Nebraska. Once the Pac-12 hears from Sarkisian, it will pursue the matter with the Big Ten, which provided the officiating crew for the game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Pac-12 Conference's new coordinator of officiating, Tony Corrente, said Tuesday he backs a couple of the disputed calls made by a Big Ten crew in Saturday's Nebraska-Washington game, and will discuss with that league any complaints lodged if the Huskies pursue it.

"I'm still waiting to get a phone call from coach (Steve Sarkisian) to get his full feeling before I step into it," Corrente said at midday Tuesday from the Pac-12 office in Walnut Creek, Calif. "I don't want to step into anything he doesn't step into at this point."

Sarkisian was irate over several calls in Washington's 51-38 defeat to the Cornhuskers, and Corrente said Sarkisian "did forward some concerns to one of our administrators about some things." Sarkisian indicated on the Pac-12 coaches conference call Tuesday he wanted to pursue an explanation.

Corrente said he had only viewed television replays of the calls. Of three kick-interference calls that went against Washington, he said the one on which he'd like more information came with 1:49 left in the first half, when UW was ruled to have interfered with a Huskers return man.

Washington recovered the ball (it cannot be advanced), but instead of the Huskies having possession at the Huskers' 26, Nebraska took over at its 41 and drove for a field goal and a 20-17 lead it never lost.

"That's the one I'm saying, I'm not privy to what the officials actually ruled — what their rationale was for making the call," Corrente said.

But Corrente backed the rulings of the officials on two other calls. Early in the third quarter on another UW punt, Desmond Trufant tackled a Huskers return man and was flagged 15 yards for kick-catching interference.

"We want to have the player have the opportunity to completely catch the football," Corrente said. "It isn't just because he didn't signal for a fair catch. He has to have an unmolested opportunity to complete the catch."

Asked if that conflicts with the abolition in 2003 of the 2-yard "halo" rule — a zone around the receiver where he couldn't be impeded from making the catch — Corrente said, "Once they got rid of that, it really did not change anything. We basically went to the same rule we'd had forever (that the receiver can't be hindered from making the catch)."

Corrente said an interference call against the UW's Jermaine Kearse on Nebraska's Justin Blatchford on a "pooch" kickoff midway through the fourth quarter was "absolutely correct."

When an onside kick doesn't hit the ground, Corrente explained, the receiver must be given an unmolested chance to catch the ball, even if no fair-catch signal is made. The kick didn't hit the ground before the interference.

Sarkisian also took issue with an excessive-celebration penalty. Even if the Big Ten office were to acknowledge any mistakes, Washington would have no course for redress.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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