By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
The other night I turned (I mean, hit the guide menu and found) the TV channel to something new: The Pac-12 Network.
Much to my delight the commentators were discussing University of Oregon football. For me it doesn’t get any better. I love my Ducks. I have a college degree from the school and these past few years have been very exciting.
I’ve followed Pac-10 (now it’s the Pac-12) football and basketball for years. Anywhere I have lived I got to see the Ducks play on TV, if not live. Then I moved to Arizona, and had to go to sports bars to see Oregon games.
The Pac-12 Network just might be the thing that allows me to see Mighty Oregon more often. For now it’s only regional, but here’s hoping someone flips a switch at Cox Cable and gives me the ability to see every team in the conference. Isn’t that the point of a conference network?
The Ducks are one of the best teams in the nation so a few games will go national, but with those early-season games against the out-of-conference schools, hopefully the new channel will show me my team from afar.
Now on to the pros. Everyone who likes the NFL can’t wait for the season to start, and some fans are getting their fix by watching the preseason. OK, well, maybe a lot of fans watch the preseason. I do, and it’s a shame we have to watch replacement officials oversee these games.
No disrespect to the replacements. They need the work, probably, and some might have actual hopes of being an NFL official one day. It’s a job that is pressure-packed, but they have coaches’ challenges and replay booths to help make sure there are no glaring mistakes.
But wow, these guys look shaky. I watched the Raiders-Cardinals preseason game Friday and head referee Donovan Briggans looked kind of unsure of himself out there having to announce the calls on a wireless field mic. You have to be authoritative out there with that. You have to belt out those calls and explain the calls thoroughly and with poise. There is pressure on the official to perform to a high standard, from fans to players to coaches to executives.
It’s a thankless job, being an official. If you do the job well and make the right calls, no one says good job except the head of officiating. If you blow a call, everyone is giving you a bad time.
I haven’t watched the officiating closely in the preseason, but with Briggans struggling with his mic and trying to find the right words to describe calls plus the personal foul called against Arizona cornerback Jamell Fleming for what really looked like a legal lead-with-the-shoulder hit on the Raiders’ Darrius Heyward-Bey in the second quarter, it could really be a problem if the NFL must start the regular season with the replacements.
The NFL should just pay all of these locked-out officials a lot of money, enough to have them not worry about working another job on the side, and allow them to focus on their job full-time instead of stressing over additional revenue streams. Show the officials the money, send them to development and improvement seminars and clinics in the offseason, keep them in good physical shape then confidently send them out to training camps in July. Then pick the best of the best for the playoffs and Super Bowl.
And what about the players? The NFL is at present putting the safety of its players in the hands of replacement officials. No wonder there was a quick flag thrown on the Fleming hit. These guys would rather call a lot of penalties than not, so as to avoid being criticized for not doing enough to protect the players.
It’s tough enough to be an official. Give these guys six figures plus expenses and let’s have the best out there. People depend on it.