Monthly Archives: April 2013

On the Latest in the Pac-12 Officiating Story

In case you missed it, USA Today recently obtained documents surrounding the relationship between the University of Arizona (namely, Sean Miller and Greg Byrne) and the Pac-12 (namely, Ed Rush and Larry Scott).

Here is the article.

It’s an interesting read, one that I enjoyed mostly for its entertainment value. For me it highlighted that no one – regardless of title, fame, or prestige – is above the ridiculousness of interdepartmental communications and corporate speak:

“???? Do not see YOUR point.” – Ed Rush

“I will address his style with him to work on improvement in this area.” – Larry Scott

“…isn’t it part of Ed’s job to be the middle man between the officials and our coaches/programs?” – Greg Byrne

Not a quote but:

There is no indication Miller replied to the e-mail, which he forwarded without comment to Byrne.

In addition to the above nuggets of corporate goodness, we’ve been made privy to Miller’s response to his hefty fine. A penalty, it would appear, Miller had the opportunity to have rescinded if he just played the game a little more.

  • If Miller wrote a letter of apology to an unnamed Pac-12 staff member who was standing in the tunnel when the coach made what Scott described as a “profanity-laced verbal attack.”
  • If Miller agreed to meet with Rush and Scott by the end of April.
  • If the Arizona athletic department would “commit to developing a plan to work with Coach Miller on his conduct and reaction to situations like this, to ensure these incidents do not happen again.”

He didn’t.

Though he did write an apology note to the unnamed staffer which only served to raise the question of whether or not Sean Miller regularly directs tirades “toward a Pac-12 banner hanging in the tunnel area near our locker room.”

It also highlights the fact that I too hope to someday send an apology note with no apology and an accompanying a $25,000 check. Big league.

Now I just wonder what was in that check’s memo field…

Grant Jerrett Enters the NBA Draft

Grant Jerrett has made himself available to the 2013 NBA Draft. He spent one season in Tucson and scored 5.2 points per game and grabbed 3.6 rebounds per game. It was announced via school release late Wednesday night. Read it here.

Now this decision has surprised many. The numbers, size, and preparedness don’t quite scream league so much as they plead improve. What’s more is that this decision coupled with its supporting documents (stats, tempo-free stats, scouting report, scouting report), suggest the young man is making a poor choice.

Per DraftExpress’ Mock 2013 Draft (which Jerrett is not listed on) the average projected lottery pick put up 15 ppg and 7 rpg. The average projected draft pick (both rounds, excluding internationals)? 16 and 6. That’s a far cry from 5 and 3.

The NBA Draft is a futures bet, a choosing of the player one thinks has the best opportunity to eventually succeed. By that logic, Jerrett arguably has as good a shot as anyone to prove a worthy pick. Jerrett may have produced 11 fewer points and 3 fewer boards per game than the average pick, but who’s to say he won’t be a formidable pro with a few years under his belt?

He did, of course, score just five more points per game than Yi Jianlian’s chair.

Look, I don’t know if Grant Jerrett is ready for the NBA and neither do you. It also, unfortunately, appears that whoever he’s trusting for advice doesn’t either.

I also don’t know the full tale behind how this came to be and I won’t venture to know. I choose to trust that such life decisions are made under the auspices of best interest. Maybe some NBA team middling in this draft is head-over-heels for the kid? I don’t know. There would also appear to be a higher power at work here and not the one his mother alludes to in her tweeted/texted announcement. God isn’t going to help Grant here.

But what I do know is that Jerrett is gone and that Arizona Adam is pissed about it. I selfishly wanted this kid in Cardinal and Navy for another year. A dynamic stretch four getting dished to by TJ McConnell with a bevvy of league-caliber athletes attacking the rim with an additional footer beneath it? Yes, please.

Grant, my man, you were going to have a great time in Dallas next spring.

But Rational Adam (puh-lease, like there is one) urges me to take a step back and take a second look. Here’s an 18-year-old who has someone in one ear telling him he can fulfill his NBA dreams. That he can be playing with or against the likes of players who’ve adorned his walls.

Grant, they’re no longer posters on your wall, they’re your contemporaries.

In the other ear?

Stay in college. Don’t make money. Don’t live a lavish life of 24/7 hoop and luxury. Go to class. Grant, you’re not good enough.

Because ultimately we hear what we want to hear, right? This could very well be as simple as hearing “you’re good” vs. “you’re not good.” A gross simplification of the two arguments. Now, I’m not naive to think this boils down to something that elementary, but when it comes to our dreams, we no doubt have our filters.

I still remember the MLBPA prospect card a Mets scout once asked me to complete. I’d have signed away my 82mph fastball on the spot.

Back to Grant, I don’t want the door to hit him on his way out. My hope is that it remains open, a genuine gesture of Coach Miller’s Player’s Program. And while his time in Tucson was brief, the hope is that it prepared him for his next endeavor. After all, that’s the ultimate goal of college, no?

Which brings me to the point that’s most frustrated me about this process. Without diving into the oft-visited NCAA criticism rabbit hole, players should get to attend NBA draft camps. It’s like an internship. It’s no different than a math major passing a summer crushing excel at an I-Bank only to discover she isn’t cut out for that crap.

Go. Learn and be amongst your contemporaries and get a professional evaluation from the people who are professionally evaluating you anyways. That is fair. That is just.

As it is today, kids, coaches, advisors and whoever the hell else is involved are left to guess work. As an outsider, I’m left to judge Grant Jerrett’s draft prospects on 5.2 and 3.6. Thirty-four games against the best competition he’s ever faced.

Give these kids a chance to succeed as opposed to the opportunity to fail.

I’ll maintain this isn’t the best decision for Grant Jerrett. And it also doesn’t seem to be completely his decision. Come to your own conclusions at this, but his agent to be, Brian Dyke, is the brother-in-law of his High School coach and the father of recent Arizona de-commit, Eric Cooper Jr. Dyke has represented just two NBA players.

None of it seems to stack up too neatly but I hope he succeeds. I always have.

I’m just bummed to see him do it in a different jersey.

On Boston

There was a race, two explosions, pain, death, and fear.

These are the facts I know regarding what transpired Monday in Boston. After that it’s conjecture, assumption, and projection of the fifth fact – fear – most commonly manifested in anger. Furthermore, its abundantly clear we do not know who is responsible for this monstrosity. As of now, that doesn’t matter.

There are too many people to care for to be upset, to point fingers, to be angry.

These are complicated matters and I’m not about to tell anyone how to digest this. But I can and I hope to offer some solace. Some semblance of understanding that while this event is horrific, our first fact – that there was a race – has allowed me to remember that there is good.

Because perhaps the Boston Marathon can serve as its own metaphoric silver lining? A reminder that while running is an individual sport, it’s a universal celebration. Victory on the course is not exclusive to the podium. The winners aren’t determined by who finished behind them, but rather by finishing at all.

As I watched video of the explosions Monday, I couldn’t help but notice how many people moved towards the scene, the bib numbers reversing course to help. They moved that way to ensure that anyone there – a marathoner or otherwise – could finish their race. So everyone could have their shot at being a winner.

In that horrifying moment, those after, and the days to come I’ll choose to remember that this is indeed a race. The human kind.

A perpetrator will be found and blame attributed, truths of justice we can and often do find consolation in. This is no doubt an integral part of these processes. As of now, we don’t know their intent. As of now, it doesn’t matter. As of now, there are too many people to care for.

Too many people in the race to help to victory.

EXCLUSIVE: The Ed Rush-Michael Irving Exchange

Video has been released from inside the officials’ meeting prior to the UCLA-Arizona Pac-12 tournament semifinal game. Footage includes intimidation tactics and the controversial comments made by Ed Rush that were later determined to have been made in jest. This footage is exclusive to PacHoops.

The Ed Rush – Michael Irving Exchange
by: pachoopsab


Waxing Seniority: They’re Gone

I’ll miss them. You will, too. And with the wrap of this season, reality has sunk in that some of our favorites will move on. Cue the Vitamin C, it’s graduation time.

And this crop of seniors saw some stuff. They endured but did not define one of the worst stretches in Pac-12 hoops there’s ever been. By way of historical context I have none. But anecdotally can you tell me I’m wrong? These seniors saw the winner of their conference not play in the NCAA tournament. The Pac-12 was bad.

But they won’t be defined by this period of ineptitude. They’ll be defined by the fight we saw and the resilience we cheered. As a slew of fantastic writers boasted of their favorite seniors’ careers (all below), I was reminded that we’re not always fans for the wins and losses. We’re drawn to the human components of this game, the universal truths that we all struggle in an effort to succeed. Which is why it was so rewarding to see EJ Singler in his first Big Dance. And Solomon Hill lead down the home stretch. And see Brock Motum score 79 points in his final three games. And see the career transformation of Larry Drew II. And Joe Burton play the role of cultural ambassador.

Maybe they didn’t win any titles and reached just a single Elite 8 collectively, but they were the seniors of our teams and sometimes that’s about all we need to be a fan.

The 2012-13 Pac-12 Seniors – or at least those who were so kindly discussed by those who follow them closest for the Waxing Seniority series:

The Rush Interview and Independent Review

“I was trying to make a difference. In the long run, it’s going to take too long to get back to where we were.”

That was the reason Rush resigned and I get that. Beyond that he doesn’t say much in his exclusive frump-off with Shelly Smith. Seriously they look like twins.

In the interview, Rush downplays the entire incident, confirming that what he said was in jest. Additionally, he doesn’t once mention the purveyor of jest, Michael Irving, which I found refreshing considering he’d previously been tossing the official under the bus immediately following his resignation.

As expected, there’s really not a ton to see here but you can watch/listen below.

So while Rush’s interview was the sexy news (and yes, I use the word “sexy” in jest, though it was the more intriguing news) the real news came in the conference’s announcement of an “Independent Review” of the officiating program. This is what I’d been calling for and it’s a step in the right direction. Rush nailed it when he said we’re a long way from getting to a good place – we’ll call it trust – but third parties tend to help in that. Ask any couple in counseling.

And I most certainly appreciated this release above all others from Walnut Creek surrounding The Issue. In this one, the Pac-12 PR team used words like “best possible” and “maintain the confidence of our members.” The latter comment might be my favorite. An acknowledgment that Conference brass let its constituents down. That’s leadership.

Of course this is all pretty language of which action speaks far louder than. But it’s the first action in getting the best officiating product for our favorite game. I’ll buy that during this long road back to trust.


Al Michaels’ Question: On Miracles

Years ago, as the US hockey team skated out the clock en route to the greatest upset in sports history, Al Michaels jubilantly asked if we believed in miracles. It was a rhetorical question. One that he’d quickly and further jubilantly answer for himself. Subsequently, movies were made, legends born, and history written.

We’ve heard the stories of Eruzione, O’Callahan, Brooks and the other heroes. But it’s Michaels’ call, that iconic inquiry, that is perhaps most familiar, “Do you believe in miracles?”

A simple question but there’s a reason it serves as the springboard by which we tell this tremendously unfathomable story. Just a fistful of words from the mouth of a 36-year-old during a tape-delayed broadcast. That is what unceremoniously defines America’s greatest athletic achievement. Why?

It’s often confounded me as to what draws us to that hectic outburst. Why it’s revered and recognized, a staple in the lexicon of sport.

The game stands on it’s own merit – you know the story so no need to re-hash. And it’s easy to say that we love, for that brief moment, Michaels stepping out of his broadcaster role and into the seat of a fan. Utterly berserk was the accomplishment, berserk was the call. It no doubt fits the moment.

But something about the question is bigger – if that’s even possible – than the outcome on the ice.

You see, we want to believe. No matter the odds, hurdle, mountain, obstacle, or path, we need to believe. Michaels’ call sits so comfortably with us because he wasn’t asking if we believed in the miracle of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team. He was asking why we were even watching in the first place.

Because we want to sit in front of the television and believe that the Louisville Cardinals were able to flex their fortitude that much fiercer because Kevin Ware was with them while he wasn’t.

We want to believe that Spike Albrecht scored 43% of his season’s points – including 17 in the national championship game – during March Madness, because he, along with national POY, Trey Burke, refused to let the Wolverines return to Ann Arbor sans hardware.

We want to believe that Peyton Siva would perform on the biggest stage in the biggest moments because he’d endured four-long years, regular criticism, and some trying tournament losses. On that stage, Peyton scored 18-points (the most he’d scored in 2013). He grabbed six rebounds, assisted on five baskets, and swiped four Maize possessions.

We want to believe in competition like we saw last night. While so many of us didn’t have a dog in that fight, we were the fight. Our own miracles falling victim to Buckeyes or Illini or Gophers or any of an assortment of other mascots who endured on. Because the fight itself, and one of that caliber, allows us to further believe for one more night.

To believe that Chane Behanan can grab six of the game’s final eleven rebounds. That Luke Hancock can individually outscore the Wolverines 14-1 late in the first half to remind us just how sensitive the finality of this game is.

My dog wasn’t in Atlanta Monday night, but I got to see everything that it could be, should be, and that we want it to be.

No, the miracle Michaels was referencing didn’t necessarily center on the metaphoric defeat of a political philosophy. But somehow that perfect question embodied equal parts political demise, athletic triumph, and the beauty of competition that we embrace from the stands, as fans. Do we believe in miracles, Al? We better. It might be the best shot we got.

What transpired last night embodied it all. Because we didn’t know what was going to happen. We can’t predict the Albrechts or the Wares or the Hancocks. Poetic justice won’t always be served.

But on those rare and beautiful occasions when things do shake out poetically – the shot falls and the senior delivers – we believe a little more. We have to for that one victory we all want.

On a Monday night.

In a football stadium.

In April.

Ed T. Rush is Out. Now the Answer.

Ed Rush has left his post as the Coordinator of Officials with the Pac-12 Conference. It came via official release from the conference late Thursday afternoon (evening if anyone on the east coast pays attention to this stuff) and informed us that Larry Scott had accepted the controversial and rushed resignation.

And the world rejoiced.

I saw tweets of “bout time” and “good” and “HEGONE” and all sorts of celebratory remarks which I’m just not all that in to. Sure I contributed to the dialogue of his dismissal/resignation/firequitting but calling for heads has never sat well with me. As it were, we got the result we wanted.

So now what?

We don’t have much out of Walnut Creek and we likely won’t for awhile. The replacement hunt will be played close to the chest and will be a hire not made in jest.

What we do have from Scott is the release. The one in which Rush’s resignation was announced, accepted, and never really explained. That’s fine. We are owed no explanation and let’s get serious – we all know why this went down. The imperative thing here is that trust is restored. That all of this speak of “integrity” and “honor” and other things Jack Nicholson spouted off about in A Few Good Men is more than lip service and not used as a punchline.

Which brings me to the most important part of Scott’s release: The end.

Scott said a process to select a new officiating coordinator will be part of the overall program review that had already been scheduled for after the college basketball season.

I have no idea what that means. Neither do you. Hell, for all we know, neither does Scott. But he’s the one who will be hiring for this review and it’s a damn important one. Trust, as I said, will need to be reinstalled. Which is never an easy thing if you’ve ever tried getting back together with a significant other. Actually it painstakingly sucks. Work like hell is involved but it can happen. Change must happen.

But I can’t stress enough that the next move is the most important one. The conference can pull the densest PR veil they’ve got over our eyes, I still believe we’ll see right through this. Some transparency, a declaration of change, ought to be forthcoming. I expect to see a new Coordinator settle things down with a defined plan. A new plan. Because things are pretty shaken up already.

Ed T. Rush resigned amidst the swirling upset stirred by his joke and the subsequent coincidental action taken. He’s out and we got what we think we wanted.

But Rush’s departure is not the answer.

Fixing his wake is.

The Last Eleven McDonald’s All-American Game MVPs






2005 (works?)

























More on the Pac-12’s Stripes

It quickly became the biggest story in the Pac-12 if not the world of sports. Jeff Goodman hit publish and sent dialogue into a frenzy surrounding what’s already considered a crummy slew of Pac-12 officials. Larry Scott and Ed T. Rush have taken heat and addressed it with little more than a handheld extinguisher.

That’s my f****** problem (A$AP Rocky voice).

As you might expect, I spent a good portion of my day discussing the fact that next year TJ McConnell will have four teammates all over 6’8” to dish to and who are projected to play in the NBA; a glorious image in the wake of Aaron Gordon’s commitment to Arizona this officiating situation. It sparked a long debate with a buddy of mine during which I’m not sure either of us was making a concrete point beyond the fact that we agreed Ed Rush had to go.

I was arguing that it just needs to happen. I don’t care the logistics, the buyout, the fallout, the wrongful termination suits, whatever, HEGONE. The more I thought on this and the more I read opinion on the matter, it became increasingly clear to me that Rush’s actions – no matter their intent – we inexcusable and put too many people in compromising positions with regards to their job. Andy Glockner alluded to it, basically saying every call one way or another could and would be rightfully questioned.

The other side of my discussion didn’t disagree with these points. Brad agreed that Rush needed to go but he was diving into the logistics of it; after all, Brad is a lawyer. He was mentioning possible contract buy outs or the review period Larry Scott had referenced in an ESPN interview. Rush most certainly was on his way out, Brad just understood that the PR nightmare this had become was not about to be assuaged by firing the guy 24-hours after the whistle was blown. What’s more, the message had already been sent in support of Rush, citing “jest” and that it “won’t happen again.”

We ultimately never really went anywhere with the conversation because neither of us would really listen to the other.


Brad: NOTYETNOTYETNOTYETNOTYET. Review period/PR Nightmare/Legal jargon

But it did propagate the discourse and the conclusion I’ve come to is that indeed Ed T. Rush needs to be fired.

But it’s not imperative.

Dismissing Rush solves nothing. It’s change for the sake of change and as we’re learning in the wake of Ben Howland’s departure and the subsequent hiring of Steve Alford, such action doesn’t always garner the desired or expected reaction.

Because everything surrounding Rush right now is reactionary. It’s all perception and it’s all message. I whole heartedly believe that there is no corruption in the Pac-12 Officials office but that is today’s perception. The removal of Rush won’t change that and Scott’s comments have done little to assuage these beliefs. As is always the case, action speaks louder than words and measures need to be put into place to ensure players, coaches, managers, athletic directors, PA announcers, popcorn vendors, media, directors of basketball operations, fans, SIDs, grandmothers, second cousins, one-night-stands, and everyone else can rest assured that games are being called fairly and by the best possible and prepared persons.

I do not believe this is resolved via firing alone. Hell, keep him around, it doesn’t really matter that much if there isn’t a significant investment made to ensure the improvement of this program. If Scott is sincere in stating, “I consider the integrity of our officiating program to be of the highest importance…” then he’ll take action.

Firing Ed Rush might make us feel better – a strange acceptance within the worlds of sports and public figures in which the calling of heads is celebrated – but it doesn’t solve anything.

You won’t quite find the direct resolution on these pages. Officiating development is not my area of expertise – come to think of it, I’m not sure what my area of expertise is. But I do know that money, time, and focus speak loudly. That with their powers combined improvement will be made and confidence instilled. Officiating is a tough job and will forever be criticized and chastised. But as Ben Burrows points out in his reaction to this news (and then outlines his actions on this situation) these guys are overworked and overscheduled and are held to little accountability. They’re also, evidently, bullied by their boss. It’s an imperfect craft, officiating a sporting event, but let’s start cutting out variables.

Creating a program that you’re proud of, an officiating corps worthy of upholding the moniker “Conference of Champions,” doesn’t begin with an axe, it starts an action.

Larry Scott, I implore you to take it.