Throwing a flag on the Pac-12

Our subject today is... weeeeeeeeeee! (Yellow flag hurled into the air).

"Blogger using rudimentary introduction, 10 words and loss of sentence, second paragraph."

Boy, the officials around the Pac-12 are even after the humble bloggers!

See, we are bad boys out West. We don't behave. We don't follow the rules.

There are 12 Pac-12 teams (duh). There are 120 FBS teams. And every single one of those Pac-12 teams ranks in the bottom half of the FBS rankings for penalty yards per game.

Every. Single. One.

It gets worse. Eight fill up the 20 spots from 100 to 12o, including five of the bottom 10. And the bottom two.

Here's the damage:

120. Arizona State... 78.75

119. California... 74.25

116. Oregon State... 68.67

114. Colorado... 66.62

111. Oregon... 65.69

109. Arizona... 65.50

102. Washington... 63.17

100. UCLA... 62.38

97. Washington State... 61.33

81. Stanford...56.83

75. Utah... 54.33

61. USC... 50.0

(On the positive side, these numbers have been much worse in the past. In 2003, Oregon State averaged 110.2 yards per game in penalties, which is almost comic. It was 16 more than second-to-last in the nation, Washington State).

So the Trojans led the conference in fewest penalty yards per game -- that Lane Kiffin is running a tight ship! -- but that sterling total ranked 61st in the nation. Er, never mind.

The most obvious explanation is Pac-12 teams run complicated offenses and pass a lot -- six rank among the top-26 in passing and nine are in the top-55. Teams that run complicated offenses and pass a lot would tend to commit more penalties, most particularly the costly holding or pass interference calls.

Further, the NCAA's emphasis on stopping head shots this year led to a lot more personal foul penalties on plays in the secondary that previously would have earned players helmet stickers and spots on highlight shows. Those crunching blows from run-away safeties on unprotected receivers don't happen as much on running plays.

I called Pac-12 coordinator of officiating Tony Corrente for an explanation, but he apparently flagged me for potentially annoying phone call and didn't respond to a message. Nor did Pac-12 officiating consultant Mike Pereira. Perhaps they went skiing in the Alps or something?

That's actually a good thing, because they would have given me a reasonable explanation that probably would perfectly counter my position.

Pac-12 officials: When in doubt, keep your hands away from the yellow hankie.

I know, I know: You call them like you see 'em. Just make sure you really, really see them.