When Larry Scott was named commissioner of the then-Pac-10 in summer 2009, more than one observer wondered how involved in football an East Coast-bred administrator whose only previous sports experience came in women's tennis would really be.
It didn't take long for him to give us an answer, aggressively reshaping the league into the Pac-12 and by many accounts nearly convincing Texas to become the tentpole for a 16-team superconference. Scott has already taken one step to extricate the league from its less-than-optimal television contracts, signing a lucrative deal with Fox for the new conference title game. And now two stories out of the West Coast show that Scott's not slowing down his proactive ways anytime soon.
The first: under the direction of former NFL official (and Fox replay-challenge expert) Mike Pereira, the Pac-12 is overhauling its football officiating programs , starting with the departure of longtime Coordinator of Football Officiating Dave Cutaia and continuing with ... well, we're not sure, but it sounds great:
"Like in other high priority areas, we have taken a fresh look at our program, and will be implementing a series of changes that are forward-looking, innovative and take our program to the next level," Scott said. "The game and level of play is always improving, so it's essential that in the critical area of officiating, the program continue to evolve and improve as well."Again, what this "series of changes" entails specifically -- what "adjustments" will be "implemented" when the season begins -- are still a question mark. But given the occasionally laughable errors made by Pac-12 officials the past few years and certain ethically dubious officiating policies , it's clear there's plenty of areas that need the improvement.
The adjustments to the Pac-12 football officiating program came after a season-long review of the entire program by Mike Pereira ... The implementation of the officiating program coincides with the beginning of the new Pac-12 Conference, which features the addition of the University of Colorado and the University of Utah .
But it's the other story that really illustrates how involved with his conference's member schools Scott wants to be. Remember when Washington's athletic director called Oregon's academics "an embarrassment"? Per the Seattle Times, Scott tried to arrange for U-Dub to issue an apology by writing their apology for them :
On the Monday following the Nov. 6 game, Scott sent to UW interim president Phyllis Wise what was referred to as "our suggestion" of a one-paragraph statement UW could release, apologizing for the incident ...
Wise, on Tuesday afternoon following the game, released a letter she had sent to Woodward admonishing him for an "uncharacteristic lack of judgment" and asking that he personally apologize to Oregon President Richard Lariviere . Scott's letter to Wise had not sought a personal Woodward apology.
One sentence in Scott's letter is almost identical to what Wise released, stating that Wise had called Lariviere and "reinforced that these comments do not reflect the views of our administration."
When discussing the most powerful commissioners in college football, the first two names that come to mind are Mike Slive and Jim Delany. But if Scott remains this insistent on managing his league's affairs in this kind of detail as well as leading the charge on issues like TV contracts and expansion, he might find himself in Slive's and Delany's company before too much longer.