- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson tried to choose his words carefully when talking about a facemask call on one of his players against Stanford.

Apparently, he wasn’t careful enough.

The Pac-10 reprimanded Erickson on Tuesday for publicly criticizing the officials for missing a call on linebacker Vontaze Burfict during the fourth quarter of Stanford’s 17-13 win on Saturday.

The conference acknowledged the officials missed the call, but said Erickson shouldn’t have said anything publicly.

“Regardless of the circumstances, the Pac-10 has clear and specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating,” Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

“There are protocols in place that provide our coaches with the opportunity to grade officials each week and to privately voice their concern to the conference office. We expect each Pac-10 coach to adhere to the conference protocol and policies.”

The play in question came during the Cardinal’s game-winning drive, when Burfict was hit with a 15-yard facemask call for a tackle on Stanford’s Doug Baldwin on a short pass play with just over 6 minutes left.

Replays showed Burfict actually grabbed Baldwin by the top of the jersey and the volatile linebacker responded by shouting a profanity at the official _ according to the Pac-10 _ and was hit with a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The two penalties moved Stanford inside the Arizona State 10-yard line and Owen Marecic later scored on a 1-yard dive.

The Pac-10 agreed the facemask call was missed and would be addressed as part of its grading and evaluation process for officials. The conference also said the correct call was made on the second penalty because any profanity personally directed at an official is an automatic trigger for an unsportsmanlike penalty.

Erickson’s reprimand came from comments he made to the Arizona Republic on Sunday.

The coach told the paper that the officials have been good, for the most part, this season, but couldn’t understand why the crew didn’t get together when the official who made the call couldn’t see the play clearly.

“The guy in the secondary made the call,” Erickson said. “The action was in front of him. They’re supposed to get together.”

Erickson also acknowledged that Burfict sometimes gets himself in trouble by reacting, but shouldn’t have been hit with the flag on the facemask call.

“He played that game flawlessly until that last deal, and then all of a sudden there’s a flag on a 15-yard penalty that he didn’t commit,” he said.

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