Latest Pac-12 officiating mess couldn’t have been handled worse

This never should have happened. 

Tony Corrente resigned as the coordinator of officiating for the Pac-12 Wednesday night and some people ought to be asking a lot of questions, while others need to be taking a long look at themselves in the mirror. 

Officially, the Pac-12’s release stated that Corrente resigned because of personal and professional reasons. But it goes much deeper than that. 

Being an official is a thankless job. Being a coordinator of officiating makes thankless look like a walk in the park. 

Listen, I get it. I understand the pressures that come with being a coordinator. I lived it for two years in the Western Athletic Conference and 12 years in the NFL as a supervisor of officials and vice president.

The heat comes from everywhere. 

From head coaches.

From athletic directors.

From the media.

And even from those within your own conference, including your own officials. 

So why should people be asking questions? Because Tony was the right man for the job, that’s why. Corrente had made tremendous strides in bringing credibility to the Pac-12 conference’s officiating program despite several controversial calls in the past few weeks that have brought so much negative attention to the program. No one in the history of officiating has worked harder than Corrente in an attempt to turn things around for the Pac-12. 

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Yet, halfway through his fourth season, Corrente walked out. And he was wrong in doing so, but I’ll get to that in a minute. 

To be completely transparent, Tony is a friend, who also happened to be the best man at my wedding. I have other ties as well. I was hired as a consultant in 2010 for the Pac-12 to take a look at the program. I had just come off a 12-year run at the NFL, where I was the supervisor and vice president of officiating. A lot of changes ended up being made, including the hiring of Corrente as a new coordinator.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: The Pac-12 wanted Corrente to stay. 

They had given him almost everything he asked for. The on-field officials and the replay officials in the Pac-12 are on par with the highest-paid officials in the country. They spent a ton of money upgrading their technology and hired two video operators to support it. They let him hire and fire at will. The one thing he didn’t get was the moral support — which is vital to this job.

Like I said, it was a mistake for Corrente to resign. 

I don’t care how bad things get — you don’t walk out halfway through the season. You can’t do that. You suck it up and do your job for the final seven weeks and then you do what you want. You don’t hang your officials out to dry along with your supervisors, who have worked tirelessly for over four years.

But there’s enough blame to go around for both sides. 

Corrente resigned because he felt the conference was going a bit overboard defending the complaints from coaches. And Corrente probably went a bit too far defending his officials.

Now let’s get to the coaches. I understand the pressure they’re under. It has to be incredible. But they are wildly inconsistent in their complaints. And some voices — like Stanford and Oregon — are much louder than others. Coaches are allowed to send in reports submitting plays to be reviewed by the coordinator. Often, they’re meaningless plays that are not fouls. They might technically be fouls, but that’s being generous. They’re calls nobody would want called except for the coach that submitted them. 

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Yet, if they don’t get the answer they want, they will go around the coordinator to one of the conference administrators. And that, my friends, is at the crux of the problem. 

That’s when the conference starts supporting the universities and the coordinator starts supporting his officials. So instead of being on the same page, they’re not even in the same book. If the two sides don’t put up a united front, trouble always follows.That is what led to Corrente’s resignation. 

It’s going to get a little crowded around the mirror for those looking to see who’s responsible for this mess. 

It starts with Corrente, for bailing out as coordinator halfway through the season and sending the message that it’s OK to quit when the going gets tough.

Up next is Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott for not recognizing the relationship between his staff and Corrente had reached the point that it did. In fairness, Corrente did not contact him before submitting his resignation.

And finally, some, not all, head coaches and athletic directors for wanting everything to go their way and for then pouting when it doesn’t. 

This never should have happened. So how do you keep it from happening again? Hire the right people, whose personalities mesh. Then get everybody not only in the same book, but on the same page in regards to how the game should be officiated.