Pac-12 com­mis­sioner: Er­rors made in re­play re­view pro­ce­dure

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

The Pac-12 will make im­me­di­ate changes to how video re­play re­views are han­dled af­ter Com­mis­sioner Larry Scott ad­mit­ted pro­ce­dural mis­takes were made when a tar­get­ing foul was not called dur­ing last month’s Wash­ing­ton StateSouth­ern Cal­i­for­nia game.

Scott re­sponded Thurs­day to a re­port on the re­view by Ya­hoo Sports that cited an in­ter­nal con­fer­ence doc­u­ment . The doc­u­ment showed a re­play of­fi­cial at the sta­dium be­lieved he and of­fi­cials work­ing at the league’s re­view com­mand cen­ter had been over­ruled by a Pac-12 ex­ec­u­tive on a tar­get­ing call against Wash­ing­ton State line­backer Lo­gan Tago on Sept. 21 at USC.

“We mixed ad­min­is­tra­tive over­sight and lead­er­ship with real-time re­play-re­view calls, made by ex­perts, on the field, in the sta­dium and in the com­mand cen­ter,” Scott said at Pac-12 bas­ket­ball me­dia day in San Fran­cisco. “More­over, we’ve al­lowed for am­bi­gu­ity about who’s got the fi­nal call and who makes the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sions in re­play re­view.”

The re­port said the re­play of­fi­cial at the game and the com­mand cen­ter agreed that, in ad­di­tion to the rough­ing the passer foul that was called on the field, a tar­get­ing penalty should also be en­forced. That would have re­sulted in the ejec­tion of Tago. The re­port said a “third party” did not agree and the tar­get­ing call was re­moved.

Scott ac­knowl­edged the third party was Woodie Dixon, the Pac-12’s gen­eral coun­sel and se­nior vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness af­fairs who also over­sees foot­ball. Dixon and di­rec­tor of of­fi­cials David Cole­man over­see the com­mand cen­ter though they are not nec­es­sar­ily there dur­ing games; Dixon of­ten at­tends games on Satur­days.

“It was not his in­ten­tion and he didn’t be­lieve he was mak­ing a de­ci­sion, he be­lieved he was try­ing to of­fer a point of view, an­gles on the call, try­ing to bring to­gether con­sis­tency with other calls that he wanted our re­play of­fi­cials to con­sider in mak­ing the de­ci­sions,” Scott said. “Hav­ing said that, it was clearly, from the re­play of­fi­cial in the sta­di­ums’ per­spec­tive and other peo­ple’s per­spec­tive, they clearly in­ter­preted it as a de­ci­sion or a direc­tive. From my per­spec­tive that’s enough. Even if it wasn’t in­tended and I’m con­fi­dent it wasn’t in­tended as he’s mak­ing the de­ci­sion.”

Scott said Dixon and Cole­man will not be in­volved in any more dis­cus­sion about calls be­ing made at the re­play re­view com­mand cen­ter.

This is the sec­ond sea­son the Pac-12 has used a re­play re­view com­mand cen­ter to as­sist on-field of­fi­cials and in-sta­dium re­play of­fi­cials dur­ing con­fer­ence games. The South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, Big 12 and At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence also use cen­tral re­view cen­ters.

Scott said the Ya­hoo re­port was new in­for­ma­tion to him and he has since spo­ken with the in­di­vid­u­als in­volved. He said the con­fer­ence will do a “thor­ough” re­view of how re­play re­view works.

The non-call on Tago was not even the most con­tro­ver­sial of the Wash­ing­ton StateUSC game. In the sec­ond half, USC line­backer Porter Gustin used the top of his hel­met to hit Wash­ing­ton State quar­ter­back Gard­ner Min­shew on the side of his hel­met. No flag was thrown on the field, and the re­play of­fi­cials, who can stop the game to re­view po­ten­tial tar­get­ing fouls missed on the field, did not chime in.

Scott was asked about that call last month and said it was a “very, very close one.”

The Pac-12, as with all con­fer­ences, does not make pub­lic its re­views and re­ports on game of­fi­ci­at­ing from week to week. Scott said that is not likely to change, but he is con­cerned about any per­cep­tion of lack of in­tegrity with of­fi­ci­at­ing.

“So I can’t tell you whether there will be longer term changes or not, but I feel like this is the most sig­nif­i­cant step I can make now to ac­knowl­edge that we made a mis­take in al­low­ing the sit­u­a­tion to de­velop, to al­low­ing any shred of con­cern about in­tegrity or am­bi­gu­ity,” he said. “I feel like it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to make the most sig­nif­i­cant change I can make right now to lift any cloud that might ex­ist even for the next games that we play start­ing Fri­day night.”

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