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.

9 thoughts on “More on the Pac-12’s Stripes

  1. One thing I haven’t seen in the reporting of the story is any talk of how truly disrespectful Sean Miller is to the refs. Is there any question that Miller is the worst coach in conference with respect to the treatment of officials? Throughout every game, he constantly storms up and down the sideline (jumping out on to the court), cursing and berating officials for every single call that supposedly goes against Arizona. He drops F bombs all the time and treats every call as if the refs are cutting off one of his fingers. He’s almost as bad as Calipari and I bet every single coach in the conference would agree with me.

    Do you think the refs were singling Miller out for no reason? No, he has a long history of loudly berating anyone who dared call a foul against one of his players. He’s acting like a little whiny bitch now.

    1. You bring up a good point that this is not a black and white affair. Sean Miller no doubt rides the refs. Is he the worst in the conference? I dunno…Mike Montgomery has a long history with officials and I’d venture to say that most coaches aren’t having drinks with the officials post-game.

      Miller hasn’t commented on this and he likely won’t. He’ll probably keep collecting 5-star commitments.

      The overarching point here, however, is if Miller is indeed the worst, ADDRESS THE ISSUE! Don’t joke about it and expose yourself to this sort of scrutiny. Talk to the guy. Tell him he’d better tone it down or he’s indeed will get “rung up” or “ran.” That’s how these things are handled. Not in the manner in which this has gone down. This isn’t a “coaches berating refs” issue. It’s a leadership dilemma.

      1. C’mon everybody is entitled to joke around. I read what was said in the ref meeting and if you are unable to interpret “$5,000 and a trip to Mexico” as a joke, then you are dim. I guarantee that this statement was met with laughs from all of the refs in attendance. If anything, it serves to highlight the general consensus that the refs have about Miller: he is a boorish crybaby that repeatedly crosses the line during games.

        I’m sure the refs have talked to Miller about his behavior many, many times. But something tells me that his actions won’t change regardless. He is who he is.

        I also think this is only a story because the team involved is Arizona. Can you imagine the story making headlines if Oregon State was the offended party?

        1. 100% a referee being offered – jokingly or not – rewards for actions that then occur would be news. Doesn’t matter if it’s Arizona or Grambling State (0-28). Officiating controversies are going to blow up…Always.

          As for jokes…it’s all fun and games until someone thinks it’s not a joke. Enter: Michael Irving.

          If he’s a notorious ref-basher and he is who he is then: 1) Address it prior to the third-to-last-game of the year, 2) Tell him he’s on thin ice, 3) DON’T MAKE A MOCKERY OF YOURSELF.

          1. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. He touched the ball. Guys… He touched the ball!

  2. Didn’t Miller get a warning earlier in that exact same game? Hasn’t he had conflicts with the refs after a game multiple times now.

    I also remember a league-wide warning, either issued last year or the year before, that addressed the hostility directed to referees. I believe it specifically pointed to Miller and Altman, who are by far the worst offenders.

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