When it comes to the Pac-12 Conference, two hashtags are synonymous with the conference: #Pac12AfterDark and #Pac12Refs.
In Saturday evening's contest between the Washington Huskies and Oregon State Beavers, both came out in full force.
Facing a 4th and inches early in the fourth quarter from the Huskies four-yard line, Jonathan Smith elected to go for it down just three points. The Beavers head coach called a Jermar Jefferson run up the middle where he appeared to land on his back around the three-yard-line.
It was evident to everyone that Oregon State had converted the first down. Well, everyone but the three officials who inexplicably ruled he lost yardage on the play.
The ruling shocked everyone watching the game: Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake who celebrated as if he won the lottery, Jonathan Smith who was already discussing what plays to call on first-and-goal, Jermar Jefferson who claimed after the contest he doesn't know how he lost yards, Beaver and Husky fans alike online, everyone.
"It was fourth and one, which I don't know how that happened. I don't know how I lost yards," said Jefferson. "I feel like the first run I had to get it was a first down... I thought I definitely had it."
After the game, Jonathan Smith said he was told the crew was looking at it so he didn't challenge it because he didn't want to waste a timeout.
"I was told they were getting reviewed," said Coach Smith. "Third down play they brought the measurement sticks. I asked to see if the call was getting looked at and they said they were looking at it... You get buzzed if it's close and they need to take more time. But they felt after the third down they had plenty of time, I'm assuming here because they're telling me they're looking at it because the play is getting measured. By them telling me that I don't want to challenge and waste a timeout when they tell me they are thoroughly looking at it."
When the game got back from commercial, the announcers stated the call was confirmed.
In the end, the blown call cost the Beavers 94 yards in field position at a minimum, and Oregon State lost 27-21 to fall to 0-2 on the season.
But at least the next day, the conference can come out and apologize for the blown call and admit some wrongdoing? Oh wait, that involves Larry Scott's conference taking responsibility so of course it didn't happen.
Instead, the Pac-12 conference released a statement claiming "there was not irrefutable video evidence to overturn the ruling of on-field game officials during the second play of the fourth quarter in the Oregon State at Washington game Saturday, November 14."
So, there wasn't enough video evidence to overturn the atrocious call? A call so bad that the stars aligned and Twitter nearly unanimously agreed the Beavers got shafted.
But why wasn't there enough video evidence? The Pac-12 and Fox Sports only had six cameras for the contest per John Canzano of The Oregonian, the minimum allowed to carry a game: No pylon cameras, no yard-marker cameras, no cart camera. Basically, no camera angles down the line of scrimmage that could help overturn a blown call near where the ball is snapped.
Instead, the Pac-12 approved the game being broadcast with the bare minimum requirements and trusted its officiating crew to not make a game-altering mistake that couldn't be overturned on replay. Well, when you rely on officials who have their own hashtag for how poor they are at their jobs... that's playing with fire and the Beavers got burned.
Did the Beavers have a chance to win the game late down six points with the ball? Yes. The blown call didn't cost Oregon State the victory, but it heavily decreased the team's win probability.
When the Beavers faced a 3rd-and-inches on the Washington five-yard-line, the Huskies had just a 55.5% win probability according to ESPN. After two blown spots that gifted Washington the ball back due to a turnover on downs, that percentage shot up to 70.9%.
The turnover on downs is the only failed red zone opportunity of the season for Oregon State. They are 6-for-6 otherwise, scoring touchdowns on all six attempts.
The failure of both the officiating crew and the conference for allowing it to happen, for all intents and purposes, cost Oregon State a win. At the least, it cost the Beavers a fourth-quarter, four-point lead when its defense allowed just three second-half points.
By not promising to do better or admitting any fault, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 are sending the message that its reputation nationally as the worst of the five Power-5 conferences is deserved.