Bobby Dibler, Pac-12 Officiating Coordinator, May We Never Hear From You AgainPosted by Adam Butler on October 18th, 2013
He took to the stage rather unassumingly and consequently didn’t look too many people directly in the eye. I don’t believe it was out of discourtesy so much as what appeared to be an effort to answer the question to the room. And beyond. After all, Bobby Dibler has a lot to answer. He enters his tenure as the Pac-12’s Officiating Coordinator in the wake of one of the more bizarre, if not controversial, stripes situations of recent memory. But as Dibler sees it, that is in the past. He didn’t spend much time on the matter and, as he puts it, “I’m a guy that lives life going forward.” And so forward we will go; with 28 rules changes and a brand new officiating crew. A “cutting edge” alliance as Larry Scott would have us see it – consistent with the mission of a cutting edge conference.
Because when the most glaring sight into your conference isn’t surrounding tournament seeds, but rather the striped gentlemen and trips to Cancun, you have an issue. It was the first question asked. This was likely Bobby Dibler’s most public appearance and should be his last. I don’t want to see him address the media again. You don’t want to see him address the media again. He doesn’t want to address the media again. Those sentiments combined and the feeling is, with the proposed officiating improvements, we can move forward with an agenda where referees are neither seen nor heard; their prescribed place and their preferred place. Yet today Dibler was heard and I appreciated the way he handled it. He repeatedly called this “our game.” He said, “Anyone that intrudes on the integrity of our game… it bothers me.” Last spring’s goings-on bugged Dibler and he’s here to fix it. How?
Well he was very excited about the alliance and the coming together of two groups of officials. The clinic brought them all together (both the Pac-12 and Mountain West) with a focus on screening (part of the new rules we’ll get in to), traveling, the infamous block/charge, and positioning. Stemming from his breakdown of the clinic, he dropped my second favorite quote of the session when he let us know that what some veteran officials learned made them “feel good.” And while I may quote here in jest – it really was kind of cute – it’s a sign the clinic was working. Learning does feel good and educated officials are good officials and good officials are why Bobby Dibler has a job. But what is a good official? Well it’s someone who is upholding the integrity of the game and if you’re not, well then you’re bothering Bobby. Don’t bother Bobby. He’s implementing a grading system, an extensive one, in which officials will be regularly reviewed, coached and graded by a technical crew watching their correct calls, incorrect calls, correct non-calls, and incorrect non-calls. As one Twitter follower asked, “So they’ll review the reviews?” Yes, and as Pac-12 fans know, reviews are kind of a big deal. I digress. But with regards to the reviewing world, it seems there will be more opportunities for officials to head to the monitors. Dibler outlined a number of different scenarios in which HD cameras will be consulted to ensure the right call is made, particularly in a game’s final two-minutes and half time. This embracing of technology is a double-edged sword in that it helps to get the game right, but it can also slow the game down. Aha! That is why there is the new finger wave. What’s that you might ask? Well if there is a controversial or difficult to distinguish two- or three-pointer that doesn’t occur in the final four minutes of a half (no more media timeouts coming) the official can wave his index finger circularly to let the sideline referee know that the most recent play needs to be reviewed. At the subsequent break it will be evaluated as a two or three and – BOOM! – you’ve got the right call with no game stoppage. Technology meets efficiency.
But those aren’t the only rule changes. One thing I found significantly interesting was the highlighting of a nomenclature change. Dibler informed us that “points of officiating emphasis” would now be called “officiating concerns.” He then went in to what his PowerPoint deck called, “MAJOR OFFICIATING CONCERNS” and this is what they are: 1) Hand checking, 2) Freedom of movement, 3) Block/Charge. Let’s address the first one – hands – by quoting Dibler in the least encouraging moment of the day, “We are probably going to see more whistles than we have in the past.” Well dammit. Two hands on a player? Automatic whistle. Straighten out an arm bar? Whistle. If the Pac-12 was already thought of as a touch foul league, the rules changes would seem to do little to dispel that stigma. The second concern was off the ball where officials are being instructed to keep a keener eye on screens and illegality away from the dribbling. I imagine we’ll see more calls against bigs in this realm as they set picks to get their shooters open. And speaking of offensive fouls, the charge sounds a lot like a foul that will be much more difficult to obtain. The theatrics of that call will be limited to situations where the defensive player can find himself in a defensive position before the offensive player is in their upward motion to pass or shoot. Or be wearing a Duke jersey, but that point was still unclear.
And those were the officiating concerns. As stated, there were 28 adjustments to the rules and Dibler let us know beforehand that his presentation was not going to be particularly entertaining. It’s rules after all. But it’s was a good presentation from a man in a tough position following all that we saw and heard out of Vegas a few months ago. The changes, the clinic, the affiliation, all of it is piecing together to make sure that we are moving forward and that any hatchets are buried. Dibler said he did talk to Sean Miller in light of the past… and every other coach in the conference to familiarize himself with the men most likely to take issue with his team’s work.
So in closing, I’d like to share my favorite quote of the presentation. Dibler – and to be honest I can’t really contextualize this quote because I don’t know where it came from – let us know that he tries to “wake up with sunshine in my sky every morning.” Well I wish that for you, Mr. Dibler. And I hope, with respect, that we don’t have to hear from you again.