For all the criticism of Larry Scott for his failed attempt at expanding with Texas, whether the Colorado and Utah expansion is worth it, his fining Mike Montgomery for criticizing officials and anything else, it looks like the Pac-10 commissioner gets one shiny gold star. When the conference expands and becomes the Pac-12 next season it will do so with 16 new football officials and without 11 who were handed pink slips according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
Scott said that the conference was going to overhaul officiating and an overhaul it is. Mike Pereira, a former NFL official and NFL vice president of officiating, was hired as consultant by the conference in October and is the interim coordinator of officiating for the conference, spearheaded the change.
The 16 new officials come from the Big 12, Mountain West and WAC and the firings and hirings are only part of the changes to officiating born out of an obvious incompetence from the conference's officiating that Pereira spoke about.
"I certainly did not think that for a geographic area like the West Coast that can draw from a lot of officials, I certainly didn't think it was at the level that it could be," he said
Finally the conference is addressing the obvious issue that should have been handled years ago. Scott said there would be changes and now there are, but it doesn't end with getting rid of the bad. Here are the other changes.
- The conference is bringing in seven supervisors to oversee each of the officiating positions and the replay referees. Six of the seven supervisors are NFL officials and they will evaluate all the officials as well as take part in conference calls with the officials. According to Pereira, having a supervisor for each of the official positions has never been used at the collegiate level before.
- Many of the Pac-10 officials will work spring practices and games for evaluation and training. The conference will also bring in a pool of applicants for those spring practices and games that the conference believes could become officials in the conference in the future.
- They will build an officiating command center at the Pac-12 offices so they can watch and monitor all the officials as well as create training tapes. Every other BCS conference has one and Pereira described building one as the conference "coming into the modern age."
- The conference is emphasizing accountability going forward with their officials, not just in terms of getting calls correct, but also on communication, professionalism, fitness and rules knowledge.
It's about time the conference took care of their officiating problem and it's good to see that they're not just aiming to be on par with the other conferences, but to be better than them. We'll find out whether or not the conference expansion proves to be worth it when the next TV deal is negotiated, but we can put this one in the good column for Scott. Next up, basketball officiating? Hopefully.