Some questions to chew on over Thanksgiving turkey:
Q — Does Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott believe in the U.S. Constitution?
A — Probably, in general. He just has a few problems with the Bill of Rights portion, as his recent reprimand of University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian suggests.
Conference officials informed Sarkisian last week that a penalty that nullified a Husky touchdown in a 41-31 loss to UCLA the previous Friday should not have been called. Sarkisian relayed that information to the media at his weekly news conference, added that the apology wasn’t worth the seven points the call cost his team and dropped the subject.
For that, he was reprimanded by Scott for divulging the contents of private communications.
I’m all for punishing coaches who question the competence or integrity of game officials. Coaches who habitually harass refs should, in my view, be subject to suspensions instead of being merely fined.
Sarkisian did nothing, however, except agree with the conference administrators that a mistake had been made. Considering the unusually high number of questionable calls that have plagued the Huskies this year (it’s become almost a running joke that any replay review this season will go against the Dawgs), he’s been amazingly restrained in his comments.
The Pac-12, for whatever reason, has a pretty bad reputation for the quality of its football and basketball officiating. The best defense, in Scott’s case, is to not take offense at even mild criticisms.
Most professional sports leagues, incidentally, make public their apologies over officiating mistakes.
Q — What is the most startling statistic in state high school postseason competition?
A — A case can be made that it is the 9-0 record that soccer teams from private Class 1A and Class B high schools had against their public-school counterparts in the state playoffs.
That’s right, a public-school team didn’t win a single one of those match-ups in the lower classifications.
Because they are not subject to the residency requirements that govern public schools (a standout football player for O’Dea of Seattle a couple of decades ago actually lived in Port Angeles), private schools frequently have been accused of possessing an unfair advantage over public-school teams.
Without any facts to support this impression, the advantage appears particularly pronounced in soccer. Players from elite club teams coincidentally often seem to assemble as a unit at the same private schools.
This also appears to be primarily a small-school phenomenon. Every state finalist in the 2A, 3A and 4A classifications represented public schools.
Q — With baseball trade and free-agent wars heating up, when will the Seattle Mariners spring into action?
A — The guess here is that general manager Jack Zduriencik has something cooking, since he didn’t bother to inform pitching coach Carl Willis that he was fired until Willis called to inquire about his status for next year. It’s a good thing Willis didn’t show up at spring training unannounced.
More seriously, Zduriencik is operating under a severe handicap partly of his own making. Because of the team’s futility in recent years, no high-profile free agent wanting to play for a contender will sign with Seattle.
That means the M’s will have to deal away quality players to obtain quality players. Zduriencik’s record in obtaining equal value in trades has been spotty at best — and dismal at worst.
The pending retirement of club president Chuck Armstrong, meanwhile, should help the franchise — if club ownership replaces him with a knowledgeable baseball figure. A former executive for a furniture manufacturer, Armstrong is a good businessman who deserves credit for helping to save baseball in Seattle. As a baseball team under his leadership, however, the M’s often resembled a struggling furniture outlet.
Q — The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings played to the first tie since the National Football League revised its overtime rules. Was the deadlock an indictment of the revised format?
A — Not in my book.
To clarify, the NFL tweaked its procedure for sudden-death overtime a couple of years ago. Instead of always awarding the victory to the first team that scored in OT, the league now requires the receiving team in the extra session to tally a touchdown on its first possession in order to end the contest. In every other scenario, excluding a safety, the kicking team is guaranteed at least one possession, with the contest becoming sudden-death from that point on.
The Packers and Vikings exchanged field goals on their opening overtime possessions, then went scoreless for the remainder of the extra period.
Ties are seldom a satisfactory outcome. They are still more equitable than awarding victory to a team simply because it won a coin toss and moved the ball perhaps 30 yards to advance into field-goal range.
In addition, from what I observed, neither the Packers nor the Vikings deserved to win that game.
Rick Anderson is The Daily World sports editor. He can be reached at (360) 537-3924 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.