With a dominant performance over then-No. 20 BYU, Washington regained its spot atop Jon Wilner's Pac-12 power rankings.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott receives plenty of criticism when matters don’t unfold in optimal fashion for the conference, an all-too-frequent occurrence over the past 12 months, both on the fields (and courts) and off.
But rarely in his nine years has Scott been roasted as intensely as he was last week, in the wake of USC linebacker Porter Gustin’s controversial how-in-the-h-e-double-hockey-sticks-is-that-not-targeting hit on Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew.
If you’re not familiar with the situation, let’s recap:
GUSTIN WAS GUILTY OF TARGETING.
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Somehow, it wasn’t called.
Scott was asked about.
He said it wasn’t targeting, per the original AP report.
He was summarily roasted by social media and actual media, with no less a talking head than ESPN’s Desmond Howard tweeting to his 350,000 followers: “Do they drug test commissioners?”
Welp, it turns out Scott was torched unfairly.
This past Friday, prior to the UCLA-Colorado kickoff, Scott told assembled media at Folsom Field that his comments on the Pac-12’s officiating review process were incorrectly interpreted as confirmation that Gustin’s hit wasn’t targeting.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “my comments were interpreted to be saying that the conference had officially reviewed and I or the conference office had officially determined that it was a correct no call …”
One place Scott wasn’t criticized — and this might come as a surprise to many — was the Hotline.
I was too busy being confused by the situation:
• Baffled by the ruling itself.
The video clearly shows forcible contact: Gustin leads with the crown of his helmetinto the facemask of a defenseless player — the very definition of targeting.
(If you’re not going to call that, why call it, ever?)
• Stunned that Scott would speak publicly on a specific call/non-call.
Few topics are more precarious for commissioners, and oh-by-the-way it’s against conference policy to comment on officiating unless a penalty has been assessed.
• Perplexed by the timing of his assessment.
Gustin’s hit was delivered on a Friday night, while the AP report was based on comments Scott made Saturday … but the conference office does not review high-interest plays until Monday.
Scott could not have known on Saturday what had been determined, because that process was still two days away from being determined.
Then, for 72 hours, he was excoriated. A clarification came Friday at Folsom Field:
“What I sought to do was to explain that not only was that call reviewed, every call is reviewed, by replay in the stadium, replay at the command center back in San Francisco,” he explained.
“And just because a play isn’t stopped, and it’s not buzzed down, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t reviewed. And I commented that I checked to make sure that process had actually taken place, and it had.
“Unfortunately my comments were interpreted to be saying that the conference had officially reviewed and I or the conference office had officially determined that it was a correct no call, and that was the final word, and that’s not the case.”
So we’re left with three conclusions:
1) Scott was roasted for a comment he didn’t make.
2) He should probably think twice (or 10 times) before venturing into the treacherous waters of officiating, even if his intent is to explain the process.
3) The conference should consider a way to better inform fans and media about what is and isn’t targeting.
The Hotline suggests a tutorial be posted on Pac-12.com with David Coleman, the vice president of officiating, using videos and still shots from past instances to explain the rule. (I’d sure as heck watch it.)
The more education and transparency, the less chance targeting will dominate the narrative.
To the power ratings …