Purdue requires neutral officials
A Pac-10 crew will work Saturday's nonconference game
A crew from the Pac-10 will officiate Saturday's football game between No. 25 Hawaii (9-2) and Purdue (8-4) at Aloha Stadium, Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said yesterday.
Traditionally, games between teams from different conferences have been officiated by crews from the home team's conference.
Hawaii players have received eight WAC Player of the Week awards this season
Sept. 18 - Offense: RB Nate Ilaoa
Oct. 9 - Offense: QB Colt Brennan
Oct. 16 - Offense: QB Colt Brennan
Oct. 23 - Defense: DE Melila Purcell, Special Teams: KR - - Ross Dickerson
Oct 30 - Special Teams: KR Ross Dickerson
Nov. 6 - Offense: QB Colt Brennan
Nov. 20 - Defense: DE Melila Purcell
"The Big Ten is requiring neutral officials," Benson said.
When asked if this is a policy for all nonconference games involving WAC teams, Benson said, "No, just games involving the University of Hawaii."
Hawaii coach June Jones declined comment when told of the Pac-10 crew and Benson's comments.
Earlier in the day, at his weekly news conference, Jones said he did not know where Saturday's officials would be from.
"I don't know if it's a split crew I don't know if it's a Pac-10 crew. I don't think it's a WAC crew. Why that, I don't know," Jones said. "When we go up there we play with Big Ten officials. Seems like it's only fair."
Michigan State complained about WAC officials when the Warriors beat the Spartans 41-38, Dec. 4, 2004 at Aloha Stadium. Michigan State was flagged 16 times for 119 yards.
Also, Michigan State is trying to get out of a contracted game at Hawaii next season. MSU officials said they don't want to play a 13th game at Hawaii next year because it would interfere too much with academics.
Michigan State is disputing a $250,000 buyout clause in the contract for the game. The issue is being handled by lawyers from UH and MSU. Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier said he cannot announce the Warriors' 2007 football schedule until it is resolved. At this point, that schedule has just one nonconference game other than the disputed one with Michigan State, leaving either three or four openings.
Hawaii does not have a great history with Pac-10 officials. In 2003, the conference's supervisor of officials admitted to two blown calls against the Warriors in key situations with the score tied in the first half of a game that USC eventually won 61-32.
UH was called for 12 penalties for 140 yards in its 54-17 victory over San Jose State last Saturday. Hawaii is the fifth-most penalized team (by yardage) among 119 in Division I.
Purcell honored again:
End Melila Purcell was named WAC defensive player of the week for the second time this season. The senior was cited for his statistics against San Jose State. He had eight tackles (seven solo), including 3.5 for a loss of 10 yards and a forced fumble.
Jones said Purcell has contributed in many other ways.
"He did his job at the highest level," Jones said. "I mean he did things, taking guys and playing against pressure, the blocks, fundamental things about as well as I've seen since he's been here. And he's very deserving of any award he gets."
Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky and Nevada punt returner D'Angelo Wilson won the offense and special teams awards.
The Warriors' injured backup defensive linemen continue to trickle back to practice.
"Amani (end Purcell) will probably practice this week," Jones said.
Keala Watson and Renolds Fruean -- who, like Purcell, were injured at New Mexico State last month -- suited up Saturday and played briefly.
"I think we're getting healthier," Jones said.
Another defensive lineman, Lawrence Wilson, suffered a slightly sprained ankle Saturday, but returned to the game. He jogged on it yesterday.
Big crowd cometh?:
Saturday's game is shaping up to be the best-attended home event of the year. As of yesterday evening, 34,750 tickets were distributed, including around 3,000 to Purdue fans making the trip from Indiana.
Saturday's turnstile crowd of 29, 523 (33,622 distributed) was the largest of six home games.
Secondary coach Rich Miano said the entire defensive unit was awarded game balls after Saturday's performance. UH limited San Jose State to 192 yards, a low for the season. ... Jones said the normally dependable Myron Newberry will not lose his punt returning job for losing a fumble at the Hawaii 5, setting up a Spartans touchdown. "He made a bad decision, he should've just gotten away from it," Jones said. The coach added he planned for slotback Davone Bess to return some punts in the final three games.