Upset at a series of blogs quoting game officials, the national coordinator of college football officials has sent a strongly-worded memo outlining how the officials should speak to media.
Sources said Rogers Redding was disturbed with some ESPN.com blogs anonymously quoting officials about team tendencies, coaches and sideline behavior. The blogs, both last year and this year, dealt with BCS bowls and conference championship games.
“If these reports are accurate they are quite disturbing,” Redding wrote in the February memo to officials available on cfo.arbitersports.com. “Such behavior by college football officials is completely inappropriate and highly unprofessional.”
The memo goes on to say that FBS conference officiating coordinators have agreed that no official will speak to media without approval from that conference's coordinator. Two BCS conference coordinators acknowledged the memo and their concerns about the blogs to CBSSports.com.
The blogs believed to be at issue were written by respected, accomplished journalists at ESPN.com. For example, the father of Ryan McGee was a college official for 36 years according to McGee's bio. Nothing against ESPN.com – the blogs are fun reads, but what disturbed Redding and conference supervisors was the candor with which the officials spoke. They were identified only by the conference for which they worked.
One passage cited by a supervisor was an analysis by a Big East official of West Virginia prior to the Orange Bowl:
“The biggest difference we've all noticed so far when it comes to how [former coach] Bill Stewart ran things versus how Dana Holgorsen does it has been sideline discipline. It just feels like total chaos at times. Maybe he's still figuring out the CEO part of the job, but a crazy sideline is usually an indicator of disorganization elsewhere …”
Redding did not respond for numerous requests for comment. He was the longtime SEC coordinator of football officials and secretary-rules editor of the NCAA rules committee.
“The officials were not identified,” said SEC supervisor Steve Shaw. “If I was a coach and read that, I'd contact the coordinator and say, ‘What the heck?'
Prior to January's Sugar Bowl, one official was quoted as saying Michigan “had no idea how to play defense last season.”
A Pac-12 official said this about Stanford before the Fiesta Bowl: “I feel like Andrew Luck has a tendency -- and I want to be careful how I say this -- to kind of disconnect from the game a little. It's not that he doesn't care. There are just times when you feel like he's fully focused and times when he's not.”
A blog dated Nov. 1 quoted one SEC official saying this about LSU:
"What jumps out at you is their speed on defense. On the field with them, there are times when it feels like they are totally lost. You know they know what the play call is, but it never looks like it. It looks chaotic. And I do think they have a tendency to just kind of wing it sometimes, but certainly not to the level that it looks.”
“To me it's disappointing our guys did that,” Shaw said. “In our spring clinics I made a big deal about it.”
Further breaches of protocol, Shaw said, would result in “dire consequences.”
Big 12 supervisor of officials Walt Anderson said: “You have access to an environment that nobody else has access to. That would be like the night before the game the coach being asked, ‘Do you have any trick plays?' And he says, ‘Yeah, we are going to try an onside kick.' "
In the memo, Redding states, “No one associated with a conference officiating program should have conversations with any members of the media without express approval of that conference's coordinator of officials. This includes on-field officials, instant replay personnel, observers, technical assistants, etc. There must be no exceptions.”
Redding is employed by College Football Officiating, LLC, a company started five years by the Collegiate Commissioners Association and the NCAA as a way to streamline officiating.