Big Ten: Dave Parry
- Former longtime Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials Dave Parry passed away Monday morning. Parry spent 19 seasons supervising Big Ten football officials before becoming the first national coordinator for college football officiating in 2009. He played a big role in the Big Ten introducing instant replay to college football.
- As many of you already know, former Ohio State running back Eddie George has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The announcement came earlier Monday on ESPN's "College Football Live." Check out the video. George won the Heisman Trophy in 1995, and absolutely no one should be surprised he's entering the Hall.
The full 2011 College Football Hall of Fame class will be announced Tuesday, and I'll be breaking down each selection from the Big Ten and Nebraska.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten might lack a top 5 team, but the league leads the nation in suspending its own players.
Ohio State star safety Kurt Coleman on Monday became the third Big Ten player in as many weeks to be issued a one-game suspension from the conference office.
Coleman will sit out this week's game at Indiana because of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee in the final minutes of Saturday's 30-0 Ohio State victory. Officials flagged Coleman for a personal foul, and though he wasn't ejected, he left the field and did not return.
In issuing Coleman's suspension, the Big Ten cited a new NCAA rule requiring conference to review flagrant personal fouls, especially those involving helmet-to-helmet contact and "targeting an opponent."
From the Big Ten's news release:
In the 2009-10 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations, Rule 9-6, Article 2, states: “When there is a foul called for initiating contact/targeting an opponent [Rule 9-1-3] that does not result in a player disqualification, there shall automatically be a video review by the conference for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game.” Rule 9-1, Article 3.a., states in part that “no player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with the crown [top] of his helmet.” Rule 9-1, Article 3.b., states in part that “no player shall initiate contact and target a defenseless opponent above the shoulders."
The Big Ten reviewed the play and consulted with NCAA National Coordinator of Officials Dave Parry before imposing the one-game suspension for Coleman.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and head football coach Jim Tressel issued a joint statement Monday disagreeing with the league's decision.
"Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten Conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout," Ohio State's statement reads. "We concur that Kurt’s hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches. We do not agree that it was 'premeditated' or that he was 'targeting a defenseless' player. The decision to suspend points to the conference office's feeling as if there was poor judgment by the game officials for their decision not to eject at the time. In our estimation, the final 'poor judgment' is in levying a one-game suspension in this particular case. We will abide by the decision, learn from it, and move forward."
Wow. It doesn't seem like the Big Ten's recent string of suspensions is sitting well with its members.
The league suspended Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton for punching Notre Dame's Eric Olsen in a Sept. 12 game, while Purdue offensive lineman Zach Reckman was suspended for Saturday's game against Notre Dame after a late hit at the end of the Northern Illinois loss.
The difference here is neither Mouton nor Reckman drew penalties for their actions. Michigan wouldn't have suspended Mouton had the league not intervened, while Purdue planned a one-quarter suspension for Reckman.
Coleman is a co-captain at Ohio State and by all accounts a fabulous representative for the team and the university. Ohio State understandably hates to see a guy like Coleman cast in a negative light.
The league, by the way, had no comment on Ohio State's response when I checked in this afternoon.
By suspending a prominent player like Coleman, the Big Ten reiterated the message that on-field conduct will be closely examined and severely punished, if necessary. It'll be interesting to see if other conferences follow suit or not.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
National signing day is complete and spring ball doesn't start for more than a month, so good links are few and far between. Here are a few to whet your appetite.
- The population shift to the South and Southeast has changed and arguably hindered Ohio State's recruiting efforts, Bob Hunter writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
"Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and his staff have done an excellent job of identifying the best players in Ohio and keeping them here, and because OSU has been so successful in recent years, Tressel has landed some of the best players in surrounding states, as well. But in the end, that's not a huge issue in Florida or Texas."
- Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier is catching on quickly at Michigan and could have an edge in the competition to become the starter, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News.
"A Californian, Forcier has immersed himself in Michigan football, working out three times a week with the strength and conditioning program, participating in 7-on-7 drills twice a week and throwing on a daily basis.
'I've learned more from [quarterbacks] coach [Rod] Smith and coach [Rich Rodriguez] in a week or two than I've learned my whole life,' he said. 'They're going to make me such a better player.'
- Former Big Ten supervisor of officials Dave Parry reflects on his career with the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein. Some good stories here.
- Illinois is getting a jump start on 2010 recruiting, and head coach Ron Zook switched the responsibilities of assistant Kurt Beathard, who will now tutor quarterbacks, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- Budget concerns at Minnesota have put head coach Tim Brewster's contract extension on hold for the time being, Sid Hartman writes in the Star Tribune.
- Penn State's 2009 recruiting class drew a wide range of reviews, Philip Cmor writes in The Altoona Mirror.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Here's the second half of my interview with new Big Ten coordinator of football officials Bill Carollo. For Part I, click here.
When you were talking with [former Big Ten coordinator of football officials Dave Parry] throughout last year, were you going over mistakes every week to give you a reference of what might come up?
Bill Carollo: Dave has been very open, very transparent and very helpful during the transition. I had worked with Dave in the NFL and known him for a long time and had the utmost respect for him. So we did talk on a weekly basis, not so much on every play and every mistake, but if something made the papers or something was going to hit the papers, he and I probably talked about it. We talked about how he was going to handle it. That helped me better understand the magnitude of the problem and what's going to happen and the process that the Big Ten would go through, whether it's the officials or the media or how it's viewed. It could have come across as a controversial call, but you know what? We were right. Or you know what? We [blew] that call. It's not a whole lot different than the NFL. If you make a big mistake and it's a national game, it's going to hit every paper across the country. So that experience from a management side has been good.
How do you work with an issue when it comes up like that? We didn't talk about every single mistake, and it isn't so much the mistake. It's how can we prevent that mistake from happening a second time. The whole idea isn't just to say, 'Incorrect call.' It's how can we get the call correct next time? What's the better way to communicate that on replay? What's the better way on the field, before we throw the flag, to figure out do we have a foul or not? And you know what, we're still going to have mistakes. I'm going to put together an extensive training program for our guys and give them the opportunity to get better, but we're human. And whether it's the guys in the booth or the guys on the field or myself, we're human and we make mistakes. We have some pretty good people working Sundays and we average about three and a half mistakes a game. The college game makes mistakes, also. The whole idea is to measure our mistakes so it doesn't happen again, give some training and then look at the next year or the next game and say, 'Can we lower those mistakes?' That's how you measure improvement.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Only 11 days have passed since Bill Carollo officiated his final NFL game in the AFC championship, but the longtime pro referee is quickly switching his focus from Sundays to Saturdays.
Carollo took over as Big Ten coordinator of football officials on Jan. 1 after being named to the position last year. Following two decades in the NFL, where he officiated two Super Bowls and eight conference championship games, Carollo returns to the college ranks, where he served as a Big Ten official from 1980-88.
Carollo worked closely with outgoing Big Ten coordinator of officials Dave Parry throughout the 2008 season, corresponding every Monday to review the weekend's games, the key calls and the duties of the league's top officiating administrator. Carollo also traveled to the Holiday Bowl and spent time with the Big Ten officiating crew working the game.
"Every week, I spent several hours talking to Dave about situations, how he was doing it and how I'd like to do it," Carollo said. "Obviously, it's in good shape, and I'm trying to continue to improve it."
A Wisconsin native who still lives in the Milwaukee area, Carollo is spending several days a week at the Big Ten offices in Park Ridge, Ill. I caught up with him this afternoon to discuss his new job, the transition back to the college game and his plans for Big Ten officiating going forward. The second half of my interview with Carollo will be posted Friday morning.
How many Big Ten officials do you know, just from crossing paths over the years?
Bill Carollo: I probably knew 80-plus percent pretty well. There's probably 10 percent I've met at clinics over the years, but that I maybe didn't know well. But some of them I actually refereed with. Some of them are replay people, some are technical advisors, a couple just came off the field. Since I stayed in the Midwest, it was relatively easy. I've already had all the head referees in two weeks ago for a day and a half. I did a 1-on-1 [meeting] for an hour with every referee, so they could know me a little bit better. At the same time, I wanted to understand some of their goals, what's on their mind, good things, bad things, so forth. And then we met as a team and spent an entire day with anybody who had worked a Big Ten game as a referee, young guys as well as our most veteran officials. And I had some outside help. Jerry Markbreit, who was from the NFL, from Chicago, former Big Ten guy, excellent trainer, does the training for the NFL officials, I had him come in and talk. We didn't talk about roughing the quarterback or roughing the kicker, X's and O's for football. We talked about leadership and professionalism. We spent about a day and a half doing that. I also presented to them what my vision, what the program's going to look like. But we never put up one football play. So there's some things I wanted to communicate with the head referees first, making sure they understood what I expected of them, how the program would change or maybe expand with some additional responsibility and also accountability for the head referees. And then the week after next, I'll meet with all the replay people that we have. I will be getting with each subgroup within the Big Ten in the next 90 days.
You mention additional responsibilities for the head referees. Does that relate to crew evaluations, game-day duties, anything specific?
BC: I kind of laid out the program and said, 'I can't do all these things by myself.' Some of it has to do with technology enhancements. Some has to do with giving them a little bit more responsibility with their crew, and in the offseason, helping me do some of the training and run some of the clinics and manage some of the communication lines to everybody on their crew. When we go to spring games, I would like to see a mini clinic and start recruiting or training some of the local people at each of the schools. Instead of going in and doing a spring game, let's not waste that opportunity. Let's spend some time with the coaches and the local officials. Let's invite them in so we can help train and give a little bit more back as far as running the mini clinic in conjunction with the spring games. I'll also ask them to do a little bit more as far as taking the lead on some of the new technology, making sure their crews are trained properly. I spent a lot of time on leadership and professionalism because if they're going to wear the white hat and be a crew leader in the Big Ten, they represent the Big Ten. So here are the things I'm going to expect you to do on and off the field, and some of it has to do with football training. I think it was well received. Change is always tough. People don't like change, but they're excited about it so far.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- It's a little odd to enter Rich Falk's spacious office and see all of the furniture pushed into the corners. Falk, a former Northwestern basketball coach, explains that he and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, a former basketball captain at North Carolina, use the space to conduct defense demonstrations. It's the coach and player in them.
Falk points to the TV across from his desk and the item sitting above it. "That's the bad-call brick," he said. "It's foam rubber. I've been known to throw it once in a while."
As the Big Ten's associate commissioner for officiating programs and the primary supervisor for men's basketball officials, Falk spends most of the winter looking out for bad calls. He oversees every element of men's basketball officiating, from hiring officials to scheduling to payroll to evaluations to rules interpretations to arena security/atmosphere. Here's what I learned about each area:
- Big Ten officials usually need 3-5 years of experience coaching in another league and must have worked a conference semifinal, a conference final or an NCAA tournament game before being hired. In some cases (usually nonconference games), less-experienced officials are used, mainly to reduce travel costs.
- The league's compliance department conducts background checks on each official. The checks are now done annually after allegations of sexual harassment and child abuse surfaced about a football referee last year.
- Falk makes the game assignments, which hinge on each official's rating. He never assigns an official more than three games a week, but since college basketball officials don't work for leagues, they can take on as many games as possible. "I don't get many rejections," Falk said. Because the officials are independent contractors, no work restrictions can be placed on them, and Falk admits that fatigue will affect performance.
- Falk manages a $3.3 million budget that is used to compensate the officials. Though Big Ten member schools provide the funds, the league makes the payments directly. Falk said officials don't like getting paid by school officials, particularly in the locker room, as it hints of bias.
- Officials are evaluated after every game, receiving a rating between 1-5 (1 is the best). Falk and a staff of on-site officiating observers fill out evaluations, and the head referee must complete evaluations of himself and his two umpires. All evaluations are sent to the NCAA.
- Officials also receive mid-year and end-of-season ratings, compiled by averaging the ratings from on-site observers, Big Ten coaches and Falk.
- Officials consistently receiving ratings around 1 usually become referees, while those in the 2-3 range are first and second umpires. Falk investigates any ratings of 4 and 5, usually making a call to the official in question. "We can hire and drop people at will," he said. The officials receiving the highest ratings get the most assignments and, in turn, the best chance for exposure. Those with diminishing ratings over time receive fewer assignments. "Big Ten games are on TV, in front of [the NCAA] tournament committee," Falk said. "That serves the officials well for selection into the tournament."
- The coaches also evaluate officials and can lodge complaints to Falk, by phone or by sending video of disputed calls. Surprisingly, Falk estimates he received fewer than five calls from Big Ten coaches last season. Coaches fill out midseason evaluations of the officials that only Falk and Delany are allowed to see. "Coaches need to know they have input," Falk said. "They do not have control." The Big Ten and other leagues face severe penalties if they ever blacklist an official based on recommendations from coaches.
- Before the season, Falk visits every Big Ten school, meeting with players and coaches to discuss new rules and other officiating changes. He also meets with the game-operations staff -- scorer's table officials, the public-address announcer, even the band directors -- to ensure the environments are secure and appropriate for officials.
- He usually sticks around for an exhibition game to observe the game operations. "Officials need to know they're respected and can relax and do their job," Falk said.
During the season, Falk spends much of his time in the Big Ten's TV command center, located on the first floor of the league office. The room contains TVs tuned to every Big Ten game and phones so that Falk and other league officials can reach the networks broadcasting the games to interpret rules or make corrections. Dave Parry, the Big Ten's coordinator of football officials, spends every fall Saturday in the room.
Big Ten assistant commissioner for technology Mike McComiskey joins Parry in the control room during the fall. In addition to running the Big Ten's Web site and working with the league's television partners, McComiskey monitors instant replay. If there's a technical issue in the control room or a major instant replay malfunction around the league, McComiskey steps in. After being the "test conference" for instant replay, McComiskey said the system has functioned well since being turned over to a third party. Hi-Definition currently is too expensive to incorporate with instant replay, but McComiskey expects it to be added in the next 1-2 years. The Big Ten could be the first league to try Hi-Def with its instant replay.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten and the Mid-American Conference will combine their instant replay systems for the 2008 season, further strengthening the bond between the two leagues and providing another hint that nationalization of college football officiating could be on the way. The Big Ten will oversee the program this season, with coordinator of officials Dave Parry working alongside Carl Paganelli, the MAC's coordinator of officials from 1997-2007. Paganelli will facilitate the transition for new MAC coordinator of officials Rich Fetchiet.
"We strongly believe that this marks the next natural step in regionalizing another of the important functions of college football officiating, with a goal towards further increased consistency and professionalism," MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said in a statement. "For several years, the Big Ten and MAC have been collaborating in those areas that make sense; particularly in regard to combined clinics and preseason training and development. As the importance of the instant replay function continues to grow, this broader approach should help increase performance from all those involved."
Parry mentioned last week at Big Ten media days that a merger with the MAC was on the way, so this is no surprise. The two leagues have combined on several initiatives, including scheduling. The Big Ten initiated the use of instant replay, and the MAC was quick to come on board. Expect to see more of these mergers between conference officials in the future.
Here's a list of games involving Big Ten and MAC teams this fall:
Aug. 30: Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Akron at Wisconsin
Sept. 6: Miami (Ohio) at Michigan, Eastern Michigan at Michigan State, Ohio at Ohio State
Sept. 20: Ball State at Indiana, Central Michigan at Purdue, Ohio at Northwestern, Temple at Penn State
Oct. 11: Toledo at Michigan
Nov. 1: Central Michigan at Indiana
Nov. 8: Western Michigan vs. Illinois (in Detroit)
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Dave Parry is entering his 19th and final season as Big Ten coordinator of officials, and he still shows up to work prepared. A pile of sheets detailing college football's 2008 rule changes accompanied Parry as he met with reporters Friday morning at Big Ten media days. In addition to discussing the officials' greater emphasis on player safety and sportsmanship this fall, Parry explained the new clock rules, the most dramatic of the changes.
College football will adopt a 40-second play clock that will wind at the end of the preceding play, rather than the old 25-second clock that started after the ball was marked ready for play. The 25-second clock still will be used in several instances, such as after a timeout or following a possession change. But for the most part, the clock in college football will operate like the NFL. The other key change involves out of bounds plays. The clock will start on the referee's signal rather than the snap, except for the last two minutes of each half.
I asked Parry if he was concerned about delay of game penalties, at least early in the season.
"I don't think so," he said. "Coaches know it. They've done it in their spring games. Really, when a guy goes down in bounds, you've got a lot of time, if you think about it. If he makes four yards, you put your hand up, second down, and you have 40 seconds to snap it. So there shouldn't be delay of games. There'll be some, of course, because of substitutions and confusions, but as far as keeping the pace of the game going, it'll be good and comfortable."
Former NFL official Bill Carollo will take over for Parry on Jan. 1, and Parry will become the first National Coordinator for College Football Officiating. He will be responsible for maintaining "uniformity and consistency" with officiating mechanics, rules interpretation and rule philosophies.
Parry also will coordinate officiating clinics around the country and help produce videos like the Points of Emphasis program that was played at the start of Big Ten media days. He'll work closely with officiating coordinators from various conferences, and admits college football officiating soon could be nationalized.
"We're doing a lot of things that are pushing that direction," Parry said. "[Friday afternoon], our clinic will include the Big East, the ACC, the Big Ten and the MAC. In Dallas, I think there's five conferences meeting. So you're seeing more and more coming together, doing things together. ... There's discussion to have East, West and Midwest officiating organizations. All the bowl games are neutral crews, as well as the replay officials. I wouldn't be surprised, for starters, that certain nonconference games, we'd say, 'Hey, neutral crew, neutral replay,' so we don't create a perception that somebody got some home cookin' in a big game."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Thursday marks the official start to the Big Ten football season, as players and coaches from all 11 teams meet the media at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Unlike some of the other conferences, which sprinkle several teams into media sessions that span two or three days, the Big Ten throws everybody at us at once. Having covered Big Ten media days for the last six years, the format can be a little overwhelming, but not too awful.
Here's how things will work. The two-day event begins Thursday at 10:15 a.m. Central time with a short video showing key points for college football officials in the 2008 season. After the video, the 11 coaches will conduct 15-minute question-and-answer sessions on the dais. Each coach then leaves the ballroom and usually spends a few more minutes taking questions in the hallway before their sports information director whisks them away to do TV interviews. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany follows the coaches and does a one-hour question-and-answer session from 2-3 p.m.
Since 11 coaches appear in a fairly short time span (10:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m.) with only one 30-minute break, the first day doesn't have a ton of value. Every coach says how excited he is for the season, talks about his returning starters, takes a few questions and leaves. There are exceptions, though, and this year should produce some first-day intrigue. Here's a look:
- Purdue coach Joe Tiller is always entertaining. He talks about fishing in Wyoming or Montana or someplace. Unlike his colleagues, he rarely wears a tie. Plus, he's always candid about his team, rule changes, etc. Tiller usually shows up well before the sessions begin and he'll hang out in the back of the ballroom to hear the other coaches talk.
- Joe Paterno is 81 years old, and he doesn't waste anyone's time, including his own. Paterno always passes up the long-winded, normally flavorless opening statement and goes straight to questions from the media. He'll undoubtedly be asked about his future at Penn State for the 10,000th time. I'm interested to hear his thoughts about the quarterback competition between Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin.
- Rich Rodriguez makes his first appearance at Big Ten media days, and much of the attention will be on the new Michigan coach. He might have to rehash his recent settlement with West Virginia, but I'm more interested in his outlook for Michigan's offense. His system usually doesn't click in the first year. Will this time be different?
- With everything going on at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz's 15 minutes on the dais should be, well, interesting. The Iowa coach can't say much about the ongoing sexual assault case involving two former players, but he might defend the way he and other school officials responded to the alleged victim and her family.
- Delany will discuss the Big Ten Network's long-awaited deal with Comcast and possibly his status as a college football playoff pariah.
The second day of media meetings brings better stories and more excitement, as the players join their coaches for a two-hour session with reporters. Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman and Big Ten coordinator of officials Dave Parry also will be available. Things begin at 8 a.m. Friday. Getting to all 46 interview tables in 120 minutes is impossible, but I'll do my best to bring you a solid sampling.
The biggest crowds are usually around Joe Paterno and Jim Tressel, but Rodriguez, Ferentz and Illinois coach Ron Zook will get their share of visitors. Ohio State's star threesome of James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Todd Boeckman won't be lonely. By the way, I forgot to complain about having no Beanie Wells at media days. I get the bringing-the-seniors thing, but he's a legit Heisman Trophy contender. Other players sure to be mobbed include Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum, Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, Illinois quarterback Juice Williams and all three Penn State invitees (Josh Gaines, A.Q. Shipley and Derrick Williams).
Possible highlights of Day 2 include:
- Finding out from Jenkins what really happened at the Playboy All-America event.
- Talking to Illinois linebacker Brit Miller, one of the most charismatic personalities in the league. The kid is hilarious.
- Spending some time with Michigan defensive end Tim Jamison and cornerback Morgan Trent. Everyone's focused on the offense, but the Wolverines' defense could be pretty good.
- Getting Dave Parry's thoughts on rule changes and becoming the first National Coordinator of Collegiate Football Officiating.
So there you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about Big Ten media days. Unlike my colleagues, I'm not staying at the Ritz or heading to Vegas. I'll be saving the company money and making the short trip down Lake Shore Drive from my home on the city's North Side. The blog should be buzzing the next two days, so check it out. And e-mail me any questions or comments as the event goes along.