In addition to announcing that the Pac-12 Championship Game will be played in Las Vegas in 2020 and 2021, conference commissioner Larry Scott also announced the completion of the independent review of the conference’s officiating program.
Pac-12 football officials have long been a sore spot for many UCLA Bruins fans, but things really came to a head after it appeared that Pac-12 administrator Woodie Dixon may have changed a replay call during the Washington State-Southern Cal game last season.
The Pac-12 hired Sibson Consulting to conduct a complete review of the conference’s football officiating program. The conference is touting the fact that this review concluded that the football officiating program is “fundamentally sound and predominantly consistent with industry best practice, including with regard to the quality of officials and use of state-of-the-art technology.”
While that may be the case, Sibson Consulting found plenty of areas where the conference can improve. Specifically, Sibson recommended changes in the areas of grading and evaluation, training, hiring and recruiting, replay, targeting and reporting structure.
The good news for Pac-12 football fans is that the conference is implementing all of the recommendations that Sibson made.
According to the conference’s press release, the recommendations which will be implemented for this coming season include:
- The head of officiating to report directly to the Commissioner rather than the football administrator;
- Adoption of a new replay manual codifying processes and procedures that will eliminate the potential for an incident like the one in last year’s Washington State v. USC game reoccurring;
- Enhancements to training programs for officials, and more consistency in grading and training from the officiating supervisors; and
- A new communications protocol with more transparency and public comment around significant calls or errors that either impact player safety or the result of the game.
“Our work began in February and included benchmarking against the NFL all four of our peer conferences,” said Scott. “It benefited from detailed input from all of our coaches, all of our athletics directors, current and former officials and other key stakeholders.”
“[T]here’s going to be a shift in our communications protocol when it comes to officiating, with more transparency and public comment around significant calls or errors that either impact player safety or the result of the game.”
Hopefully, this all results in more consistency from the Pac-12 officials, both on the field and in the replay booth, as well as more transparency regarding controversial calls.