BURBANK, California -- Consistency, accountability, communications and transparency. These are the things that Pac-12 officials will focus on when teams take the field in 5 weeks. It sounds like the Pac-12 has been listing to their fans.
David Coleman, who spent 22 years in the military and, most recently worked in an operations role with in the NFL, was hired as the Pac-12's Vice President of Officiating in April. Today, at Pac-12 Media Day, he restated his desire to set a standard that others will follow. "Our focus this year in terms of the message to the officials," Coleman said, "is excellence in officiating."
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Coleman outlined numerous ways that he will use to evaluate officials, including a concept of "feedback and feed forward." Every week, Coleman will produce a video showing what officials did right and what they did wrong. He'll also judge each official's game using rating criteria including correct call (CC) and incorrect call(IC), and correct judgment (CJ) and incorrect judgment (IJ). "We will only give a CJ, the correct judgment for action, what I refer to, as above and beyond, really saving the crew, making the big call," Coleman explained. "When the chips are down, being there and being ready and doing it right. That is the correct judgment." Officials will receive feedback and, if they show improvement, will be rewarded with post-season assignments.
Coleman is also focused on transparency. "We're looking at putting out a periodic video to you of what's happening to keep you informed of what the trends are, to let you know what's important to us and what we're focusing on," he said. The videos would be a great way to give a public face to these officials that have so long been behind the scenes. It shows that the league is working on improving things in season, which they have always done, but haven't been showing.
Coleman also covered numerous rules changes and adaptations coming to the league this year. The one with the biggest impact will most likely be the addition of an 8th official: The center judge. Coleman covered the mechanics of the new official; notably, he'll be on the left side of the offense and the referee will line up on the right. He'll play a big part in helping to protect the quarterback on scrambles and overall help the officiating process flow better, Coleman said.
Coleman also covered other rules and adaptations:
- New equipment rules, most notably the ban on overbuilt facemasks.
- New rules about fumble scrums including it now being illegal to push or pull players off pile.
- New replay review rules, including the ability to review early blocking on onside kicks.
- Defensive players who have their helmet come off will be subject to the same rules as offensive players
- An emphasis on sideline management. This includes more communications and official warnings on sideline infractions (team personnel standing in the white sideline box). Teams will get a clear, announced warning first, followed by an unsportsmanline conduct penalty. If someone interferes with one of the wing officials during a play, accidental or otherwise, an automatic penalty may be awarded.
Coleman didn't give the opportunity for questions after his presentation, but his prepared remarks made an impact. Coleman is serious about improving conference officiating and he has a plan to do it.