Pac 12 football teams committed an absurd number of penalties in 2012. Five of the conference’s teams – UCLA, Cal, Washington, Oregon and USC – ranked in the bottom ten. Only one team, Arizona State, finish in the Top 65 nationally. Ivan Maisel mentioned how Pac 12 coaches don’t see this as their fault. Looking at the numbers, the coaches may have a point.
The penalty numbers are abnormally high. Other conferences saw far greater ranges. The SEC had Alabama finish (6) and Florida finish (119) in number of penalties with an even distribution in between. The Big 12 had two teams finish in the top five and three teams finish below (88). The Big Ten had three teams in the top 25 and three teams in the bottom 50.
These high penalty numbers seem to be a pattern. Numbers in 2011 were similar. Six Pac 12 teams finish in the bottom 17 in penalties committed. No team finished in the Top 50. 2010 saw four teams finish in the bottom 22 and only one team, Stanford, finish in the Top 67.
Perhaps Pac 12 coaches have become libertines, affected by the fine weather and the laid back lifestyle. But we would suspect this has far more to do with Pac 12 referees being extra vigilant. Glasses ref definitely seems like he could have been a hall monitor.
Slightly off topic, but worth noting: the number of penalties are often cited but do not correlate with success as much as one would expect. Both Kansas and Kansas State finished tied for 3rd in fewest penalties committed. Oregon’s best finish under Chip Kelly was (94) in 2009. Seven of the bottom 10 in 2012 went to bowl games. An eighth was a nine-win Louisiana Tech team. Two of those seven, Oregon and Florida, finished in the SRS top five.
Also interesting: Army and Navy have each finished in the top six for fewest penalties in five of the past six seasons. Hyper-disciplined defenses? Or do referees subconsciously assume this and give them the benefit of the doubt?
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