Conflict of interest in Pac-10 officiating?

Questioning officiating has long been a sport unto itself, but Pac-10 football officiating in recent years seems to have received more than its share of criticism. And much of it has been well deserved.

No exception this season. For example, it's abundantly clear that USC coach Lane Kiffin has a legitimate gripe about how the time was kept at Stanford last weekend.

And this Kerry Eggers column also raises another legitimate question: Should a replay official work a game involving his alma mater in his hometown, as was the case when Oregon State visited Arizona on Saturday?

What I can tell you is Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has noted the frustration with Pac-10 officiating. My guess is Eggers' piece will end up on his desk.

The issue here isn't about whether an official is biased, though feel free to indulge in conspiracy theories (as an Atlanta Braves fan, I still need to spit every time I hear the name "Eric Gregg," who basically decided Florida pitchers would throw only strikes against the Braves in the 1997 NLCS).

It's about doing everything possible to ensure there are no grounds for an accusation of conflict of interest. That way when mistakes are made it's about screwing up rather than being compromised, which is far more insidious.

Odds are Jim Fogltance is an outstanding official and is doing his job as best he can. But it would be in the best interest of the Pac-10 if he doesn't work any more Arizona games in the future, unless it's the spring game.