Teams should not be beaten by the officials


The quality of college football isnít as good overall in smaller conferences as it is in bigger ones. Unfortunately, neither is the quality of officiating.

Seldom is a game decided by an official late in the game in the bigger loops. The exception is if the infraction is completely flagrant and obvious, especially concerning holding. Itís said that holding can be called on every play if an official so desires.

Sorry to say, in smaller conferences officials sometimes seem to be trying to make a name for themselves and call too many picayune penalties.


NOW, IíM not saying thatís what happened at the UTEP-Buffalo football game last week. But some folks believe it did.

UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe threw one of the most beautiful touchdown passes youíd ever want to see with only seconds on the clock. It would have tied the game and the Miners could have won with the extra point, 24-23.

The Miners and the crowd went wild. Then here came the flag. One of the officials had called holding on the play.


SOME WHO have seen replays of the game claim it wasnít holding at all. In fact, one insider says the Miner accused of holding had his hands on the defenderís chest, which is legal. The Miner fell backward and the defender fell on top of him.

Whatever, these folks claim it was such a small thing it shouldnít have been called at all, much less in such a crucial situation.

What some linemen do on crucial plays in major college games could be considered mayhem compared to what the Miners did. That includes the game I watched last Monday between University of Miami and Florida State.


A VICTORY on that potential winning play by the Miners could have been another ďTurning Point Play,Ē like the one in 1966 when the Miners beat Utah on the last play of the game and went on to a great season. Instead the Miners wound up with a much harder road -- facing mighty Kansas and Texas in two of their next three games.

Now, Iím not saying that the Miners deserved to beat Buffalo. Gawd, they played so poorly most of the game they should never have been in that final perilous position.

Still, it hurts to be beaten by an officialís call.


BY THE WAY, the new surface at the Sun Bowl is breathtakingly attractive. Mark down another big plus for UTEP athletic director Bob Stull. The man is a miracle worker. There have been so many major facility improvements at the school on his watch itís, as El Paso sports historian Steve Hill puts it, ďstartling.Ē

The new surface wasnít even planned for this year but Stull saw an opening and took it. The company that put it in had finished other projects and had a crew available. Stull had planned to delay the installation of the new surface a year but he and the company spokesman got together for a chat.

They came to an agreement where the company would defer some of the financing and throw in some other incentives.


THE INSTALLATION had to be done quickly. When the agreement was reached there were only four weeks left before the opening of the season. The company guaranteed it would have the surface installed in time for the Sept. 5 opening.

It did.

It was a win-win situation. The company put its idle crew to work and UTEP got its surface and a good financial arrangement.

Thanks again, Mr. Stull.


Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at or online at