Give credit where it’s due: Pac-12 officials got the championship game right

It was easy to envision a dumpster fire of an evening for the Pac-12 whereby its officials, in charge of the championship game, produced an outcome-altering gaffe that lowered the conference’s already low reputation.

Instead, we got the opposite:

We got a well-called game with only one instance of true controversy.

Credit referee Chris Coyte, his crew (below) and vice president of officiating David Coleman, who made the specific assignments.

Referee: Chris Coyte
Umpire: V. Francisco
Linesman: Darryl Johnson
Line judge: Dale Keller
Back judge: Joe Johnston
Field judge: Kevin Kieser
Side judge: Clay Reynard
Center judge: Jim Wharrie

They did well — much better, for sure, than the SEC officials in the Clemson-Ohio State semifinal.

We’ll give the crew a B+ while acknowledging that when it comes to a officiating, an A is unrealistic.

(So our B+ is really more like an A-.)

But the Hotline wanted a second opinion, so we reached out to the folks who run footballzebras, a respected website devoted to NCAA and NFL officiating.

Mark Schultz, an assistant editor, offered this commentary:

“The Pac-12 needed the officials to call a good game tonight and the officials called a great game. Aside from the usual handful of controversies, Coyte’s crew called an outstanding game. Gold stars for all!”

A few specifics, from our point of view:

1. It won’t be perfect. Never is, never will be.

The key is to avoid the egregious calls … the calls that require a pool reporter be sent to the officials’ lockerroom for an on-the-record explanation … the calls that generate headlines … the calls that become part of our memory of the game.

There were none of those Monday night.

Nor were there any instances of miscommunications or procedural errors or interminable replay delays.

Operationally, it was very smooth.

2. With egregious calls removed from the calculation, everything that remains is part of the standard package of no-calls and close calls and missed calls that we see every game, every week.

There were a handful of those Monday, and the Pac-12 crew missed two.

— The lesser of the two misses involved the replay booth not catching what should have been an out-of-bounds call on LSU tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the second quarter.

— The greater of the two misses was an offensive pass interference penalty on Clemson receiver Tee Higgins that negated a touchdown when Clemson trailed by 17 in the fourth quarter.

Higgins pushed LSU cornerback Kary Vincent, but Vincent pushed Higgins.

ESPN rules expert Bill LeMonnier thought the PI should have been on Vincent — and thus a touchdown for Clemson that would have positioned the Tigers for a potential rally.

Social media didn’t like the call.

Dabo Swinney really didn’t like the call.

It was controversial, and it was significant. But it didn’t clear the threshold for egregious; it wasn’t a call that we’ll be talking about for days and weeks, that will get tossed in the Pac-12’s face for eternity.

The crew absolutely got three key calls correct:

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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