BYU football: Craig Thompson letter says replay officials in BYU-SDSU game 'weren't sufficiently aggressive'
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives
A private letter between MWC commissioner Criag Thompson and San Diego State President Stephen Weber obtained by San Diego media indicate the video replay crew working the Aztec football game with BYU Oct. 9 in LaVell Edwards Stadium "weren't sufficiently aggressive" enough in pointing out that conclusive video evidence on live TV showed a non-fumble call was wrong.
The issue has become a ping-pong ball by high-level SDSU boosters, who fired off a second letter to BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson within a week over the controversial play.
The letter, dated Sunday from Thompson to Weber, found its way to SDSU boosters and media. Three boosters (Leon Parma, Bob Payne and Jack Goodall) told the San Diego Union-Tribune the new revelations were "shocking" and they immediately wrote BYU's Samuelson on Tuesday and asked him to take action on them.
The letter from Thompson referred to the league's investigation into what transpired in the video replay booth and the actions of the three men the MWC employed to work the booth. While the MWC found no malfeasance by the officials, all three were suspended because they did not aggressively find all the evidence from live TV feeds in the play.
While replay showed a BYU fumble recovered by the Aztecs, head replay official Mike Angelis ruled that there wasn't a fumble, keeping the ball with the Cougars, who later scored a touchdown on the drive.
The Union-Tribune report said the ruling shocked MWC staff members who were watching. The error was compounded because the game was so close.
Thompson's letter to Weber said, "There were no technical difficulties and that, in fact, all the replay views" were available to the replay crew identified by the Union-Tribune as replay official Mike Angelis, of Reno, Nev., and BYU alumni Chad Bunn and Provo resident Rob Moon. Bunn was the replay communicator and Moon worked as the replay technician.
"It became clear the replay official (Angelis) had become disproportionately focused on the Camera No. 5 shot (which had player traffic obscuring the football at certain points) and on the issue of "clear recovery."
While Angelis, Bunn and Moon have never commented on the incident as per league rules, a source close to one of the three told the Deseret News that Bunn told Angelis there were other camera angles of the play and Angelis said, "No, I got this."
But according to what Thompson said in his letter to Weber, Angelis, "failed to ask the communicator (Bunn) if there were additional clips available for review before making his final decision. Concurrently, the communicator (Bunn) was not sufficiently aggressive in notifying the replay official that additional thumbnails (video evidence) were available. Finally, the technician (Moon) who had a view of the television line feed, did not notice or did not interject that a definitive view of the play was being shown on the air."
After the controversy, all three men were suspended for a week and the league adopted a new policy that bars employees of a host school from working in the video booth at home team stadiums.
In the letter to Weber, Thompson said the MWC was convinced no malfeasance had occurred and that a combined human error was at the root of the missed replay call. He told Weber the league still has confidence in these crew members.
Thompson said the suspensions came "because they had failed to communicate effectively as a unit and did not successfully utilize the information available to make a correct decision."
Thompson's report to Weber indicated the league's director of officials called the replay booth after the call and wondered why the play wasn't ruled a fumble.
"All three members of the replay crew were astonished to receive the phone call (it is not standard procedure to call the booth during the game) and could not understand, based upon what they had seen, why there was an issue," according to Thompson's letter.
Following the game, Thompson said MWC officials told the crew replays existed that showed indisputable evidence of the fumble and the crew reported they had no knowledge of such a "look" and Angelis reaffirmed what he saw was not sufficient to rule it a fumble. The crew, according to the commissioner, spent 60 to 90 minutes after the game and reviewed the video that Angelis made his decision from and still did not "identify the definite replay."
Thompson's letter said after the game, the crew saw the available video and "were horrified to learn of their mistake."
According to the Union-Tribune, SDSU boosters said in their second letter to BYU's Samuelson that "we leave the fine points to the legal scholars schooled in the meaning of gross negligence."
"What is more shocking is that the national television (video)... replayed the questionable call over and over again," the boosters' new letter states.
"How was the withheld play not seen at that time and the replay (not) forwarded to the replay official?"
Last week, in response to SDSU boosters' call for a full investigation by BYU, BYU issued a statement that said all MWC protocol by the crew was followed in the game and that insinuations that there was wrongdoing were erroneous.
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