California defensive end Chris McCain has been reinstated to play in the Golden Bears' Sept. 7 game against Portland State after the junior was wrongfully ejected under the new targeting rules, the Pac-12 announced Monday.
McCain was penalized for a hit on Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian in the fourth quarter, but the replay equipment malfunctioned and the replay official in the booth never reviewed McCain's disqualification, as mandated by the NCAA.
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"Because the Targeting penalty was not reviewed at the time, the Pac-12 Conference has reviewed the play and determined that McCain should have been reinstated into the game," the conference said in a statement.
Under the targeting rule, any player ejected in the second half of a game is suspended for the first half of the next game.
With McCain, Cal's top pass rusher, in the locker room, Northwestern would drive down for the go-ahead field goal on that possession and eventually win the game 44-30.
Cal head coach Sonny Dykes was pleased that the conference acknowledged its error.
"Kudos to those guys for recognizing there was a mistake. There's a lot of conference offices that wouldn't have had the guts to do what they did," Dykes said Monday.
The Pac-12 has also disciplined the replay crew for failing to properly communicate with the referee on the field.