On Monday, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent several letters to a number of Big 12 schools, formally apologizing for a multitude of egregious officiating calls the conference has planned over the course of the season. Though exactly which schools received letters and how many letters those schools received were not specifically disclosed, it is widely believed letter distribution was skewed towards the conference’s northernmost schools.
Over the past handful of years, the Big 12 has made a name for itself with its erratic officiating, and the subsequent apologies to the schools affected. Bowlsby touched on the subject in a special news conference held Monday afternoon.
“We’ve generated a lot of publicity for the Big 12 by encouraging our officials to be as inconsistent as possible. The general unpredictability of officiating in literally every situation on the field really adds a lot of excitement to the game. There are few things more exciting during a football play than trying to figure out whether the flag was for a false start or a targeting penalty.”
Though the Big 12 has seen increases in this brand of officiating over the past decade, University of Texas Athletic Director and Big 12 Special Adviser of Officiating Mike Perrin says the league is not yet doing enough to create the excitement needed to really put the Big 12 on the front page of the sports world. Pointing to a PowerPoint slide (shown below), Perrin added:
“The Big 12 employed the services of a third party investigative analytics firm to study games over the past decade and give us an ultra-precise look into the quality of officiating in our league and how it has translated into on-field excitement. As you can see, we have an overall positive trend over the past decade, but have been declining over the past few years following the not-fumble in the Texas vs. Iowa State game in 2013.
We experimented this past season with making one REALLY bad call to cover the entire season, but forcing Oklahoma State to lose their contest vs. Central Michigan did not have the effect we anticipated. As a result, for the 2018 season, we have decided to take measures to make this the most exciting officiating season in recent memory.”
The contents of the letters are not known by the general public, but the consensus among college football analysts around the country is that calls are planned to be at the most crucial points of games, and will be wildly unpredictable, almost spiteful at times. ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum chimed in, adding, “I can’t wait to see what sort of new penalties the officials create to add excitement to Big 12 games, and how it will affect the Crimson Tide going forward.”
If the conference’s new direction gains any traction, Big 12 football fans are sure to be in for a memorable 2018 season.