The biggest news this week (even bigger than the Kevin Ware injury, which is another discussion for another time) was CBSSports.com college basketball writer Jeff Goodman's story that Ed Rush, the head of Pac-12 basketball officials, offered rewards to his referees if they gave technical fouls to Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
Rush, according to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either "rang him up" or "ran him," meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game. Rush then reiterated during a Friday morning meeting, according to one referee in attendance, that officials should take similar action against Miller if he did anything on Friday in the Pac-12 semifinals against UCLA.
Naturally, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been on the radio circuit to defend his conference and discuss possible actions that he will take. He has made statements and given interview comments ranging from the standard "We're looking into it" to "Yeeeeah, technically he didn't do anything wrong". Obviously I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist.
In my opinion, the most surprising turn of events was the massive backlash against Scott for not transporting Rush to a 16th century English courtyard and yelling, "Off with his head." Scott is the best commissioner in college sports, and he knew what he was doing when he covered literally every one of his bases. He said there would be punishment, that there wouldn't be punishment, that the Goodman's source wasn’t credible, that it was said in jest. This guy had every which way covered, and by basically making tons of non-statements when he was under fire, he bought time to gather information on the incident in order to act smartly and rationally. So when Rush is forced to resign, whenever it inevitably comes to that, everyone will forget this ever happened.
(Side note: there's no way that he's not the best commissioner. Delany once held the title, think recent conference expansion generating B1G television dollars. However, some of his, albeit smaller decisions, Legends and Leaders, have flopped, and he makes dumb comments to the media. Mike Slive may seem like another choice, but he lucked out in terms of what he started with. Scott came in as an outsider to a conference that was teetering on the brink of irrelevance, yet made it one of the most profitable, forward thinking leagues, even with both cash sports being inferior nationally. He does the most with the least.)
Anyway, if all happens as I assume and Rush resigns quietly, he handled it the best way possible considering the possible magnitude of the scandal at hand. In case you didn't remember, Scott was the man that made the entire bias controversy surrounding football official Jim Fogltance disappear. Remember Jim Fogltance? In case you didn't, he was the replay official of the 2012 Sugar Bowl. In case you didn't remember the 2012 Sugar...just kidding, of course you remember.
Just for kicks though, let's take a guess at how other commissioners would have reacted to this scenario:
Jim Delany: Upon hearing the news, Delany immediately blamed it on the SEC and their takeover of college football. He then continued his brainstorming session about trying to get New York City residents to think they like and support Rutgers athletics.
John Swofford: Swofford immediately heard the news...well by immediately I mean about a week late. He's out of the loop since that rascal Roy Williams pranked him by changing his spam filters to include the words "expansion", "academic scandal" and "we're leaving", which left him with nothing but grumpy cat emails in his inbox. Unconcerned about whatever small potatoes scandal was on hand—"Does it involve tutors or strippers? No? I told you not to bother me unless it was important."—Swofford kept on reading a breakup advice column by Taylor Swift.
Mike Slive: Slive went into action immediately, by calling Saban. Then Les. Then Freeze. Then Muschamp. Then Richt. Then Mullen. Then Sumlin. Then Franklin. After he realized that none of them were involved, he climbed back onto his pile of money and listened to a tape called "The Finebaum Show's Greatest Callers".
Bob Bowlsby: Learning from the mistakes of his predecessor, Bowlsby knew what to do. He simply drove Rush to Austin, Texas, and dropped in at the home of Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds. Dodds thanked him for his work, told him that he has proved his loyalty and said that the grown ups would take it from here.
Mike Aresco: Confused when hearing that the scandal didn't involve his plan to sabotage any team not named UConn, Cincinnati or South Florida, Aresco went back to the business of adding Wichita State and Gonzaga as full time members.
One last thing about this—would anyone be surprised if Scott were the person who leaked the videos of Mike Rice to the media so everyone would forget about this? Anyone? Okay let's move on.
Other news of the week:
Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki sparked a controversy by questioning potential first round pick Geno Smith's work ethic and football intelligence, calling him a cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks. Upon hearing the news, Peter Lalich called Smith to congratulate him, apparently not realizing that not everyone wants to be a Smith/Brooks hybrid.
ESPN has been getting killed recently for green-lighting a seemingly harmless piece on the Lakers. The problem? It was written by Jay Mariotti, the most hated (and for good reason) man in all of sports journalism. This would be like, say, a hated coach getting hired by a hated school. But I mean that never
happens. Ever. At all. Take it from college football, ESPN. That is NEVER a good idea.
Have a great week y'all.