The state of Arizona is not new to officiating controversies.
Though the finish to Arizona State’s win over Wisconsin Saturday is the most recent, it’s not even the first issue to hit Arizona this year.
The Sun Devils’ rivals to the south, Arizona, were involved in a couple of different “scandals” earlier in the year, albeit in basketball. A little more than nine months ago, the Wildcats got the benefit of a questionable call when a three-point shot by Colorado’s Sabatino Chen was waved off, paving the way for third-ranked Arizona to win the game in overtime. However, a few months later, the Wildcats and head coach Sean Miller were at the center of a Pac-12 Tournament mess that ultimately forced Ed Rush, the head of officiating, to resign.
Needless to say, UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne has an interesting perspective on situations like this and how to handle them.
“I think each [situation] is different,” Byrne told ArizonaSports.com’s Bearing Down with Adam and Jarrett. “What you do, necessarily, behind the scenes may be different than what you do publicly.
“Obviously your fan base wants to know you’re supporting the university and your program and your coach and your kids, so you try to make sure they know that that’s happening. At the same time, you may be a little more forceful privately than what you are publicly just for the fact that you’re trying to move things along and not have it be a public fight.”
Byrne said with regards to the Colorado game he knows that some angles appeared to show the shot should have counted while others showed that it should not have. Then, of course, the Pac-12 Tournament was an entirely different story.
But that’s just it: no two referee controversies are alike, which means there is no right or wrong way to handle them. You just have to take them as they come, he said, and react accordingly.
“You try to imagine all scenarios and be prepared for all scenarios of what could happen during a game, both from your competition and on top of that from what can take place in the whole environment, which officiating is one of them,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone could have scripted what took place in any of those.”
And ultimately, referees in all conferences make mistakes, which is why Byrne does not believe this will leave a black eye or stain the Pac-12’s reputation going forward. He said the conference has taken steps and tried to improve things, and overall he feels like the officials do a good job.
“But at the end of the day there’s still going to be mistakes, it does happen,” he said. “You just hope when they happen, that you’re on the right side of it.”