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A targeting call against Washington State linebacker Logan Tago was reportedly overturned during the Cougars’ Sept. 21 loss to USC after a “third party” intervened in the review process.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, Pac-12 general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs Woodie Dixon overturned the targeting call even though in-stadium replay officials and officials stationed in the Pac-12’s San Francisco headquarters agreed Tago’s hit on USC quarterback JT Daniels constituted targeting.
Citing sources, Thamel reported Dixon “telephoned in his opinion that the play wasn’t targeting.”
Thamel obtained an internal report penned by Pac-12 replay official Gary McNanna that explained the situation as it happened:
“Both the replay booth and the command center agreed this was a targeting foul, but unfortunately a third party did not agree so the targeting was removed and we went with the ruling on the field of (roughing the passer) with no targeting. This didn’t play well on TV. Reversed my stoppage for (targeting) to not (targeting).”
USC’s 39-36 win over Washington State included another controversial no-call of targeting when Trojans linebacker Porter Gustin launched into Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew with the crown of his helmet.
Although the call appeared rather clear on replay and in real time, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott indicated it was a borderline call.
“As you know, in any given game there are a lot of close calls, and this was a very, very close one,” he told the Associated Press’ Anne Peterson (via the Register-Guard). “No doubt about it.”
Scott later clarified his remarks after they drew quite a bit of criticism.
“Unfortunately my comments were interpreted to be saying the conference had officially reviewed and I, or the conference office, had officially determined there was a correct no-call and that was the final word,” Scott said, per ESPN.com’s Dan Murphy. “That’s not the case.”