Pac-12 officiating gets enough attention as it is, but that attention increased this week with the unexpected resignation of Pac-12 Coordinator of Officiating Tony Corrente.
"I think there is constantly a lot of focus on officiating in our conference and others," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "Certainly this week with Tony Corrente's departure there has been a lot of discussion about it. Understandably, it is unfortunate.
"I was surprised that he decided to resign in the middle of the season, but I had a couple of chance to speak to him since then and I certainly respect his decision for personal and professional reasons. It is a tough and thankless job being an official, let alone a coordinator of officiating. It’s not easy."
Before Corrente's resignation, Scott was happy with the direction the Pac-12 officiating was going in.
"We made some significant changes to our football officiating program a couple years into my role here," Scott said. "We made a change to our prior coordinator and brought in Mike Pereira, who had just come off being head of the NFL officiating to do an assessment of our program and make a bunch of recommendations. In fact, he was our interim coordinator for a year and helped us recruit Tony Corrente."
Scott does not believe that Corrente's departure will have a major effect on this year's overall officiating.
"Officiating will always be one of those things where there is imperfection," he said. "There will always be errors and we try to minimize those and improve. This year there has clearly been heightened focus and pressure and some discontent around the officiating, something we’re sensitive to.
"We will work with Jim Blackwood, who will be the interim coordinator. Jim was one of the seven supervisors that we had, he was in charge of our replay and he is a former NFL official as well. I think the transition will be fairly seamless, but we will take the opportunity at the end of the season to take a step back and focus on what we want in the next coordinator."
In addition to the public disdain for Pac-12 officials, it seems that the coaches have been more vocal as well.
"Mistakes get made," Scott said. "It’s definitely not perfect and there’s a lot riding on these games, there is a lot of pressure. I think the pressure is heightened in our conference from what it’s been. Given the depth and competitiveness in our conference now, every team thinks it can win every game.
"If you look at our games, almost every game up until this week comes down to the wire it seems. You also have the increased stakes with the college football playoffs. It has been a pressure cooker and I think that’s also contributed to a degree."
Still, Scott has received positive feedback about how the Pac-12 stacks up with other conferences.
"What we do is every year we ask the national coordinator to give us their perspective on officiating and they are looking at all the conferences and they are grading officials and they are making decisions about bowl assignments," he said.
"The feedback we have gotten has our officials grading out well compared to other conferences every year, which may be different from the fan perception. The objective third party assessment has been good about our officiating where it’s been going.
"I will never be satisfied with officiating, but I realize perfection is not attainable. I just think it is one of those things where we strive for constant improvement. I don’t think any commissioner would ever tell you they are satisfied with their officiating."