As usual, Pac-12 Networks analyst Rick Neuheisel was a good interview Wednesday on Dave “Softy” Mahler’s radio show on KJR-AM. As I heard it, when the subject came up of the controversial non-pass interference call near the end of the Washington State-Oregon game, Neuheisel threw out the idea that officiating crews ought to be subject to an interview session after the game, just like coaches and players.
Before we get to that notion, some clarification: There has been some speculation this week that the reason interference wasn’t whistled against Oregon cornerback Dior Mathis against WSU’s Isiah Myers was because Connor Halliday’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
I sought an explanation this week from Pac-12 publicist Dave Hirsch, who e-mailed back: “That was not the ruling on the field.”
Ergo, no, the officials didn’t see a tip. So — devil’s advocate here — even if somehow you feel you see a tip on your TV replay, if the officials didn’t see it, they would have been obliged to rule what everybody else saw, which is interference against Mathis.
We could have deduced as much from some clues: The official would have/should have flagged Mathis, and if the call were a tip, the flag would have been waved off. Then there was Oregon coach Mark Helfrich’s response to Oregonian writer Jason Quick after the game. Helfrich was (understandably) reluctant to weigh in on what was a favorable call. But had the call been a tipped ball, Helfrich surely would have supplied that clarification. He didn’t.
Now, to Neuheisel’s suggestion about post-game access to officials. At its core, it’s a good idea. Situations like the mess a year ago at Arizona State, when Pac-12 officials allowed the clock to run out on Wisconsin, beg for an explanation.
But, two problems: First, post-game visits would have to be limited to certain game situations — judgment calls not being one of them. Those things have to speak for themselves. For instance, in the WSU-Oregon example, since the flag wasn’t thrown, it’s obvious the official would stand by his judgment that the defender didn’t hit the receiver too early.
The second hitch might be even bigger: Nowadays, with the glut of 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. kickoffs (paging the conference office) who has time on newspaper deadline to visit an officials’ interview room at 11:15 p.m.? Most of us scarcely have a precious few minutes to nab a couple of quotes from the coaches and players we’re covering.
Provocative idea, then, but there are complications.