Memo to Pac 10: Read the Rulebook

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

The controversy surrounding BYU's weekend loss at Arizona State continues today, only because the Pac 10's coordinator of basketball officials has re-opened the can of worms with comments to's Andy Katz.

In an article posted today, Katz quotes Bill McCabe, who has officiated many BYU Football games (home and away), and also serves as Supervisor of Men's Basketball Officals in the Pac 10 Conference:


"Kevin Brill (one of the officials for the BYU-ASU game) said it was the toughest call he has had to make in his college career," McCabe said. "But Brill got it right. When the red light goes on, the ball is still in [Abouo's] hands."

McCabe said the red light is key if it can be in the picture with the shot. "The red light is on and the ball is in his hands," McCabe said. "They slowed it down, frame-by-frame, and the ball was still in his hands," McCabe said.

(Dave) Rose said, "The play on the floor stands unless there is conclusive evidence. I'm not sure what they're watching."

Rose said he couldn't see the play as being conclusive.McCabe said Rose was confusing football and basketball: In hoops, the play doesn't have to be conclusive to overturn; rather, the ball can't be in the player's hands if the red light is on and the clock is at zero. The horn isn't used as a first indicator because the timing of the horn can be off and because hearing it can be an issue in a loud arena."


That's what was written today in the Katz column. There's only one problem with McCabe's insistence that the red light is the key indicator in last-second shot situations: he's wrong.

As I cited in one of my blog entries yesterday, NCAA Basketball Rule 2, Section 13, Article 4 states:

"In games with a 10th-of-a-second game clock display and where an official courtside monitor is used, the reading of zeros on the game clock is to be used to determine whether a try for goal, a shot-clock violation or a foul occurred before or after the expiration of time in any period. When the game clock is not visible, the officials shall verify the original call with the use of the red/LED light(s). When the red/LED light(s) are not visible, the sounding of the game-clock horn shall be utilized. When definitive information is unattainable with the use of the monitor, the original call stands."


Two key elements are clearly outlined:

1) the clock reading, and NOT the red light or horn, is the determining factor. When McCabe says "But Brill got it right. When the red light goes on, the ball is still in [Abouo's] hands," he is not going by the book, plain and simple.

2) "Definitive information" (i.e. "conclusive evidence") IS required to overturn a last-second call. If it is "unattainable," the original call stands. McCabe is quoted as saying "Rose was confusing football and basketball: in hoops, the play doesn't have to be conclusive to overturn; rather, the ball can't be in the player's hands if the red light is on and the clock is at zero." Once again, the Pac 10's head official is ignoring the very standards stipulated in the rulebook he is supposed to know, implement and enforce.

Rose was not "confused;" rather McCabe and his officials appear to have been the confused ones. It is one thing to get the call wrong; it is another to be unaware of the standards to be applied in making the call.

The more I reflect on the game-ending scenario from Saturday, the less confident I am that the officials were even fully aware of the rule they were attempting to interpret. And while it is a shame, considering the Pac 10's checkered reputation relative to its officiating philosophies and practices, it is not altogether unexpected.


Regardless of the apparent misapplication of the rulebook, the play itself was simply too close to call, no matter what the original call had been. Had the officials originally said the basket was "no good," Rose and BYU might have been forced to concede that it was impossible to know with complete surety whether Charles Abouo had released the shot in time. But the original call was a made basket, and it should have been the call that determined the outcome.


It was of course interesting to note that a clock controversy clouded the end of last night's Utah-Utah State game in Logan. In that instance, the officials, through use of a replay monitor and a stopwatch, used their judgment (as outlined in Rule 2-13-2-c-2) to determine time elapsed and remaining, since the game clock did not start on the Aggies' final offensive possession.

The situation in Logan was much more definitive than was the BYU-ASU game-ender, yet the officials in Logan appeared to take more time and consider more deliberation than the officials in Phoenix, who had a much tougher call to make (indeed the "toughest" call in the career of one of the officials involved, we are told).

In Logan, the right call was made, and there is little dispute that the correct outcome was reached. In Phoenix, things were fuzzy, and remain so today.


Most recent Sports stories


From first downs to buzzer beaters, get’s top sports stories delivered to your inbox weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast