Throughout college football, there is a consensus perception that officials from the Pac-12 are the worst in the nation. This is due in large part to their role in some of the most controversial calls in CFB history.
As No. 1-ranked Notre Dame prepares itself to face defending national champion Alabama, should fans of both teams be worried about poor officiating disrupting what is poised to be one of the best title games in BCS history?
Prior to the start of the 2012 football season, the Pac-12's interim coordinator of football officiating, Mike Pereira, attempted to resuscitate the conference's reputation by making several staffing changes.
According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, 11 of the worst Pac-12 refs were removed in March and 16 were hired from the Big 12, MWC and WAC, and two of the head referees that are remaining will be moved to other positions in the seven-man crews. Unfortunately, some of the released officials will now work as assistants in the replay booth.
Additionally, eight new supervisors were hired, seven to supervise each of the officiating positions, plus one to supervise the replay booth officials.
Notre Dame already had a brush with controversy involving Pac-12 officials earlier this year in its game against Stanford. On 4th-and-goal in overtime, Stanford's Stepfan Taylor eventually wriggled his way across the goal line, but the officials determined that his forward momentum had been arrested, thereby killing the play before he crossed the goal line and giving the Irish the win.
This call bogged Pac-12 officials down in the kind of controversy they had hoped to avoid this season.
Alabama fans on secrant.com have already begun to speculate that Pac-12 officials will show favoritism toward the Fighting Irish in the title game based on the Stanford call. This theory is flawed, however, because there is no logical reason an officiating crew would show favoritism toward a non-conference opponent.
What should concern fans of both Notre Dame and Alabama is the general incompetence regularly demonstrated by Pac-12 officiating crews.
The video attached to this article shows the worst calls officiated by Pac-12 officials in the last nine years. As you can see, there has been no shortage of botched calls. One does not question why they have the reputation of being the worst officiating crew in all of college football.
So what does this mean for the title game?
At best, expect some liberal penalty-calling. At worst, a 2012 national title that will be forever marred by a major controversial call. All we fans can do now is hope that the Pac-12 officials have cleaned up their act and do not adversely affect the title game.
Do you think Pac-12 officials will affect the title game? Please let us know in the comments below.