Another Pac-12 officiating fiasco: Conference admits replay crew made 2 errors in Cal-Stanford game

November 25, 2014

The Pac-12 is stocked with NFL talent, is starting to overcome the East Coast media bias that has long affected its poll standings, and is poised to send at least one member school into this season's four-team football playoff, but one black mark still stubbornly clings to the Conference and damages its reputation: the officiating.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced in a release this week that the Conference has acknowledged that its instant replay crew made two errors in the Stanford-California game on Saturday, November 22.

The admission constitutes another very public blunder for Pac-12 officiating, which has seen high-level resignations among its administration, and whistle-happy refs on the field, to the point where several Conference schools are among the nation's leaders in penalties accumulated.

Among the nation's top 25 most-penalized schools, eight of the Conference's twelve schools make the list -- Cal, Oregon State, USC, Oregon, UCLA, Washington State, Washington, and Colorado.

It's not unreasonable to think that perhaps the lower-tier teams in the league might be more mistake-prone, but when this many teams are involved and when the two division leaders (Oregon and UCLA) are among the highly-penalized, it goes beyond mere coincidence.  Quite simply, the officials are becoming overly involved in the game.

This pattern could be damaging when Pac-12 schools play non-conference opponents in bowl games this postseason, as teams will have to adjust from worrying about ticky-tack contact and playing it safe, to performing with more leeway and aggression when they get non-conference officiating crews.  Safe to say, their bowl game opponents will not have to make such a drastic adjustment.

In truth, penalties can be called on most every play, but the great officials know when to swallow their whistle.  When is that you might ask?  When neither team gains an advantage over the other from the foul, or when the penalty has no effect on the play.

Apparently the fame-seeking referees in the Pac-12 did not get that memo, as many of them are quite eager to put their imprint on the game for all the world to see.

Last Saturday's comedy of errors in the Cal-Stanford rivalry game was only the latest example of such buffoonery.

During a California possession late in the third quarter, the instant replay crew reviewed and overturned three consecutive on-field touchdown calls by the game officials on one California offensive possession in the red zone.

The NCAA Playing Rules state that to reverse an on-field ruling, the replay official must be convinced beyond all doubt by indisputable video evidence.

Nevertheless, the highly proactive officials in the booth felt compelled to make inferences and engage in speculation, rather than simply see what the film itself had to offer.  As a result, all the Cal TD's were nullified, leading an enraged crowd to chant an expletive during the sequence, and forcing the Bears offense to settle for a field goal.

The third overturned call was the most disgraceful of the three, as the replay booth seemed to look very aggressively for a "juggled" ball on what otherwise appeared to be a clear touchdown reception.

Through the Conference’s officiating and game management review process, it was determined that there was not enough evidence through video replay for the instant replay crew to overturn the second and third touchdown calls made by the officials on the field.

The replay crew will be held accountable for the errors through the Conference’s disciplinary process, according to the Pac-12.

By Mike Elliott
Editor of

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