Injury report remains at forefront
The saga of injuries and the broken relationship between Pac-12 coaches and reporters continued into this week.
As more programs, including Utah, continue to tighten regulations that prevent media from reporting observations from practice — and punish them if they do — the issue remains at the forefront of the league’s off-the-field image.
Utah released a statement last week informing Salt Lake-area media that their members were prohibited from reporting schemes or injuries, the latter of which was generally considered a departure from long-standing practice.
On Tuesday, USC coach Lane Kiffin, who has pulled one reporter’s credentials for writing about an injury, said that he can’t legally give an update on the health of Brian Baucham, despite the cornerback leaving the field in Saturday’s win against California in an ambulance.
According to a report by ESPNLosAngeles.com, Kiffin called Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott over the weekend to explain himself for a move that drew the ire of the L.A. press. When asked about a player’s return from injury, Kiffin deflected the question, then abruptly walked away.
A week earlier, Scott said he had begun to review the possibility of introducing conference-wide injury reports to create a uniform system. He said Kiffin wanted an opportunity to explain his stance.
“He knew I was concerned about what I was seeing and hearing and that there was some tension and frustration between the press and some of our coaches,” Scott said Saturday at halftime of USC’s victory. “He called to make sure I was aware. … He wanted me to hear his point of view and explain to me what’s happened here.”
Scratch the scabs
With NFL replacement referee fervor at its height, former Pac-12 supervisor of officials Mike Pereira said he fired three of the NFL’s “scab” officials when they were employed by the Pac-12.
Pereira, now a television analyst for Fox Sports who critiques officiating, told the San Jose Mercury News that three of the officials were among 11 referees who either did not have their contracts renewed or opted to retire when he became the Pac-12’s interim coordinator of officiating in 2011.
Other replacement refs have experience officiating throughout the college ranks.
“I feel bad for this group because they’re doing the best that they can,” Pereira told the Mercury News. “But officials need to know the rule book by heart. You can’t question yourself in the heat of battle. And without total knowledge of the rule, you can’t react, and then you become tentative. That’s what we are seeing.”
Red zone zeroes
It would have been more of an offensive showdown if Arizona’s offense had actually shown up.
After averaging 46.3 points and 604 yards in the first three weeks, the Wildcats were held scoreless and to just 332 yards in a 49-0 loss at Oregon.
It’s not that the Wildcats were entirely ineffective against the Ducks’ improved defense: They reached the red zone six times but came away with no points. On their first four drives, the Cats had two missed field goals, an interception and a sack on fourth down.
“It was really poor execution,” coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday. “We’ve had that in two games — the first game and the last game when we get in the red zone and didn’t execute well.”
Quarterback Matt Scott was 22 of 44 for 210 yards with three interceptions.
What looked on the schedule like a likely victory, Saturday’s home game against No. 18 Oregon State, has taken on a more challenging hue, as the Beavers have proven to have one of the nation’s stoutest rush defenses.