Big Ten Officials Seek Balance Between Time and Transparency
Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Officials Seek Balance Between Time and Transparency

July 24, 2018

CHICAGO — If coaches and players have to address the media post-game, should officials be required to do the same?

That question was posed to Bill Carollo, Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials, during his time at the Big Ten Media Days podium Tuesday morning. The reporter asking the question specifically wanted to know the place of an official in owning a potential in-game mistake.

"We do have a mechanism in place today to address your concern. It's a pool reporter after the game," Carollo said. "If there's one or two calls in the game that specifically you want to have a better understanding [of], a definition of why that was targeting, why this person was disqualified from the game or why it wasn't or was it a touchdown.

"The problem is when you want the official to walk to the podium like this without seeing any tape, any video of that, they certainly can address it with the pool reporter, but certainly right now across the country the NCAA doesn't allow that. And conference policy is the same, except for the pool reporter."

The pool reporter is key. While the Big Ten rarely comments on officiating, a pool reporter may be utilized in certain situations if immediate clarification is warranted. 

The Big Ten has considered changing the policy around how they communicate those clarifications, but nothing formal has come of it yet.

Carollo knows there is scrutiny surrounding officials. His primary issue with allowing immediate communication between an official and the media is that the person who made the call hasn't had time to review the play.

"The guy who called it? Never sees it on film," Carollo said. "He might see it in the big stadium, but that's not the evaluation. We go really deep. Is it right or wrong? Whose guy is it? Who's responsible? Who could have helped? All that, mechanics and judegment. The reality on plays like that, we aren't really prepared when they say, 'What about that?' I didn't call it because I didn't see it. They're [asking] why didn't we make the call on the quarterback and well, I transitioned from the quarterback to the next play. You're asking me questions where I need to look at the video.

"Now, I may make a statement within 24 hours. You know, from the conference office."

When it comes to the coaches, Carollo asks each to call him after 24 hours. He prefers not to receive a phone call from the locker room post-game, mostly because he's at a disadvantage without having seen the film.

"Now do I hold them to that? If they call, I pick up," Carollo admitted.

If the coaches can wait, though? The discussion is typically better. By Sunday morning, Carollo has a better idea of whether or not the official made the right call.

As for calls that do warrant public statements?

"If it's a big enough mistake, the commissioner and I get together and make a public statement," Carollo said. "I've done two or three in 10 years."

More than anything, Carollo thinks the volume of games prevents clear communication so quickly after a game. He wants to review the tape, and what the replay actually saw and the angle used when making and overturning a call. TV can be misleading, too. That's why he relies on the technology in the booth that allows the officials to tie and sync different angles of a play together.

Carollo knows officiating isn't a perfect science. Replays and technology are helping, but there will still be the occasional incorrect call. For Carollo, it's important that coaches, players and fans know that can happen. Transpareny is key in that conversation.

"Let's get it right if we can, and take our lumps when we make a mistake," Carollo said.

But don't expect an official to meet with the media right after the game. At least not any time soon. While Carollo believes in transparency, he'd still like a little time to review it first.

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