Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi had a lot to say after his team’s loss to Virginia Tech. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had even more to say after his team’s loss to Clemson.
They were both fined by the ACC on Sunday for their comments. Both coaches were right to speak their minds, too.
The officiating in the ACC hasn’t been good enough or consistent enough this season. There are good officials in the league, and it’s a tremendously difficult and thankless task. But as a collective group, they haven’t been up to the task this season.
It’s not a matter of being pro one team or another, rather there’s a general lack of competence across the board. Just turn on a game, or worse, go to a game and sit through one needless review after another.
Whether we like it or not, college sports has become a big business. There are hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, and in the pockets of those who run the leagues and work for the schools (but no money for the “student-athletes,” of course).
Let’s stop acting like this is the Girl Scouts and the conference office needs to sell 25 more boxes of Tagalongs to afford smart, well-trained, competent officials. Use the money from TV and invest in your own league.
Fisher was set off by a block below the waist penalty in the second half of his team’s 37-34 home loss to Clemson. That particular call has been difficult to define this season. Just watch any N.C. State game.
But when a 50-yard gain by Dalvin Cook was wiped out, Fisher wasn’t going to take it any more.
“I’m going to tell you what, you hold coaches accountable, players accountable, hold the damn officials accountable,” Fisher said after the game, according to Tomahawk Nation. “It’s garbage.”
“Now they can take it, fine it, do whatever they want to do with it, that’s a fact. Look at the film. It’s ridiculous that they do it. That was a huge call in the game.”
The ACC accepted Fisher’s challenge and fined him $20,000 for a violation of the conference’s sportsmanship policy. Narduzzi was docked $5,000 for his comments about how he felt Virginia Tech was able to roll up 406 passing yards.
“I thought the coverage was real good,” Narduzzi said after his team’s 39-36 loss on Thursday night, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I thought there were some things that were one-sided that irked me.
“We had guys in position to make plays, and we didn’t make them.
“Give the quarterback some credit. He put some balls out there. (Their receivers) did a great job of pushing off all night. Give them credit for that.”
Look, officiating a college football game and picking out penalties in real time is hard and getting more difficult by the year as the game gets faster and technology improves to pick up more errors.
The ACC is hardly alone in the search for good, consistent officials. But the league has improved its financial standing with a new television contract with ESPN because of its improved play on the field. The league owes it to the coaches and players to improve officiating.
Publicly reprimanding officials for critical mistakes, as the NBA does, would be a good start. Hold the officials accountable, as Fisher points out, like everyone else.
The other, more difficult holistic improvements have to come in the offseason with better training and development of talent. That’s going to cost money.
The improvement won’t come overnight, or just because two coaches spoke up, rather when the ACC accepts it has a problem. Then it can take the necessary steps to fix it.
A weekly review of who’s trending up and down across college football:
↑ Coastal Division: Now you’re getting in the spirit, Duke and Virginia, for claiming moral victories after closes losses to big, bad Louisville from the Atlantic Division. The Cardinals, by the way, are lucky they are not on the Coastal side. Their two cross-division wins were by an average of 8.5 points. Their three division wins were by an average of 39.3 points.
↑ Texas: The Longhorns did the College Football Playoff committee a favor and knocked Baylor from the ranks of the unbeaten. The committee certainly didn’t want to be in a position to have to reward a scandal-ridden Baylor program.
The Horns’ 35-34 win might not save Charlie Strong’s job but it’s at least an indication his players are still listening to and fighting for him.
↓ N.C. State: The Wolfpack is 4-4 on the season and 0-2 in must-win games. Saturday’s 21-14 home loss to Boston College is difficult for even the most ardent of Wolfpack fans to reconcile.
↓ Tennessee: Surprisingly, the Vols didn’t move up in the top 25 after Saturday’s 24-21 road loss to hapless South Carolina. Butch Jones’ crew is 5-3 on the season with a lucky win over Appalachian State and even luckier win over Georgia.
But this is the SEC, y’all, and all conference losses are good. Or at least worth twice as much as any ACC or Big Ten win.