Canzano: Upon further review, the Pac 12 Conference now has a trust issue

I won’t blame Pac 12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott if he breaks a tennis racket or something this morning. He woke up to what amounts to a really bad day. One that I don’t see how he escapes without letting someone at the conference office go today. 

Hey, look. The Pac 12 Conference has done some absurd things in recent years. Maddening stuff. For example, they’ve kicked off games at bedtime. Also, the conference television network is a joke. Also, the officiating has been routinely suspect. Also, the Pac 12 football teams went 1-8 in the last bowl season. But nothing tops what was uncovered in the wake of the USC-Washington State game a few weeks ago. And for that, Scott may finally have to answer for something.

A document obtained by Yahoo Sports undermines the very fabric of competition, raises questions about player safety and makes the conference look like it’s an even bigger mess than any of us imagined.

This all relates to the final play of the third quarter of the Trojans-Cougars game on Sept. 21. USC quarterback JT Daniels dropped to a knee on the play, and after a pause, he was met by WSU linebacker Logan Tago, who showed up impersonating a missile and initiated helmet-to-helmet contact. The play drew a flag for roughing the passer and a review for targeting.

Again, Daniels got hit in the head.

While on a knee.

The in-stadium replay officials thought it was targeting. The Pac 12 Conference command center in the Bay Area agreed it was targeting. Your living room probably did, too. But according to the internal replay report, obtained by Yahoo Sports, a third party overruled everyone. The targeting call was waved off and Tago stayed in the game. And if the person who filled out the replay report — Gary McNanna — hadn’t indicated, “unfortunately a third party did not agree” with the call, nobody would have known a thing. But McNanna did. So here we are.

That “third party,” according to the story is a man named Woodie Dixon.

What? You were expecting Vladimir Putin? Me too. But nope.

Dixon is an attorney. He’s a Harvard Law graduate. He’s a husband and father. He’s worked for the Kansas City Chiefs as general counsel. He’s even worked at a law school, teaching as an adjunct professor. I’m sure he loves football. But what he isn’t is an official with any kind of training. So why in the world is Dixon involved in overruling a line of people who are?

That’s a question Scott must answer. He has to do it quickly. Without making excuses or digging himself a deeper hole. Because the statement Scott released to Yahoo Sports, waiving the whole thing off as a misunderstanding, just won’t cut it. The report is a smoking gun. If Dixon really did overrule both the conference command center and the in-stadium replay officials, he needs to be the EX-general counsel of the conference by sundown. 

That’s the only way Scott recovers and wiggles out of this.

The perception already exists that the conference operates with a band of inferior officials. It’s become a rallying cry for the losing teams. Also, the perception exists, fair or not, that the conference hasn’t positioned itself well in major college football. No College Football Playoff team last season and likely again this season. The television deal, also, nets each conference member about $11 million less annually on average than the SEC counterparts between now and 2024. That’s a $66 million disadvantage for every single Pac 12 member. The public has accepted all of the above. But now, I think we have a deal breaker. 

The conference’s lawyer phoning in to overrule the entire process that the Pac 12 established for reviewing a potential targeting call? Now, you’ve just made all the other problems look and feel secondary. So congrats, commish. On the bright side, nobody is going to bitch about DirecTV this week. 

The Pac 12 Conference has a trust issue. Every call that is reviewed now comes with a murmur. How about we get our hands on the Oregon-Stanford game report and take a look? How about the Utah-Washington report? Where does it end? Probably never. Which is why the Pac 12 can not hesitate.

Again, Scott is denying there’s a third party involved here. He’s calling it a misunderstanding. But McNanna, who was the replay official in the booth, wrote very clearly in his report: “Both the replay booth and the command center agreed this was a targeting foul, but unfortunately a third party did not agree so the targeting was removed and we went with the ruling on the field of [roughing the passer] with no targeting. This didn’t play well on TV. Reversed my stoppage for [targeting] to not [targeting].”

Basically, upon further review, the conference has a trust problem.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *