Pac-12 Football Faces Officiating Crisis After Top Referees Get Poached By Big Ten

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Pac-12 Conference officials have long been the butt of the joke, but there may not be anymore jokes to make because there many not be any officials left. The ‘Conference of Champions’ is facing an officiating crisis.

Pac-12 officials gather during a media time out at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA.
(Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to Football Zebras, five referees have left the Pac-12 in recent weeks. Four resigned, one retired.

Mike Mothershed hung it up after 28 years with the conference. Chris Coyte, Francisco Villar, Steve Strimling and Jim Wharrie are headed to the Big Ten. Wharrie, although he worked at least three games as a referee last season, more frequently serves as a center judge.

Regardless of what role they serve, all five officials are gone.

Strimling, Coyte and Villar are all based in Southern California. Considering that either USC, UCLA, or both USC and UCLA will be home almost every weekend after joining the Big Ten in 2024, the trio will presumably get to call more local games.

In the meantime, the transition is already underway.

Cotye, Villar and Wharrie were seen on the field at Nebraska’s spring game over the weekend. They got out of the Pac-12 and immediately got to work with their new conference.

Although replacing five referees may not seem like that big of a deal, it is.

The Pac-12’s vice president of officiating, David Coleman, has quite the predicament to solve before the fall. His conference had seven crews last season and this mass exodus will require him to replace more than half of the crew chiefs.

Wharrie likely would have been promoted from center judge to head referee. He’s gone too.

To make matters worse, there is no clear pipeline for the Pac-12 to officials. It has loose ties to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, but is the only Power 5 conference that does not have a strong alliance with another D-I, D-II or D-III conference.

Coleman has no more than four months to get it figured out. The officiating out West was bad before, hopefully this Big Ten migration doesn’t make it even worse!

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.


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  1. NOW the Pac12 has an officiating crisis? Have you seen a Pac12 football game in the last 20 years? This is the conference that got an onside kick call wrong AFTER WATCING REPLAY. Who has called a missed extra point good more than once. Who makes up roughing and unsportsmanlike calls. Who has no idea what holding or pass interference looks like. Who gives out more meme content than another other officiating body. The Big Ten can have as many Pac12 refs as they want.

  2. The quickest way to start a bar fight is to boast “Our conference – The _____ – has the worst officiating in the history of college football”.

    Fans of every other conference will immediately claim “NO … OURS is The Worst” … sigh.

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