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ESPN’s explanation regarding absence of Division I officials misses the mark

Craig Ochoa, Tim Morris, Esteban Garza, Rusty Spindel

Referee Craig Ochoa, center, meets with Line Judge Esteban Garza (39), Field Judge Rusty Spindel (105) and Umpire Tim Morris (68) at the beginning of the first quarter of the Hall of Fame exhibition football game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 in Canton. The Saints won 17-10. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


The replacement officials have gotten plenty of attention on Thursday night, in part because they have made more than a few mistakes.

In the first half of the nationally-televised Packers-Chargers game, ESPN’s Mike Tirico explained that officials from Division I conferences aren’t available because it’s not feasible for them to moonlight, given that they work on Saturdays, the day on which NFL officials typically are preparing for Sundays.

But that wasn’t an impediment 11 years ago, when the NFL used Division I officials during the last lockout of game officials.

The explanation from ESPN creates the impression that the NFL affirmatively chose not to use Division I officials. The more accurate explanation is that the Division I conferences refused to allow moonlighting in 2012.

That’s why the NFL doesn’t have access to top college officials this time around. And that’s why the replacement officials come from the third tier and lower.