A conversation with Pac-12's VP of Officiating over specific calls in WSU-Oregon

BECAUSE WASHINGTON STATE won the thriller in Eugene, any crimson outrage over yellow flags and non-calls fizzled soon after the game went final. But the Pac-12 officiating at Oregon was so jarring it deserves to be revisited. We posed the following questions to new Pac-12 vice president of officiating David Coleman.

First, a note: At the Pac-12 media days, the conference made a pretty big deal about how they would stress "consistency, accountability, communication and transparency" from its game officials. It's in the eye of the beholder how that has played out, even on the day they announced it. The Pac-12 wouldn't consent to a CF.C interview with Coleman (so there was no opportunity for follow ups) but instead asked we submit our questions via email. Here are our questions and Coleman's responses from that email exchange. On a scale of 1-100 how have Pac-12 officiating crews done overall through five games in your estimation?

Coleman: We are focused on the following: Consistency, Accountability, Communications and Transparency.  The football officials have embraced this focus and are striving to achieve excellence in their work. First Quarter, 3:25 -- Your thoughts on the hit on Dom Williams (non-call) in the first quarter – was it targeting or a legal hit?

Coleman: I would have supported a call for targeting on this play.  The receiver is defenseless and the defensive player hits him with forcible contact above the shoulders (head or neck area).  The video shows helmet to helmet contact. Third Quarter, 4:05  -- Your thoughts on the officials picking up the flag for pass interference because running back was deemed after discussion to be behind the line of scrimmage, with replays showing him 1-2 yards ahead.  Why isn’t that a reviewable play?

Coleman: The call was incorrect.  The pass was caught beyond the line of scrimmage and the offensive pass interference should not have been picked up. Fourth Quarter, 1:58 -- Your thoughts on the facemask non-call on Luke Falk in the fourth quarter.  On the same play, did the officials correctly rule him as having his “forward progress stopped” as announced and was intentional grounding the right call in your estimation?

Coleman: I would have supported a call for Face Mask Major on this play.  The QB helmet and facemask are grabbed and pulled.  The video picks it up but difficult to see on the field. Fourth Quarter, 0:08 -- Should the officials have thrown a flag on Luke Falk for snapping the ball early at end of game, as Mark Helfrich has said they should have?

Coleman: The handling of the snaps that took place prior to the ball being made ready for play were properly handled for the following reasons:
•       The down box had not been set before the first spike.  When that happens after a first down, play is stopped, the down box is set (chains if outside the 10 yard line), the ball is made ready for play and the clock is wound.
•       There was miscommunication between the Center Judge and the quarterback and center.  Standing next to the quarterback, the Center Judge said “snap the ball when I say ready”.   When the Center Judge said it a second time, the quarterback spiked the ball and told the Center Judge, “you said ready”.  The proper decision was made to reset.

It was best to reset due to that sequence of events and the miscommunication described. Second OT, third-and-goal -- Was the correct call made in overtime on River Cracraft's catch where it was deemed Robert Lewis caught the ball for a 4-yard TD after ball popped loose from Cracraft.

Coleman: Correct call; touchdown. Did Oregon and WSU send in plays after the game, were there any (other than the ones discussed above) the Pac-12 office acknowledged were incorrect/missed and if so, which ones?

Coleman: Yes, we receive plays for review from coaches.  That is privileged communication that is not discussed with the media.

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