|Lane Kiffin says his 2-year-old son could have spotted the ball better on Saturday night. (US Presswire)|
The Pacific 12 Conference is good at making military campaigns to the East and Southwest, and Larry Scott looks great in a coonskin cap and a musket.
But as a disciplinarian ... he looks great in a coonskin cap and a musket.
Scott was handed multiple reasons to drop a hammer on Lane Kiffin of USC, who tantrum'd a cardinal streak after the Trojans lost in triple overtime to Stanford on Saturday. The best one was when he suggested that his 2-year-old could spot a ball better, and if that's all he'd said, I'd have tried to convince Scott to overturn the call just on general principle.
You get points for funny. You just do.
But Kiffin went on and on, and on some more after junior safety T.J. McDonald was suspended for half a game for a hit on Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu. In fact, he overplayed his hand as though it were a seven-deuce at the final table.
And that's where Scott should have done what we actually ask commissioners to do -- brought down the hammer on Kiffin and given him a full game.
And, while we're at it, done the same for McDonald.
And while we're still at it, suspended the officials if in fact they failed to do their jobs well enough in a game that demanded it.
We mention all of these because we don't necessarily have an issue with Kiffin, or McDonald. We do know, however, that a commissioner who short-arms discipline ends up looking like a weakling, and Scott being an empire-builder doesn't need that on his resume.
Officiating has been a serious issue in the conference for years, to the point where it is a national thigh-slapper. Officials have been replaced, and NFL referee Tony Corrente is the new supervisor with a charge to make the officiating less, well, Pac-12-ish.
But changing personnel isn't enough. Greater accountability is demanded, and when the officials fail to bring their A-game, they should be suspended as though they were, well, Lane Kiffin.
And Kiffin, for his part, needed a lot more than a $10,000 fine for his public comments, on the theory that if the conference is doing its job, Kiffin would be piling on for his own benefit and should pay the price for that. A fine of one-four-hundredth his salary is the equivalent of you calling your supervisor a jackass at a staff meeting and being fined $100.
And as for McDonald, a half-game? If the hit on Owusu is that serious, a game seems the minimal price. If it isn't, he should get nothing.
The point is this: If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right, which means it's worth doing big. The conference needs to understand that Scott isn't just the guy from Century 21, and that if he wants rigorous standards for behavior and competence, he can't lay the bar in the mud and say, "Try to do better than this."
Understand again, we're not taking a side here except for a commissioner who shows that he's there to do more than just scout out new locations.
I mean, a half-game suspension? A fine that can be covered out of petty cash? Nothing for the official? What the hell are we playing at here?
Either the officials got it right, in which case Kiffin needs a severe hammering for pitching a nutty, or they got it wrong, in which case they need a time out. Doing a little bit sends a signal (and God, do we hate that phrase) that Scott is just not that interested one way or another.
And we presume that isn't the case -- unless he has the Kansas schools on hold.
But we are willing to offer Kiffin all the get-out-of-jail-free cards he ever wants if he can show us that Knox Kiffin is as good a ball-spotter as the old man says he is.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com