College Sports

Woman makes the calls in a bowl for first time

Sarah Thomas made history Saturday at the Pizza Bowl in Detroit, becoming the first woman to officiate a bowl game when she worked the matchup between Ohio and Marshall.

Thomas is one of five women officiating in major college football, but Pizza Bowl spokesman Tim Moore said she was the first to draw an assignment for a Football Bowl Subdivision postseason game.

“It was an honor,” Thomas said while running off the field with her colleagues after Marshall’s 21-17 victory at Ford Field.

Thomas’ position as line judge meant she spent most of the game in front of the Thundering Herd’s bench, but the Marshall players didn’t pay much attention.

“I noticed her before the game, but that was it,” said Marshall running back Martin Ward, the game’s MVP. “Once the game started, she was just doing the job that the line judge does in every game we play. It didn’t matter that she was a woman at all.”

Thomas became the first woman to be an official for a major college football game in 2007 and is on the NFL’s list of officiating prospects. The married mother of two young sons is from Brandon, Miss., and is a pharmaceutical representative.

“She did a good job,” Marshall coach Rick Minter said.

Cougars corral junior

Washington State football coaches are billing their 2010 recruiting class as one of the best in school history, and the Cougars appear to have already made an impressive start on their 2011 recruiting efforts.

Bishop Sankey, a first-team all-state running back who ran for 2,011 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane this year, said he made a verbal commitment to WSU last week.

“I really like WSU,” Sankey said Saturday. “I really like their coaching staff.

“Every time I visit WSU, I just get a really good feeling. They’re an up-and-coming program.”

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Sankey said he has run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds on artificial turf. That is below average for a Pacific-10 Conference running back, but Sankey still has another year of high school ball remaining, and he averaged 9.9 yards per carry last season.

High school players cannot sign letters of intent until February of their senior year.

Howie Stalwick

Irish LB delays mission

Notre Dame freshman linebacker Manti Te’o said Saturday he will delay taking a Mormon mission and return next season.

Te’o, who started the last eight games for the Irish and was fourth on the team with 63 tackles, said he’s not sure when he will take his two-year mission.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to take it after next year or later on in life,” he said.

The 63 tackles by Te’o set a Notre Dame freshman record. Linebacker Bob Golic finished with 82 in 1975 and defensive end Ross Browner had 68 in 1973. The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Hawaiian arrived on campus as the most highly rated defensive recruit for Notre Dame in years.

He had 10 tackles in the season finale against Stanford and also against Washington.

He said he reached his decision after talking with his parents, other family members and his bishop in South Bend. He called it the biggest decision of his life.

“I knew the impact of my decision could have a positive influence on those who follow me and those who watch what I do. I always want to have a positive influence on them,” he said.

USC’s McKnight sits

Southern California star tailback Joe McKnight sat out the Emerald Bowl against Boston College.

McKnight was not cleared by the school to play Saturday night and did not dress for the game. USC is investigating whether McKnight violated rules by using an SUV that doesn’t belong to him. McKnight joined the Trojans in San Francisco on Wednesday night and practiced the past two days.