Dear Mr. Scott,
I first off would like to thank you for rescuing the Pac-10 from the clutches of Tom Hansen. I would also like to thank you for expanding the conference (if not for adding Colorado my Cougs would be the worst team in the conference yet again), and that mega-awesome TV deal you signed. That being said I have a bone to pick with the Pac-12. It’s a problem that has been aroundthe entire 18 years I have been alive. It’s a problem that you yourselfadmitted needed to be fixed. That problem is the officiating.
Casey Locker has become a popular target for Pac-12 refs these days. Having been flagged for three unnecessary roughness penalties on hits that are like the one pictured above and even better? The one hit he should have been flagged on he wasn’t (this is the hit he delivered on a Stanford wide out Owusu during the homecoming game). About those three hits that Locker delivered that WERE flagged; 1) He lead with his hands and not his helmet, 2) he hit the wide receiver in the chest/shoulder pad area, 3) they all resulted in incomplete passes and an after the play penalty that cost that ended up in a first down for the opposing team.
Locker is not the only Pac-12 player to be flagged for clean hits. Multiple times I have gone over highlight reels and watched as safeties laid good and CLEAN hits on wide receivers who have planted their feet and a flag is thrown for unnecessary roughness. I understand the need to protect the players and I would be fine with these penalties if they were called consistently throughout the conference. They are not; in those same reels I notice wide outs getting destroyed and no flags being thrown. If you want to protect the players, calling penalties consistently will help. Another thing to consider when trying to protect the players is that, this is football. Big hits are a part of the game, the players know this, the fans know this, and the officials SHOULD know this. When the wide receiver plants his feet and begins to run up-field he is fair game. That’s how I remember football being played, that’s how I believe football SHOULD be played (obviously leading with your helmet is a no-no).
With that being said, I beg of you Mr. Scott. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE continue to make improvements to Pac-12 officiating. It is (and always has been) atrocious. You, and the conference, can do better.
Neil Vincent Roberts
Proud alum of Washington State University, crazy sports nut, and drinker of beer.