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Pac-12 on officiating scandal: Mistakes were made

The Pac-12 has completed the internal review sparked by the officiating scandal resulting from the Sept. 21 Washington State-USC game. In short, an obvious targeting call on USC linebacker Porter Gustin was overturned despite consensus agreement from the professionals involved because the Pac-12's general counsel senior VP of business affairs Woodie Dixon, who is not a trained official, intervened to say the play wasn't targeting.

Dixon apparently thought he was simply providing an opinion while the Pac-12's replay command center took it as, well, a command. The explanation didn't make things much better, because it revealed that an untrained business executive was throwing his two cents into the Pac-12's in the first place -- a process that was supposed to be sacrosanct.

The Pac-12 has insisted this was an isolated incident, but the scandal has, justifiably, heaped a ton of suspicion on the credibility of the Pac-12's replay review process -- and, thus, on the conference's entire football product. And that's the thing about credibility -- it's like a Jenga tower, where all it takes is one brick to bring the whole thing tumbling down and a long time to rebuild it.

Anyway, the Pac-12's ADs released a joint statement Wednesday saying it'll never happen again.

“The safety of our student-athletes has been and will always be a priority with the Pac-12 Conference. The Conference office has acknowledged that mistakes have been made in our football replay process specific to the USC vs. Washington State game played on September 21, 2018. The Conference office has taken action with the personnel involved with the game and have made important changes to the replay process and protocol. These revisions have been presented to the Athletic Directors and we support the changes that have been implemented. Moving forward, we have confidence in the integrity of our process and the personnel charged with monitoring the process.”

Moreover, the conference has implemented two new changes:

(i) a protocol that clearly states that the instant replay supervisor in the San Francisco centralized replay facility has final decision-making authority, and that no administrator shall play any role in the deliberations, (ii) the development of a comprehensive manual governing all aspects of instant replay officiating, including detailed protocols and procedures, and (iii) disciplinary measures imposed on certain Pac-12 personnel responsible for the inadequate procedures and involved in the inappropriate influencing of the replay official’s decision in the USC vs. Washington State game.

Though the conference did not name who was being disciplined and what that discipline entailed, the announcement specifically stated Dixon's call into the replay center was "a mistake."