SALT LAKE CITY — In recent years, the Pac-10 Conference officiating crews have been criticized perhaps more than any conference in college football for blunders they have made in games, often in the national spotlight. The most famous was late in the 2006 Oregon-Oklahoma game when officials on the field and in the replay booth missed obvious calls that handed the Ducks a victory.
Last February, new commissioner Larry Scott directed a "comprehensive review of the officiating program" which led the coordinator of football officiating stepping down from his position after 27 years and 11 officials being fired.
So it was quite ironic that in the very first Pac-12 football game last Saturday between Utah and USC that the officials were the subject of embarrassment for not getting the final score right until a couple of hours after the game ended.
At first the league came out with a statement, talking about "unsportsmanlike conduct fouls by substitutes are enforced as dead ball fouls," trying to explain the rule and why the score was put back on.
However, the next day in what seemed like an effort to exonerate the officials from wrong-doing, a statement came out saying the problem was miscommunication between the officials on the field and the press box.
The statement read:
"The final play of the game between USC and Utah was ruled properly and the touchdown did stand. There was miscommunication between the officials and the press box that led to the confusion about the final score. We will make the appropriate adjustment to improve the communication between on field officials and press box personnel so that we avoid any scoring issues in the future."
I was at the game and recall the head official saying the penalty was "by rule" declined and that the game was over. But I don't recall him signaling touchdown or saying the touchdown would stand. And obviously, neither did anyone else in the press box.
UTAHN SHINES FOR HUSKIES: Washington linebacker Cort Dennison was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week, joining teammate Everrette Thompson, who was named special teams player of the week and Colorado receiver Paul Richardson as offensive player of the week.
Dennison is a senior from Salt Lake, who prepped at Judge Memorial, where he was an all-state tight end as a senior in 2007. He redshirted his first year, played in 10 games as a freshman, 12 as a sophomore, starting five and then started 12 games at middle linebacker in 2010. He led the team in tackles and was No. 4 in the Pac-10 Conference.
He had 12 tackles in Washington's 40-32 win over Hawaii and also forced a fumble, stripping the ball from a Hawaii receiver at the end of a 34-yard reception.
UTAH REPRESENTS: The final 53-man NFL rosters show 228 former Pac-12 players listed, led by USC with 41 former players, followed by California with 28 and Oregon with 21. UCLA was next with 20, followed by Utah and Oregon State with 17 and Stanford with 15.
Washington has the fewest NFL players with nine.
GO FOR 100: It could get ugly at Autzen Stadium this week when Oregon hosts Missouri State.
The Ducks vented their anger from an opening-week loss to LSU with a 69-20 pounding of Nevada.
Missouri State is just an average FCS team, coming into Oregon with an 0-2 record with a big loss to Arkansas and a 28-24 loss to Eastern Kentucky last week. If the Ducks could lay 69 points on Nevada, a decent FBS team, they could probably go for 100 against Missouri State. But they will probably settle for something in the 70s as they try to work their way up the national rankings.
PAC-12 NOTES: Utah players who lead the league in individual categories, include Reggie Dunn, first in kick returns at 27 yards per return, linebacker Chaz Walker tied for first in tackles with 10.5 per game, Ryan Lacy tied for first in passes defended at 2 and Brian Blechen tied for first in interceptions at 1. ...
Utah and USC kicked off the Pac-12 schedule last week with the first-ever Pac-12 contest in Los Angeles. The second game, and only league game this week, will be played at Tucson, where No. 6-ranked Stanford takes on Arizona at 8:45 MT. ...
Washington State, 5-32 over the past three years, leads the nation in scoring at 61.5 points per game. The Cougars will get tested more this week in a game at San Diego State. ...
Last week's California-Colorado overtime thriller may turn out to be one of the best games in the conference this year — even though it didn't count as a conference game. This week both schools will continue to play non-conference games with Cal hosting Presbyterian and Colorado playing Colorado State in Denver. ...
Besides the Utah-BYU game, the banner game in the Pac-12 this week is 2-0 Washington at No. 10-ranked Nebraska. ...
In the seven games hosted by Pac-12 teams last week, the average attendance was 55,052. The largest crowd was at the USC-Utah game (73,821) and the smallest was at Washington State-UNLV (27,018).