First thing’s first … yeah, I got this one right.
Speaking of USC, Lane Kiffin was fined $10,000 – roughly what Robert Woods and Matt Barkley make in monthly $100 handhsakes – for his comments about Pac 12 officiating.
Kiffin has now said, he’s not going to discuss the officials anymore:
"I am sorry that all this happened and I have learned from it. Regardless of anything, I can't answer anything that has to do with a call during a game or any conversation that an official has with me."
Well, Lane, I think you can talk about them, but calling them liars probably isn’t a good idea, even if they are liars. Somehow, you had to think that Larry Scott might find that inappropriate.
That being said, the officiating in the Pac 12 is travashamockery.
There is no consistency from crew to crew in what is and what isn’t a penalty. The replay reviews take forever. Who is running these reviews in the box? I bet its like watching my dad trying to figure out a DVR.
“Where do you put tape in?”
Scott has done a lot of things in making the Pac 12 better, particularly getting the conference away from Fox Sports and ROOT sports was paramount to visibility and my sanity.
But the officiating needs to be fixed.
They did a good job by firing about half the officials from last year. Think about if we were still inundated with that ineptitude. But the conference needs to invest some money into training for the guys that they kept. Also referees with consistently poor ratings – believe it or not, they are graded during games – should not be allowed to work. Do you really want a subpar referee working next week’s Oregon-Stanford game?
Let’s not kid ourselves, college football is a business, and millions of dollars are on the line in some of these games when it comes to bowl bids. So do you really want to leave major decisions that affect the outcome of the game to some guy that should really be working the Tenino-Onalaska game instead?
Also, there seems to be no accountability from the officials. The conference has gone above and beyond protecting them from criticism. Scott and head of officiating Tony Corrente often refuse to comment on mistakes being made. Realistically, when errors are made, the conference needs to get out in front of them, by acknowledging that they occurred and what sort of steps are being taken to correct it. Instead, it’s a wall of silence as if referees are somehow above criticism.
Nobody is asking for a public be-heading.
Think about the Nate Fellner hit, which was clearly a legal hit by definition, and yet flagged for a 15-yard penalty.
Scott or Corrente should have come out this statement.
“We are aware that a mistake was made in calling a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The referee thought that the defensive player led with his head. But upon reviewing the film, a mistake was made.”
Now is that so difficult?Nothing drives fans more insane than a lack of accountability from referees. Most of them are paranoid anyway and think it’s all one big conspiracy.
How bad is officiating been in Pac 12 football? It's almost as bad as the officiating in Pac 12 basketball. And I don't think any of us thought that was possible.
This week's get your blood pumping on gameday song ...
Stanford (-21) at Oregon State
So in any other year, you would point to this game and think, hey, the Beavers might shock the world. Look at the circumstances: Stanford is coming off a physically and emotionally draining double overtime win over USC a week ago, underrated but valuable H-back Zach Ertz will be out for the game, oh and there’s a sort of important football game next weekend in the land of the unwashed against Oregon. So surely, this is a trap game, right?
This isn’t a typical Oregon State team. The Beavers lost to Utah. UTAH! The same Utah team, who is starting a Division II quarterback. Even more disgusting, OSU scored just eight points. Now you might say, well, Utah is leading the Pac 12 in defense, and I will counter with – Utah doesn’t play Stanford and Oregon this season and played USC in the second game of the year. So forgive me for thinking that OSU should have managed more than eight points against the fourth-coming of the ’85 Bears defense.
Simply put, the Beavs don’t have the horses to pull off the upset against Stanford.
Former Foss standout and OSU defensive end Scott Crichton, who leads the Pac 12 in tackles for loss as a true freshman, said this: 'We're the only ones that think we can win. No one else believes it'
Yep, that’s pretty much true. It’s not necessarily a slight on OSU. It’s more of a recognition of how well Stanford is playing right now. Then again, I also didn’t believe OSU could beat Washington State either.
This week’s gratuitous praise of Andrew Luck by the opposing coach:
"You start with his record, and the resurgence of Stanford football since he was recruited by Harbaugh,'' said OSU head coach Mike Riley. "He (Luck) has really changed the dynamics of that whole program. From when he came, to where they are now, it's been pretty impressive.''The pick
… Luck isn’t going to let his team lose. I think we figured that out last weekend in Los Angeles. Stanford is too veteran, too focused, too talented to slip up against significantly inferior team.
If I we’re a betting man … I’d give the 21 points. Before last weekend, Stanford covered the spread in all their games. It’s time to start a new streak this week.
Washington State at California (-9)
My best prediction for this game – a combined nine interceptions between the two quarterbacks. Really, I look at this game, and I have no idea. Both teams have looked good-to-decent at times this season. Both teams have looked craptastic a little more often this season.
I have friends who are Cal fans, and Zach Maynard’s sporadic accuracy and baffling decision-making have them talking crazy and turning off their Grateful Dead bootlegs just three minutes into a 12-minute song. You really have no idea what’s going to happen when he drops back to pass. He might throw a brilliant pass to half-brother Keenan Allen. He might throw the ball 12 yards straight into the ground on a 20-yard pattern, or he might just throw it to the other team. In fact, it seems like the only time a person catching a Maynard pass doesn’t break stride is when it’s a player from the opposing team.
And Marshall Lobbestael?
Well, he hasn’t been bad considering the circumstances. He throws for plenty of yards and has taken plenty of hits. But at some point, you have to quit prefacing the fact that he’s the backup. He’s basically been the starter all season, so that excuse is done. And come on, you can’t loft a ball into a double coverage in the red zone against Oregon and expect good things to happen. It would be like walking into The Coug and asking for a Cosmopolitan, or looking for a restaurant in Pullman that’s open past 10 p.m. You just don’t do those things.
Remember when Cal coach Jeff Tedford was the next big thing and the quarterback guru? Yeah, neither do Cal fans.
The pick … I have thought about this game and I can’t make up my mind. I’m like Maynard facing third down and 11 with the opposing team’s dime package on the field: confused, antsy and likely to do the wrong thing. I’m going to take the Cougs in this game if for no other reason than “The Coug.” Any place that sells bottles of Boone’s is a place I want to go to.
If I we’re a betting man … Even if I had taken Cal, I’m taking those points. All it takes is one wayward pass and the spread is crushed.
Utah at Arizona (-4)
On the surface, it would seem as though Utah’s pass defense – ranked third in the Pac 12 – would be a great match-up against Arizona’s Nick Foles, who leads the Pac 12 in passing at 366 yards per game.
But my friends, looking at numbers and stats on the surface can get you into trouble. I mean on the surface, my 4,356 phone calls to a phone number I was told belonged to Minka Kelly seemed worthy of that restraining order. But really, I was just calling to console her after being dumped by Derek Jeter.
Anyway, sure the fact that Utah is allowing 234 yards passing per game is a nice little stat. But dig a little deeper and you’ll notice that against two legit quarterbacks – Keith Price and Brock Osweiler – the Utes pass defense isn’t quite so stout. Price completed 22 of 30 passes and threw for three touchdowns, while the Huskies basically stopped throwing in the fourth quarter. Osweiler threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Even BYU’s Jake Heaps, who was benched this season for inconsistency, threw for 345 against Utah.
Why is the stat low? Well, it helps when Pitt throws for only 50 yards in a game. How terrible is the Big East? We are talking Tim McCarver analyis terrible.
As I said above, Utah has the easiest schedule in the Pac 12 with no Stanford or Oregon on their schedule, so any and all defensive numbers are skewed.
The pick … So with my ranting about Utah’s defense overrated, surely I will be taking Arizona. And you would be correct. Yes, Arizona’s offensive line is terrible. And Foles will take far too many hits. But, the Wildcats will score against Utah. And if the game devolves into a shootout, the Utes don’t have the QB to keep up.
If I we’re a betting man … the line started with Arizona as a 1.5 point favorite. And now it’s moved up a few points. Those good people of Utah are betting that money on the Utes apparently. Well, it’s money they should have spent at the Pie Pizzeria or the Red Iguana for some quality food.
Arizona State (-8.5) at UCLA
Will somebody just put the Bruins out of their misery? Each week, you think they are done, you think Rick Neuheisel is already packing his guitar and law school degree into a box and TJ Simers writing his obituary on the season. And yet like former cast members of the Real World, the Bruins just won’t go away.
Mathematically, the Bruins can still win the Pac 12 South with a win over Arizona State. Then again, the Mariners aren’t usually mathematically eliminated until August, but we all know they are done in June.
We all thought UCLA was done when Arizona stomped them in a nationally televised Thursday night game. Then the next week Kevin Prince figured out something about himself – he’s not a very good passer – so he ran for more than 150 yards and the Bruins beat Cal. Of course, it helps when Zach Maynard (see above) gifts you four interceptions.
In past years, you would think the Sun Devils and their ADD/psychotic tendencies would be susceptible to such an upset. They are on the road, they are playing well, and they are expected to win so of course they will fall flat on their face.
But this ASU team is a little different. Brock Osweiler is just a different type of quarterback and leader. Why? Because he’s from MONTANA. He understands what needs to be done, and the loss at Illinois showed him how to play when things don’t work right.
Oh, and did I mention that UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria, who has all of 16 catches – though four for touchdowns, said this about Vontaze Burfict:
“He’s another guy. I played him in high school, I don’t think he’s anything special at all. I’m not going to pump him up too much. His game is more of a mind game. I’m not going to knock him, he’s a great player. He’s led his team, his defense to some good wins and the top of the Pac-12 South. But on Saturday, he’s just No. 7.”
Really? You are going to poke the bear? Let’s take the psycho guy, who’s been subdued all season, and try and help him find his crazy.
I feel like this may happen to you …
The pick … I’m trusting Arizona State not to play like Arizona State of the past. I’m trusting that my fellow Montanan will play well. I’m trusting that ASU will keep its penalties to around 10. I’m trusting Burfict will go Waterboy on UCLA.
If I we’re a betting man … Man, 8.5 is a lot of points. Too many? Perhaps. But if ASU starts pounding UCLA early, we could see a repeat performance of the Thursday night debacle. I will give them.