5 reasons why WSU bowl game refs won't suck

AN SEC OFFICIATING CREW will be calling the Gildan New Mexico Bowl when Washington State and Colorado State kick off the college bowl season on Saturday. That should be cause for celebration, right?

There are plenty of SEC teams and fans who have complained long and loud about the officiating in their games this year. Plus, in order to present full disclosure: we wanted to entitle this column, "5 reasons why WSU bowl game refs won't suck… as much" but we ran out of room.

But that said, Pac-12 fans don't think they have the worst officials in college football. They know it. And they've come to that iron-clad conclusion over many, many years. We're right there with them. And so we present the following list:

5 reasons why WSU bowl game refs won't suck… as much

No. 5: The SEC refs called the second-fewest penalties of the six conference crews.
In a stunning turnaround this season, Pac-12 officials were "only" the fourth-most flag happy crews among the six BCS conferences. But chalk it up as the aberration that proves the rule.

We're confident the Pac-12 zebras will regain their rightful place at the top of the heap next season, since the Pac-12 crews were the most whistle-happy in college football in 2012.

Indeed, according to Jon Solomon of al.com, five Pac-12 teams last year ranked among the most-penalized teams in the country, and 11 of the conference's 12 schools were in the upper half for most penalties. It's hard to be that perfect.

It's also worth noting that midway through the 2013 season, the Pac-12 refs were leading the nation in flags. Perhaps a word or three from the powers-that-be sometime in October resulted in a mid-year course correction?

No. 4: This kind of ending won't be repeated in the New Mexico Bowl.
Sure, there are tons of missed calls and questionable decisions from the multitude of college football games this season that fans have labeled as egregious.

But ask anyone what the No. 1 absolute worst officiating job was this season was and it's no contest. That honor belongs to the Pac-12, for THIS.

No. 3: The trash around University Stadium won't be heaved at the officials as they leave the playing field.
Fans in the stadium sometimes let their emotions get the better of them. Alas, pelting officials with paper, pretzels and produce only makes things worse.

It's a virtual lock these Cougars' fans, and the Rams' supporters, won't be behaving badly in Albuquerque.

No. 2: New Mexico Bowl officials won't have to issue a statement on controversial officiating after the game.
Larry Scott has been a home run for the Pac-12 in a myriad of ways. But no one is perfect, and Scott's continued insistence that Pac-12 football officiating has vastly improved over the last four years strains credulity, as evidenced by the number of times Scott has had to issue statements after controversial penalties and non-calls.

There will be missed calls on Saturday – it's impossible not to have some. Plus, bowl game officials often take pains to "let the players play." And there have been and will continue to be bowl games where they err too far in that direction.

But if you're absolutely going to err, that's the side to err on.

No. 1: The Glasses Man will not be in Albuquerque There are some good individual officials in the Pac-12. But they are overshadowed by the sheer scope of the overall problem. And you might think with all the poor officiating it would be impossible to tab one crew as the worst. Not true.

We've have been told he is a good man and we have no doubt that's true. But there is no Pac-12 official who has had his name associated more, and rightly so, to the term, "incompetent" than Jay Stricherz. And the same holds true for his crew.

There's not enough time or space to discuss all the foibles from Stricherz' crew(s) this year let alone over his career – and this is the internet, a place not limited to hard-print column inches. But seeing he and crew toss the laundry, followed by a discussion of great length, and eventually revealing to all there was indeed holding on a play on multiple occasions continues to baffle some of the greatest minds of this generation.

For Cougar partisans tomorrow, no matter what call might go against the crimson and gray at some point during the game, you can take comfort in these two things: It could be worse, Stricherz' crew could be calling the game. And 2) Mr. Stricherz is retiring after this season.

Of course, until Scott assures Pac-12 fans he is not offering Stricherz a position in the league office, such as Supervisor of Officials, we'll still be shopping Costco on Saturdays in the fall for those gallon-sized buckets of extra-strength pain relieving caplets.

  • The only Pac-10/12 official and crew of the past 20 years who can mount a worthy challenge to Stricherz' throne is the retired Gordon Riese. And when you add in Verle Sorgen, the bombastic, petulant and biased, former Pac-10 supervisor of officials, you had yourself a regular officiating Axis of Evil. By the way, did you know Sorgen had a lot to do with Stricherz becoming a Pac-10 referee? It's all becoming clear now, isn't it.)

  • Officials from the six automatic-qualifying conferences work BCS bowls on a rotation, according to Jon Solomon of al.com. Last year's crew for the BCS title game was from the Pac-12. A Big Ten crew officiates this year's title game. Names of the officials usually are not released publicly until the day of the game.

  • Officials get recommended by their conference coordinator to work bowl games and can't be assigned to any bowl involving a team from the conference they represent.

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