This morning, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott took the stage to welcome everyone to the Pac-12 Media Days at Warner Brothers Studios in beautiful, downtown Burbank,
After making his introductory remarks, Commissioner Scott took questions. The first question he was asked was about penalties. Specifically, the question was:
Nine of the 25 most penalized tames last year in FCS were in the Pac-12. There seems to be a perception of overzealousness by officiating crews. I'm wondering if you think it's a case of overzealousness, or if there's a lack of discipline on the teams?
To the surprise of those in attendance, Commissioner Scott then proceeded to essentially say that the number of penalties called was the result of offenses running a lot of plays.
Scott's response was rather surprising:
Well, it's something we track and something we talk about regularly with our coaches. I don't think it's overzealousness, but there is a certain style of play in the Pac-12 that's led itself to certain types of penalties, holding and others. And that is the very open, fast-paced, multiple plays, lot of throwing plays types of offense a lot of our teams are known for. We do tend to run more plays than other conferences.
As we've looked at it, that is one of the criteria that we've identified that's probably always going to lend itself to more penalties. There is a direct correlation between the number of offensive plays that you run and the number of penalties.
Aside from that, I'm sure every conference has their own style of calling, but it's something we look at, but not something -- we have not come to the same conclusion that was underlying your question.
That led to a follow-up question about inconsistent officiating.
If I could follow up with that, I'm talking about specifically, for example I think there was a play either last year or the year before where they were measuring for the first down, and it was clearly about an inch and a half of space between the stick and the ball, and the Pac-12 crew determined that it was a first down. Stuff like that is giving the crews or a particular crew I should say, the perception of inconsistent officiating. I'm wondering if that's been addressed at all by you?
Scott responded by talking about the three things the conference is doing to improve officiating. Scott feels that the combination of training, accountability and constant improvement will make a difference. Scott said:
There are mistakes that get made in officiating. Our aspiration is to strive for perfection knowing it's unattainable in officiating. What I focus on, and what David Coleman, our new director of officiating focuses on is to have the best training in the country. To have accountability, so if mistakes, like the one you're alluding to that may have been made, officials are held accountable and it affects their grading, it may affect assignments or their future or postseason, things of that nature, and constant improvement....What we look to is are we improving? The thing I'm most excited about, perhaps, is with the commitment that we've made as a conference in all of our schools is to invest in having one of this country's leaders in football officiating, David Coleman....So now we're going to have someone seven days a week in the office, not just reviewing everything that takes place on a given Saturday, but also spending more time with our officials, training, working on improvement, working on mechanics and the like. So I'm confident there is no conference in the country that is making a greater commitment to excellence in officiating than the Pac- 12.
This should make tomorrow morning's session with David Coleman extremely interesting.
In other news, Commissioner Scott is optimistic about resolving the DirecTV standoff now that AT&T has acquired the satellite provider. But said that he "can't predict what may happen when because those conversations have not been able to take place heretofore."
This is extremely disappointing. When Charter and Time Warner agreed to merge, they were immediately able to announce that Charter subscribers would have SportsNet LA added within weeks. Considering how much of a partner AT&T is with the conference, Scott should have been able to secure a guarantee from AT&T to add Pac-12 Networks to DirecTV prior to the start of football season. Today would have been an ideal opportunity to announce something like that, but it seems like the conference has dropped the ball.