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Close Calls, Video Reviews at Rose Bowl

January 5, 2006

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Close calls, video reviews, lots of boos.

Fans of both Texas and Southern California reacted loudly and often to the officiating during the national championship game Wednesday night, with a string of replays and at least a couple of blown calls on the field.

Vince Young and the Longhorns got away with a big one _ a play that should not have been a score.

That’s what instant replay is supposed to prevent.

It didn’t in this case.

With USC leading 7-3 in the first half, Young scrambled for 10 yards down to the USC 12. As the Longhorns’ quarterback was being tackled, he lateraled to Selvin Young, who took off into the end zone.

One problem: Vince Young’s left knee was on the ground when he tossed the ball to his teammate.

The Longhorns quickly lined up for the PAT kick, and once that play began, it was too late to review the touchdown.

Texas went on to win, 41-38.

Under the rules used for the Rose Bowl, coaches can’t ask for a review. Only the official in the video booth can make that decision. Big Ten Conference officials worked the game between the Big 12 and Pac-10 conference champions.

A coach’s only recourse after a call on the field is to call a timeout and hope the official in the booth will take a closer look at a play.

Vince Young thought there was a reason there was no review of his lateral: ``My knee wasn’t down,″ he said.

It didn’t appear that way on the replay.

The first review of the game overturned a missed call. Texas safety Michael Griffin sprinted toward the sideline, leaped in front of a USC receiver and snared the ball. Field officials ruled that Griffin was out of bounds.

When the replay was shown on the stadium’s big board, the Longhorns fans booed because Griffin clearly got a foot down before he crossed the line. The review gave the ball to the Longhorns.

Later, a Reggie Bush somersault into the end zone for USC was reviewed, and when field officials announced that the play stood, more boos came from the Texas fans.

There were other reviews, none overturning on-field calls, and it went down to the wire. The final review, with a minute remaining, came when Brian Carter caught a 9-yard pass from Young, was tackled immediately, then the ball squirted out.

The video replay showed that Carter was on the ground when a USC defender ripped the ball from his arms, so the Longhorns kept the ball at the USC 36. They scored the winning touchdown some 40 seconds later.


A TIME PAST: Former Southern California running back C.R. Roberts, sitting high in the Rose Bowl stands with his daughter, was having difficulty not cheering for Texas quarterback Vince Young.

Things have changed dramatically since USC had to switch hotels in Austin in 1956 because the one booked for the players for their game against the all-white Texas team turned out to be segregated.

Roberts was one of three black players for the Trojans, and USC coach Jess Hill moved the entire squad to another hotel.

On game day, Roberts rushed for 251 yards _ a school record that stood for 20 years _ in a 44-20 victory over the Longhorns.

``There were some people cheering for me,″ Roberts recalled. ``I think the word got around that the team had some black players, and there were quite a few black people at the game, and even some Mexican-American who might not have usually been there.

``And, although my teammates heard some stuff, the Texas players were very gracious to me.″

While staunchly loyal to the Trojans, the 70-year-old Roberts also has a soft spot for the Longhorns.

``I follow SC and I follow them,″ he said. ``A few years ago, I saw that practically their whole first string was black.″

Young, the Longhorns’ dazzling quarterback, is black, and Roberts admires his ability.

``I don’t feel like cheering for him, but sometimes it’s hard not to,″ Roberts said with a smile.

After finishing his degree, Roberts went on to play pro football for a few years before returning to the Los Angeles area and becoming a high school teacher. He’s now retired.


CELEBRITY BAN: For a change, there were no actors, actresses, rap stars or other entertainment celebrities on either sideline for the Texas-Southern California matchup.

Even Matthew McConaughey, the movie star who is one of the Longhorns’ biggest boosters, and die-hard Trojans fan Will Ferrell were banned from the sidelines at the Rose Bowl. Both were at the game, however.

Bowl Championship Series officials decided to keep the sidelines clear of celebrity clutter for the national title game, allowing each team only five passes for former players.

One singer, however, made it to the center of the field. LeAnn Rimes sang a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

Others at the game included actors Henry Winkler and James Denton.

As the game ended with a 41-38 victory by Texas, McConaughey gleefully gave the ``Hook ’em Horns″ sign.

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