SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Upon further review, Charlie Weis thinks the officials got almost everything right at the end of the Southern California game.
After watching replays, though, he's not sure the ball should have been spotted inside the 1-yard line after USC quarterback Matt Leinart fumbled.
"I think it was pretty close to being right," Weis said Monday, meeting with reporters for the first time since immediately after Saturday's 34-31 loss to the top-ranked Trojans.
He said the officials could have gotten the call exactly right, except USC coach Pete Carroll had vetoed use of instant replay.
The disputed play occurred in the closing seconds. On second-and-goal from the 2, Leinart rolled out left back to the 10 and then turned up field toward the end zone. At about the 2 he leaped toward the end zone and was hit hard by Irish linebacker Corey
Mays, jarring the ball loose. The ball bounced out of bounds. In the confusion the clock continued to run, ticking down to 0:00.
Irish fans flooded the field and Weis walked out on the field with his arms raised, but he never took his headset off. He knew the game wasn't over.
"Not for one second did I really believe that the clock was really going to run out," he said.
Weis said the referee first told him Leinart had fumbled the ball forward but then ruled he had fumbled it backward. He said he was told by the referee that the official who had made the ruling had changed his mind.
The placement became key because on the next play, a quarterback keeper, Leinart scored the game-winner in the 34-31 victory with second effort and a push by tailback Reggie Bush.
Weis said he wishes the Pac-10 officials could have used instant replay to make sure they got the call exactly right.
"Without replay, you don't know for sure," he said.
After seeing replays, some Irish fans were upset that Bush wasn't penalized for pushing Leinart in. But Weis said even though it's against the rules, he had no problem with it.
"That's a heads-up by Reggie and hopefully any running back I had would be pushing right along with him," he said.
Weis said if he had any real complaint about officiating at the end it was that USC assistant coach Brennan Carroll, Pete Carroll's son, was down near the end zone signaling for a timeout and wasn't penalized.
"They are out of the coach's box and they are calling timeouts with no timeouts left," Weis said. "Now that's a penalty and that alone puts them out of touchdown scoring range and to field-goal range."
Despite various media calling it a great game and Pete Carroll calling it a classic, Weis didn't think so.
"You can say whatever you want, it's not going to be one of my greatest games because we lost," he said. "It will never be one of my greatest games."
Weis tried to turn the disappointment into a teaching moment. He told his 12-year-old son, Charlie Jr., he wanted them to walk over to the USC locker room to congratulate them on their win.
"He thought I was hallucinating when I said that," Weis said.
Because of the magnitude of the game and the way it ended, Weis thought it was the gracious thing to do.
"I just wanted to let them know that I had respect for their team and the way they played and I thought that they showed a lot of character to go back and win that game," he said. "I thought it was a good lesson for my son."