Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pac 10 Official All But Admits Improper Use of Replay in Stanford Game

It's been a few days since the most blatantly awful replay review of all time, so I think it's time we take a look at what has shaken down in these days in the immediate aftermath of this travesty.

For one, we finally got a public statement from the head of Pac 10 Officiating, Dave Cutaia. In an e-mail he sent out in response to the criticism of the play, he is quoted as saying:

"The replay official felt he had a shot that showed the point of the ball hit the ground...

*First Lie.

...This is basically a judgment call on his part, as an on-field official might judge defensive pass interference.

*Second Lie.

So, let's look at the first part of the statement. The replay official found a shot... no, wait, scratch that... felt he found a shot that conclusively showed (whoops, he didn't use the word "conclusively") the point of the ball hitting the ground. Hey, that's not bad. It's an empirically-testable statement. Now obviously it wasn't any shot that we had available to us, the television-watching audience, because that one clearly did not meet the burden of proof. Ahhh, so it was a secret camera angle that wasn't available to the TV broadcast, right? They do have secret angles, don't they?
Q. What will be the source of the video for replays?
A. All reviewable video will come direct from the television production of the game.

(From the official replay policy)

Allright, no worries. Let's pretend you did have a secret reverse-angle shot that the television networks just didn't decide to put in their broadcast. It probably would have looked something like this shot taken by an on-field photographer:

Which even more conclusively shows that his hand is under the ball.

Moving swiftly along to lie number two...
This is basically a judgment call on his part, as an on-field official might judge defensive pass interference.

Now I'm just a simple caveman, but to me it sounds like Cutaia is admitting that the replay was improperly administered. Either that, or he doesn't know the rules of instant replay set down by the same conference that he is apparently in charge of officiating. You see, the second line of the aforementioned official document on instant replay clearly states:
Standard: There must be indisputable video evidence for an on-field officiating decision to be changed by the Instant Replay Official working from a private booth in the press box.

That underlining was not done by me for emphasis, that's exactly how it appears on the website. But, wait, there must be some wiggle room for a replay official's judgment call, right? I'll do a search of their rulebook for the word "judgment":

So anybody who has taken the time to read the first paragraph of the replay policy (a group which may or may not contain Cutaia) can sufficiently agree that replay is definitively not a "judgment call" and is, moreover, fundamentally opposite from judgment calls like defensive pass interference. Instead it requires, (everyone together now) indisputable video evidence, which Cutaia all but comes out and admits was not the standard of proof used in this specific reversal. The replay officials acted blatantly against their authority... it's black letter law.

Cutaia then declined to make public the names of the officials involved. Perhaps a smart move, what with all the crazies out there, but it still reeks of an institutional refusal to make anybody take accountability for what, in Cuataia's own words, was a clear-cut incorrect ruling. At any rate, it's these two guys. If anyone can track down a directory of Pac 10 officials with mug shots, it should be pretty easy to find out who these incompetent bozos are and keep track on whether or not they've been fired or reprimanded.

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