Mar 27, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins discusses a call with a referee during the first half of the semifinal round against the Massachusetts Minutemen at the NIT held at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
This story “Ed Rush Hired As Pac-12 Coordinator Of Men’s Basketball Officials” was written yesterday by Brian Floyd @Cougcenter.com and really caught my attention in a good way from the Pac-12. I applaud Larry Scott (Pac-12 Commissioner) for now, in back to back years, going to the top to replace his Officiating Coordinators, beginning with Mike Pereira as an interim DOA and then Tony Corrente as the full time participant for the upcoming 2012 Pac-12 football campaign and now bringing in Ed Rush to man the basketball side of things.
Pereira has a nice timeline and event chain laid out these articles, giving his thoughts on the recent staff and methods for dealing with them in the wake of a growing dislike of Pac-12 officiating by fans and coaches alike. I find it interesting in one of the pieces that Pereira notes that the NFL hasn’t hired a Pac-12 official in 7 years! Corrente is a high quality ex-NFL official and brings a ton of experience to the table, as well as a knowledge of good officiating and a willingness to continue what Pereira started (when he fired 12 of the 44 Pac-12 officials last season and made it obvious that he is willing to do the same thing this season if things aren’t corrected) by keeping Mike on his advisory staff. This is a great, great thing for the conference.
I will not say for certain but if I had to guess I would surmise that the basketball side is about to experience the same upheaval in some sense because there’s no doubt the Pac-12 has been viewed as the joke of all conferences when it comes to officiating in basketball too. Not to say that there aren’t some really incredible officials in the Pac-12, because there are, some of the best even. But the fact of the matter is that the conference is widely viewed as the most inconsistently called league from game to game, half to half, and in a lot of cases even from play to play, in the country. More than “on occasion” has that recent inconsistency cost one of our “bubble teams” an all-important game and seeding or a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The few great officials in the conference make great consistent calls on what we call like plays (which I will cover at some point in my “Rulebook Wednesday” forum), while the majority can’t seem to find the balance between calling a clean bump on one end and a foul on the other.
On the other hand I am not saying that I think all of the other conferences are perfect in their basketball officiating philosophies either. I don’t like the ACC or Big East in particular when it comes to the way their games are handled by the officials. I’m not against a fair amount of contact in college and even some in high school basketball, but there is far too much contact and arguing from both players and coaches in either those leagues without penalty. I find it increasingly interesting that the teams at the top to middle of those conferences generally have been having a tougher and tougher time making it into and winning the late rounds once the Tournament starts in March. Take the examples of Duke, West Virginia, Georgetown, South Florida and Marquette this past year. All of them got bounced by a lower seed or close seed that they should have beaten according to the “experts”. Defensive fouls did most, if not all of them in because of the inability to create their usual contact turnovers to get out and run for a layup.
You see, the great Tourney officials generally (not always though) call fouls when fouls are committed, and there’s no way the players can adjust in time to play cleaner, better basketball in any single game when it’s how they’ve been taught to play by their officials all season. But I will give those two conferences this: They are dead on consistent. Those leagues just simply don’t call very much and the players and coaches know it. Therefore the teams go out and play a physical brand of basketball night in and night out and are able to great in the process from a national media standpoint. Around here you simply don’t know what kind of a game you’re gonna be able to play, and I think it hurts the conference big time because it doesn’t allow the players to play consistently and develop that “brand”.
It used to be good but the last decade it has slowly gotten away from these guys. A man like Rush is just the kick-in-the-pants the conference needs right now at his position. I have a strong feeling he evaluates his talent quickly and either removes at least part of the problem, or fixes it in short order by aggressively threatening to remove said problem. Like I said, there are some fine officials in here, but there are a lot more here that just don’t have a clue. At either rate a more consistent Pac-12 whistle will help the conference gain back national notoriety because our teams will gain a better identity that can be clearly seen on the court.