The coordinators of football officiating for the Mountain West Conference and the Big 12 agreed Monday that the back judge who called Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor for unsportsmanlike conduct at a critical juncture in Saturday's 35-34 home loss to Air Force made the right decision.
A statement released Monday by the Mountain West said, "After thorough review of the incident following the Navy touchdown in overtime, it is clear a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting was warranted under NCAA Football Playing Rule 9-2-1-a.-1 and was properly administered by the CFO West officiating crew. This will be the only comment provided regarding this matter."
It was not attributed to either Ken Rivera of the Mountain West or Walt Anderson of the Big 12, but spokesmen for both leagues said that the two coordinators had been in touch.
The College Football Officiating West consortium is made up of the Mountain West, Big 12 and Southland conferences, and it assigns the crews that work games for those leagues.
Air Force and Navy — an independent that uses ACC officials — have had a policy of allowing the visiting team to make the decision on officials.
Proctor, a senior in his first season as a full time starter, led Navy (2-2) on a riveting fourth-quarter comeback. Trailing by 18 points with 14:55 to go, the Midshipmen tied the game with 19 seconds left in regulation after recovering an onside kick. Proctor finished a seven-play, 59-yard drive with a 5-yard pass to slotback Gee Gee Greene. Navy tied the game on a two-point conversion with Proctor pitching to Alexander Teich.
Then after scoring on a 1-yard run in overtime, Proctor tried to extricate himself from the pile and "got in the face" of a couple of Air Force players, referee Mike Defee told a pool reporter after the game. Television replays showed Proctor bumping into one player. Proctor appeared to say something, then circled back and bumped another player, and appeared to say something to him as well.
Proctor said after the game that he had told one of the Air Force players "explicitly" to move and that he was trying to get back to the Navy sideline.
The 15-yard penalty left senior placekicker Jon Teague with a 35-yard extra point, which was blocked.
Air Force then scored on its first possession of overtime on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Tim Jefferson, and the ensuing extra point was successful. It also looked as if Jefferson had pushed Navy cornerback Kweisi Mitchell as Jefferson got up from the scrum, and was jawing at Navy players. Air Force assistants sitting in a room adjoining the press box could be heard yelling to get Jefferson pulled away from the pile before he also was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Teich called back judge David Vaughan's decision to throw the flag at Proctor "pitiful". Citing the emotions of the game and the rivalry, Ken Niumatalolo said that he thought the referee or back judge should have stepped in between the players to tell them to "settle down".
The one-point victory gave Air Force (3-1) its second straight win over Navy (2-2) after the Falcons lost to the Midshipmen seven consecutive years. Air Force hosts Army (2-3) later in the season and, barring an upset, should retain the Commander In Chief's Trophy.
There was some confusion about the affiliation of Defee's officiating crew. It was initially reported that Defee and Vaughan were from the Big 12 Conference, but spokesman Bob Burda said Monday that they were assigned by the Mountain West. They were assigned by the CFO West, Mountain West spokesman Javan Hedlund said.
The Mountain West Conference is located in Colorado Springs, about a 25-minute drive from Falcon Stadium, where Air Force plays its home games.