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Pac-12 to alter replay process after damning report showed conference official overruling decision in a game

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Pac-12 after dark is taking on a whole new meaning after this week as the conference has found itself right in the middle of another officiating scandal entirely of its own making (and not due to the incompetence of referees on the field).

The genesis of the scandal came last month when Washington State played USC at the Coliseum. The Trojans escaped with a win on a blocked last second field goal attempt by the Cougars but the far bigger story to emerge from the contest was the uproar over two potential targeting calls in the second half. One came in the fourth quarter as USC linebacker Porter Gustin nailed quarterback Gardner Minshew with a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not called for targeting (see below).

While that play came at a key moment in the game, it’s not the call that the ensuing uproar this week is truly focused on. That came in the third quarter when Trojans signal-caller J.T. Daniels took a knee trying to avoid a sack and was hit in the helmet after he had given himself up by Wazzu linebacker Logan Tago. Roughing the passer was called but not targeting. Via SB Nation: 

It seems that during the review process for targeting, according to Yahoo! Sports, Pac-12 general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs Woodie Dixon overruled the officials at the stadium and in the conference command center to claim that the call in question was not targeting — against the wishes of those whose job it is to, you know, actually officiate these things. It was documented as such in an internal report obtained by Yahoo! Sports.

“Our conference and our leadership has a deep commitment to the integrity of officiating and to protecting student-athlete health and well being,” Scott said Thursday, addressing the report during Pac-12 basketball media day. “What’s been reported was of significant concern to me. It’s new information to me that I was not aware of. There’s some things that have come out that I’ve had a chance to look into and have had discussions with the individuals involved directly.

“First, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve made mistakes with regards to our procedures involved with replay review in the command center. We mixed administrative oversight and leadership with real time replay review calls made by experts — on the field, in the stadium and in the command center. More over, we’ve allowed for ambiguity about who has the final call.”

The Pac-12 will now launch a more through review of how replay works in the conference and will immediately be changing procedures, starting with Friday’s games, and remove administrators from the replay review process entirely. 

“It was not (Dixon’s) intention — and he didn’t believe — he was making a decision. He was trying to offer a point of view on the calls,” Scott added. “From the replay official in the stadium’s perspective, and other people’s perspective, they clearly interpreted it as a decision or directive. From my perspective, that’s enough. Even if it wasn’t intended as he’s making the decision… none of that matters from my perspective. If there was a perception that he was involved in making the decision, that is inappropriate.”

While it goes without saying that every fan believes that their conference officials are some of the worst around, the Pac-12’s issues have been generating headlines for well over a decade. This episode though, goes well beyond a blown call. It’s a full on intervention on behalf of the conference office on an officiating decision. This is the kind of stuff fans and coaches have rumored happens all the time and is now documented publicly as something the Pac-12 has done, all but confirming a widely held conspiracy.

It also calls not only the decisions made in the Washington State-USC game into question, but also those of any controversial call of the past several years and especially since the conference command center was put in place last season. Whatever shred of credibility the Pac-12 had when it came to officiating is not only gone, but it will take significant changes to get even a shred back. This is an absolute nightmare scenario for the league and rebooting the entire system (to say nothing of a potential resignation or two) seems like the bare minimum that needs to occur over the coming weeks and months. 

Dixon will no longer be involved in the replay process and the conference office will be exploring additional changes to the entire officiating process going forward. But make no mistake, this yet another huge black mark on Scott and the Pac-12 itself. There’s already a growing basketball scandal that is sweeping up nearly half of the conference’s schools and this is yet another thing on the commissioner’s plate that he will have to deal with directly as fans remain up in arms and skeptical about the entire administration of the league.

Calls for Scott to resign as part of a wholesale house cleaning will grow by the day and you can certainly bet that the forthcoming investigation and resulting changes won’t do much to change the minds of many on the West Coast after a league’s worst fears were revealed for all to see this week.

TCU QB Shawn Robinson to have season-ending shoulder surgery

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It has been a rough morning for TCU football news. On top of news of an arrest of wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (who has now been suspended by TCU) on Sunday comes injury news that will impact the quarterback position for the rest of the season.

Shawn Robinson, who had been TCU’s starting quarterback this season, will see his season come to a premature ending after head coach Gary Patterson announced he will be undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Michael Collins, a transfer from Penn who stepped in to provide a spark on offense on Saturday against the Sooners, will take over as the starting for the Horned Frogs moving forward.

Robinson, a sophomore, played in all seven games for TCU up to this point in the season, in which he passed for 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to being taken out of the Oklahoma game on Saturday, Robinson had completed just three of eight passes for 21 yards. Robinson started against Oklahoma, although Robinson appeared to have injured his shoulder in a previous game against Iowa State.

Collins came into the game in the second quarter and quickly led TCU to an offensive flurry before halftime, but the magic seemingly ran out in the second half as Oklahoma pulled away from the Horned Frogs in the Big 12 contest. Collins ended the day completing seven of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

With Robinson unavailable and Collins taking over as the team’s starter, senior Grayson Muehlstein will be the new backup option for TCU. Muehlstein has appeared in two games this season, completing one of three pass attempts for 11 yards. He has appeared in just seven games for TCU during his college career.

TCU also has former four-star recruit Justin Rogers on the roster. The freshman has not seen any game action this season and the new redshirt rule could allow for the possibility of seeing what he can do in a total of four games without sacrificing a year of eligibility. But his status remains questionable according to recent updates offered by Patterson. Rogers was limited in training camp and has yet to be completely cleared by medical staff members as he is coming off a torn ACL from the season opener of his senior year of high school football last year.

Oklahoma State wearing Barry Sanders era uniforms vs. Texas

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Throwback uniforms have been all the rage lately, and Oklahoma State is getting in on the fun this weekend. With their big game coming up against the Texas Longhorns, the Cowboys will be suiting up in a look inspired by the 1988 Heisman Trophy season of legendary running back Barry Sanders.

Oklahoma State is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Oklahoma State team that went 10-2 and featured Sanders on his run to the Heisman Trophy. Sanders, who won the only Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma State history, rushed for 2,850 yards and 44 touchdowns. He and members of the “War Pigs” offensive line are grand marshalls for Oklahoma State’s homecoming parade this coming weekend.

The uniform, as expected, is perfect and should absolutely be given more opportunities to be worn by Oklahoma State. The uniforms will also include a patch commemorating the anniversary of Sanders’ Heisman Trophy season.

At 1-3 in the Big 12, Oklahoma State needs to go on a big winning streak and hope for some help if the Cowboys are going to play for the Big 12 championship. The Longhorns are sitting on top of the Big 12 standings with a conference record of 4-0.

Super 16 Poll sees Buckeyes drop, Cougars and Aggies debut

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Just as they did in the AP and coaches polls this week, Ohio State fell down the ladder in this week’s Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. The Buckeyes tumbled from No. 2 down to No. 9 after their blowout loss at Purdue, while seven teams moved up one spot at their expense. When all was sorted, however, Alabama remained the dominant team in the poll just as they have all season long.

The Crimson Tide received 50 of 51 first-place votes this week to continue their dominance in the Super 16 Poll. Only LSU managed to secure a first-place vote from the firm grasp of Alabama, but the Tigers managed to move up to just fourth. Undefeated Clemson and Notre Dame stand in the way behind Alabama.

Two new additions were made to the Super 16 poll this week. No. 14 Washington State finally cracked the top 16 after popping up in the voting a few weeks ago and slowly waiting for their chance to make a move. Their win over Oregon did just that and also dropped Oregon from the top 16 in the voting. Texas A&M, at No. 16, also mad their first debut in the top 16 this season after floating around in the voting for over a month. They fill the second vacancy that was left by NC State, who fell to the bottom of the others receiving votes category this week.

Iowa and Penn State, who meet this weekend in Happy Valley, are the first two teams out of the Super 16, so the winner of that Big Ten crossover matchup may have a shot to jump into the poll next week.

Here is this week’s Super 16 Poll.

  1. Alabama (50)
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. LSU (1)
  5. Michigan
  6. Texas
  7. Georgia
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Ohio State
  10. Florida
  11. UCF
  12. Kentucky
  13. West Virginia
  14. Washington State
  15. Washington
  16. Texas A&M

As a disclaimer, three contributors to College Football Talk are voters in the Super 16 poll: Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, and myself (Kevin McGuire).

TCU WR/KR KaVontae Turpin suspended following arrest for alleged assault of family member

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UPDATE 12:28 p.m.: TCU head coach Gary Patterson announced Turpin has been suspended.

One of TCU’s most electric players is facing some legal trouble at the start of the week. KaVontae Turpin was arrested Sunday for alleged assault with bodily harm of a family member according to a report Monday morning from Star-Telegram. He has been released from jail.

The details of the incident have not yet been reported or shared at this time. TCU head coach Gary Patterson has yet to make any statement about the situation at this time. Before any decision on Turpin’ status with the team is made by Patterson, t is likely he and other athletics officials will want to gather as much information about the situation as possible before making any sort of announcement, whether it is handled in-house or not.

While Patterson has not officially been on the record about this news just yet, TCU has.

“Texas Christian University is aware that one of its students was recently arrested for a reported domestic situation,” a statement from TCU’s athletic department said Monday morning. “The university takes these types of reports very seriously and is continuing to gather information to determine next steps. TCU expects its students to behave in an ethical manner, abide by campus policies and adhere to state and federal law.

“The student also may face a charge of violating the University Code of Student Conduct, the results of which are independent and separate from any legal charges.”

Turpin is TCU’s second-leading receiver with 410 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Turpin’s work on special teams has also been a bright spot for TCU this season with one punt return touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown this season.