Ed Rush vs Sean Miller: College Basketball Coaches, the Pac-12 and the Human Element of Officiating

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Most fans are going to agree with Jeff that Rush should be fired and I can see where they are coming from. But from an official’s standpoint (I’m a high school basketball official) it’s clear to me that this was meant differently. As I wrote in my endorsement article Rush was brought in to “cut the fat” so to speak. Frankly, the conference needs better officiating and it only starts with replacing your weakest officials, regardless of their “rank” or “tenure”. If I had to guess, the official who made the comments against Ed Rush is a veteran official who doesn’t like change. Since it’s a total guess, I’ll leave it at that, but there’s something to be said for that as well. Rush is the voice of somewhat major change right now in the conference and somebody or multiple somebodies don’t like that they could be ousted for doing what they’re used to doing or not doing something new. Peep this little nugget:

"Veteran Dick Cartmell of the Tri-Cities, a five-time Final Four official, recently submitted his resignation from the Pac-12. Monday, he cited to The Seattle Times “personal differences with the direction of the officiating program.”"

Cartmell is the best of the best, but he’s a veteran official and that further enhances my point.

For the comments of Rush during the meeting, I agree they shouldn’t have been said or they should have been generalized to the entire coaching group to have been more clear. A large reward or “personal bounty” like that can never go over well, especially when offering to a large group of people that in for the most part don’t like you. But what he was saying wasn’t completely as it seems, most likely, which is why he is still employed as the director. Again as an official I would say the comment was meant to sound more like this: “Anyone who has the balls to “T him up” in the tourney should be rewarded, because we have taken too much from him all year and we have to set a bar. Do not deal with his crap!”

It’s a fact that officials take far too much of that crap from coaches all season long in college hoops. The Pac-12’s officials take more than most and coaches walk all over most of these officials because they are allowed that freedom. Then a “T” is finally given and somebody freaks out because they get that leisure from other officials.

Based on the comments that I quoted earlier it’s quite possible and quite clear that nobody wants to “throw out a Tech” to a coach for fear of being reported for personal vendetta or whatever and tossed from the league. In conjunction, some of the more veteran officials have built up “rapport” with these coaches and just care a lot about their status with them more than anything else. Silly as that may sound, that’s the human element of officiating and it happens all the time, regardless of how “impartial” you want to be. But officials still talk to each other about coaches they don’t enjoy officiating for, while Rush and Scott and a panel all get tape of the conference and they watch coaches and plays. Then when they have officials’ meetings they bring up things that need to be watched more carefully or called more regularly. This was probably a point of emphasis throughout the season and Miller was probably brought up more than a couple times, so he’s who got singled out by Ed Rush.

Let’s be fair, most of that is on Miller and the other coaches for being a jerk during the game, but part of it’s on the officials for allowing them to do it to them all season. The goal of the Rush comment was just to say don’t take it from him when he crosses the line (with his antics or comments). Every time you let the coach get away with that you’re hurting the next guy who has to come officiate him or talk to him and it’s not fair to that guy. The message (though porous in tone and totality) got through and obviously Miller crossed a boundary. I would think that official would be thankful that he is backed up from the top for throwing it out and all the other officials should thank official X for pulling the trigger on it.

Believe what comments you will, this whole issue isn’t one that can just be “fired” away. Unfortunately, Miller isn’t the only problem and neither is Ed Rush.