Time for conferences to get out of the officiating business

 

 

 

On most weeks, it is fun to be Rogers Redding. The professorial Redding received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Georgia Tech and then earned his Ph.d. in Physical Chemistry from Vanderbilt. At several institutions, Redding was the chemistry professor that everyone wanted because he could take the complex and make it understandable.

 

Redding, it turns out, didn’t know what complex really was until he became the SEC supervisor of football officials in 2006. And he never really knew there could be a three-week stretch like this, where he has been called everything but, as our friend Neal Boortz would say, a child of God.

 

“It’s been interesting, to say the very least,” said Redding.

 

The SEC, much to its chagrin, has been put front and center over an increasingly loud discussion over football officiating. In three of the last four Saturdays a big call in a nationally-televised SEC game has sparked controversy that resulted in suspension of officials, reprimands of coaches, and charges from fans of conspiracy theories that would make the members of the Grassy Knoll Society blush.

 

In the past two weeks SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has had to reprimand three coaches—Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino, Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen—for complaining publicly about officiating calls. The first couple of reprimands are public with no real teeth. Kiffin was sent notice on Monday that his two strikes are up. The third time could result in penalties and one of those potential penalties is suspension.

 

The latest two calls to spark debate came last Saturday:

**–With Florida up 23-13 in the fourth quarter at Mississippi State, Gator linebacker Dustin Doe returned an interception 23 yards for an apparent touchdown. TV replays indicated that the ball may have been stripped before Doe crossed the goal line. After reviewing the play, the call stood. Mullen went nuts after seeing his own video and said that the replay official should be punished.

 

On Monday Mullen received a reprimand from Slive.

 

The rules say that “conclusive video evidence” must be present to overturn the ruling on the field. After reviewing the call on Monday, Rogers said such evidence did not exist.

 

“The default position is that the call on the field stands unless there is conclusive, indisputable evidence that it is wrong,” Redding said. “It wasn’t there.”

 

Based on some still screen pictures that are out there, Mississippi State fans would disagree.

 

The other call came at the end of the Tennessee-Alabama game. Alabama’s Terrence Cody blocked a Tennessee field goal as time expired and in the wild celebration that followed the big guy took off his helmet. Gary Danielson, who covered the game for CBS, wondered if it should have been an unsportsmanlike violation because it happened while the ball was still live. Kiffin was convinced that it was and said publicly that the refs had missed it.

 

Well, the refs didn’t miss it. The way the rule is written, even if a penalty had been called (which it shouldn’t be in that situation), it would have been marked off on the next play and not the previous play. The ball belonged to Alabama after the blocked kick.

 

“That’s a case where the rule is pretty clear,” said Redding. “Even if there had been time left on the clock, the ball would have belonged to Alabama. And if a penalty had been called, it would still be Alabama’s ball after the penalty was enforced.”

 

Fans look at these calls and the ones in the Georgia-LSU game and the Florida-Arkansas game (where the crew was eventually suspended) that the SEC had to admit were wrong and wonder: What the heck is going on here?  So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s three coaches and one officiating crew who have been punished.

 

“What we have to realize is that these things are so important to our fans and they care deeply,” Redding said. “We review everything that needs to be reviewed and when action needs to be taken, we take it. Our guys work extremely hard at this and take a lot of pride in it.”

 

Slive said he backs Redding and his officials.

 

“We have the best conference in college football because we have the best players, the best coaches and easily the best fans,” Slive said. “We take our responsibility seriously and we’re going to do what we have to do maintain the highest standards.”

 

I do have one suggestion as we move forward. One of the most popular conspiracy theories is that the officials are “looking out” for Florida and Alabama because they are 1-2 in the polls and seem destined to meet in the SEC championship game. I’m not going to spend any time writing about how silly that is, but we’re probably reaching the stage where it’s time to take that idea off the table.

 

It seems to me that it’s time for the conferences—all of them—to get out of the officiating business. Let’s have officials assigned on a national basis so that they are not identified with one conference, who is technically their employer. It certainly wouldn’t solve all the problems because officials are human beings and human beings are going to make mistakes. But it would take away one argument from those who see a massive conspiracy behind every missed call. That, in and of itself, would be a welcomed change.

 

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379 comments Add your comment

Morning News And Notes | MrSEC.com

October 27th, 2009
8:46 am

[...] News lays out the steps needed to improve officiating.Tony Barnhart of The AJC believes it’s time for the NCAA to oversee officials, not the [...]

Jack K

October 27th, 2009
8:48 am

Here’s an idea. Let the guys in the booth calling the game make the call. They get it right more than the officials. Did ya hear nessler and gary say that ball is out. Yep.

Homer

October 27th, 2009
8:50 am

I’ve told you guys. You don’t cross Barnhardt and his beloved Bulldogs. He will press this until all the refs children are burned to the ground.

GT

October 27th, 2009
8:51 am

Instant replay is like the DNA test that has sprung many a convicted criminal free in the last few years. Suddenly society has been forced to realize the facts ain’t the facts and all our emotional investment doesn’t change these facts.

Tony I am a little tire of a man head deep in the conspiracy telling me what happens on grassy knolls. Some of your pay comes for ESPN, who bring us a wonderful product SEC football. It does harm to the product to think it is tainted, which indirectly does harm to you. In the old days you worked for a third party, the newspaper. Today you work for the event planner reporting on the event. You are a honorable person but in this modern time you compromise you credibility when the weight of your opinion effects the outcome of a national championship. Years ago manipulation of the stock market was completely legal, some day I feel they will say the same about the college football’s national championship. Silly is when the results of our actions are trivial, I am not sure there is a more serious amount of money in this country controlled by such a small group of humans as college football, not a silly matter at all.

Honest Abe

October 27th, 2009
8:53 am

I take Gary Danielson’s commentary about as seriously as I need another whole in my head. Not at all.

KJ

October 27th, 2009
8:55 am

“Oh, and to your point, who’s going to officiate if not the conferences? You didn’t answer that. Just like a liberal, no counter solution to your problem. Don’t come back and say the ncaa b/c the they don’t over see the bowls and then the bowls will be without officials.”

This might be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on here, and that’s saying something.

GeezusDawg

October 27th, 2009
8:56 am

Simple, if you call an unsportsman-like on Teabag you go to h3ll. Who would want that?

Pete Manley

October 27th, 2009
8:57 am

We should have officials not connected with conferences. They are also sometimes paid by indivuidual schools to referee practices. It just presents appearances of favortism. Even though I wpuldn’t suggest Virginia came up short versus Tech ue to officials, any objective person wold say the ACC would not want a team losing 3 out of conference games to be leading one of its divisions in midseason.
An old Southern sportswriter and Coach, Harry Mehre, used to tell a story about an intersectionalgame between North and South. A fumble and ref said”Our ball.”

m

October 27th, 2009
8:57 am

Tony…you have morphed from a typical sec blowhard to a typical sec crybaby.

There are just as many bad calls in the ACC and other conferences….but the sec is such a bunch of crybabies and excuse makers that they cry and cry and cry until they suspend the refs so that the crybaby fans will feel better.

The sec is the weakest I have ever seen it in my lifetime, so they have to divert attention to the officials.

The sec is the chan gomer gailey of conferences….thank God and Greyhound that he is gone.

Fleischman in Chi Towns bed

October 27th, 2009
8:59 am

Waaaaaaaaaaaaa Tony Jabroni crying like a dang 2 year old. GET OVER IT HOMER! YOU LOSE

Da truth

October 27th, 2009
9:00 am

Memo to LAne Kiffin….. study the rules and the game film before you run your trap. I was barely able to watch the LAne Kiffin show w/o vomiting. What a cry-baby. As everybody has echoed….Cody’s helmet removal should have been flagged….but it would not have changed the outcome. Kiffin on his show said Lorenzo Washington was offsides ( and I admit-at first glance it looked offsides). But after reviewing the play, the center snapped the ball before LW’s helmet crossed the l.o.s.. So fuss at your team for the penalties…not the refs. Kiffin should be happy about the no-calls that should have run UT into double digits!

Thanks Hal and nodoginthefight...

October 27th, 2009
9:01 am

…and my apologies to bamafan…I did not know that ALL unsportsmanlike conduct actions were considered dead ball fouls – my bad – and I am a Clemson fan, so I had no dog in the fight either!

Paul Hamilton

October 27th, 2009
9:07 am

I agree with you on this whole situation. The one problem I see in your logic is that you present the idea that the officials would never rig the games or call a game in a particular teams favor. How can you be so sure about this to dismiss it completely???

With the money that surrounds college football, even if it is most likely absurd, how can you completely dismiss the idea betting/cheating scandal? I mean we have seen it in all sports, most recently the mess with the nba. I honestly believe your right about the whole situation, but there is a lot of money surrounding college football and betting on the sport in general.

Three of these four games in dispute have involved alabama or florida. I’m just saying that stranger things have happened. I don’t believe there is any conspiracy, but then again would any of us be all that shocked if one was discovered?

bamafan

October 27th, 2009
9:08 am

No sweat guys – lot of emotion rides on the officials……they don’t always get it right but they are sorta like the postal service….for every letter that is lost in the mail, the postal service delivers billions correctly every day……..

The Ghost of Bobby (GT) Gaston

October 27th, 2009
9:09 am

Yeah I got you Dawg’s just where I want you. In my retirement package I had a stipulation put in place that would assure a legacy of Tech grads that would take the quality of life, known as SEC football, to hell in a hand basket. This is a covert operation to vault the ACC to it’s prominent place as the greatest football conference in the land!!!
Redding a chemistry professor? Really is that all it takes to qualify one as an SEC Head of Officials?????? That speaks volumes of the product we now see on display and the fact that SLive had to step in and make the call to suspend the 2livecrew known as Marc Cruse(GT Grad, bet that one hurt GT Redding) and his band of incompetents.

ucancallmeray

October 27th, 2009
9:12 am

Ok, so I get it. Make excuses for the poor calls, but don’t let voices of disapproval be heard. Sounds like Kiffin is now on Slive’s “Enemies List”. It’s ashame that anti-constitutional rigths of free speech have infiltrated college football!

d dawg

October 27th, 2009
9:13 am

Can Dustin Doe be allowed to high step into the endzone, yet you can’t dive into the endzone? What about that from a Penn Wagers crew, who called unsportsmanlike on Massoquoi for doing the gator chomp and Croyle for mocking LSU by holding his hand up like a phone last year. The same thing Tebow and Knowshon didn’t get called for. IT IS TOO SUBJECTIVE.

Eric

October 27th, 2009
9:16 am

Get rid of all the officials. It can be done with cameras and computers. And let computers take care of the rankings too. Who cares what some coach or sport writer thinks. They’re all biased anyway. I would suggest that every SEC coach publicly complain about the officials. What would Slive do then? D, it’s their, not there. M=moron. Tony is no Liberal, he’s friends with neil boortz. Hmmm, maybe he’s an idiot.

Suck it Nerd

October 27th, 2009
9:17 am

Bad calls happen all the time. But it does seem that the refs have taken the game out of the players hands at times. It happens in all conferences and at all levels. I think replay has made it worse. Before replay if the play was blown you had to move on. Now you have the replay challenge and that seems to add to everyone’s ire no motter what the outcome.

KR

October 27th, 2009
9:17 am

Does anyone besides me have a problem with the concept of the SEC Commissioner “suspending” a coach? The coach should answer to his University president, his athletic director and his fan base.

I don’t see where the Conference commissioner should have much to say about it. What’s next, a University won’t be able to hire a coach without getting the “OK” from the conference commissioner?

Brad

October 27th, 2009
9:19 am

Actually Hal… let’s take a sec to review both the call from the UF/Arkansas game and the call from the UF/MSU game.

1. I agree that no call should have been made for the hit on Carl Johnson. The play was in progress and the hit was completely legal. The problem I have with UGA conspiracy theorists like yourself on this particular point was that it occurred on 1ST DOWN!!!! That means the Gators had 2nd and 3rd down to get another 1st down or score. You guys act like this was a decisive blow to Arkansas’s upset bid, but I remind you that Arkansas gave up the TD, missed what would have been the winning field goal, and gave up the game winning drive all AFTER Florida benefited from a favorable call that went their way.

2. Again, my point on the Dustin Doe fumble is not to disagree that he lost the ball before reaching the end zone because he did. The ball was clearly stripped before breaking the plain. I’m a Gator fan (go figure) and even I was certain that the call was going to be reversed… not really sure what the replay official was looking at. The point I’m making, however, was that this play occurred AFTER Florida went up 23-13. You paranoid schizophrenics claim that this bad replay call decided the game when it clearly did not. Miss. State’s offense fell flat against a dominating UF defense and would likely still not have been able to take advantage of the turnover. I’m not saying that they didn’t deserve the opportunity because I’ll admit that the correct call should have been a fumble and a subsequent touchback.

Look, every team at some point or another benefits from a favorable call from the officials, but the opposite is true too. Your team is going to get hosed from time to time. Even the Gators get bad calls against them. Case in point, in the LSU game, I was furious that on LSU’s only scoring drive, we were called for a late hit on a 3rd down play where the refs claim that Joe Haden hit Charles Scott out of bounds. They showed replays and, of course, it was a bogus call, but 15 yards and an automatic first down later, it was a moot point. The Gator D responded by stuffing LSU on the goal line and forcing them to kick a field goal… that’s how you’re supposed to deal with bad calls.

GTMike

October 27th, 2009
9:20 am

Tony:
(1) Your suggestion makes eminent sense. Let’s hope College Football goes that way;
(2) I disagree with the idea there there is no bias. Conspiracy is far too strong a word, but bias? I think that is simply human. I believe it occurs when teams from different conferences play each other. The officiating crew has likely seen one of those teams, perhaps many times, and is familiar with habits/techniques/moves etc. But the other team is brand new to them, and unfamiliar moves or techniques may get flagged more often simply because of the familiarity factor.
(3) I also think it is psychological too not make a call on UF or Bama unless the officials see it as a certain call. Again, no conspiracy, but human. We all know where they stand, and no official wants his call to ruin Florida or Alabama’s path to the national championship. There is simply bound to be more hesitation to throw that flag on a huge play that would affect the outcome and ruin their seasons.

Not saying the specific issues that have occurred this tear meet the tendencies I mention above, but do believe that over time, that is how the bias works. Your solution would help. Since we are all still human, nothing will ever solve it.

Couch Tater

October 27th, 2009
9:21 am

Of course, on the flip side, then the argument becomes a national conspiracy theory revolving around USCw, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, right? Techman98 @ 7:36

Ha, I agree Techman98. The first “blown call” to go Notre Dame’s way would result in a search to see if a ref was Protestant or Catholic.

TEBOW TOSSES SALAD

October 27th, 2009
9:22 am

F THE REFS F THE GAYTORS F THE VOLS AND F TECH

fitzgerald

October 27th, 2009
9:26 am

Stop using replays for controversial plays and go back to the way it used to be. Bad calls, good calls and in between calls will even out. And you can bet that this 60 year old would never be a football official at the college level. For once, I am too smart to want to get run over by these great athletes.

Rogers Redding

October 27th, 2009
9:29 am

Dear Miss State Fans – Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

Tide Roll

October 27th, 2009
9:34 am

Florida gets a lot more calls than bama—but that will end in the SEC title game. Bama will beat them so bad, the refs’ calls will not matter. This bama D is the best since the 92 title team. Bama beats uf—30 – 17, mark it down!

Football Official

October 27th, 2009
9:34 am

Wrong Bamafan… ,
you are wrong, A UC penalty is a dead ball foul and penalized from the succeeding spot.

o-me

October 27th, 2009
9:35 am

He who has eyes let him see…..otherwise you see only what you wish to see.

DP

October 27th, 2009
9:36 am

While Kiffin is publicly whining that the officiating beat him, on Sunday at practice he made a couple of changes to his field goal kicking unit. He replaced the two undersized guys Cody and Dareus blew up twice on the blocked field goals with a couple of guys who weigh over 300 pounds. If Kiffin had thought of that a week ago UT might have won the game and he wouldn’t need to attempt to deflect the blame elsewhere.

Unlike Petrino and Mullen, who had legitimate complaints about specific calls, Kiffin’s only specific complaint was about a play where he was ignorant of the rule and therefore dead wrong. He also went much further in his comments by challenging the integrity of the SEC and its officiating. Slive was gutless not to suspend him.

Tory

October 27th, 2009
9:38 am

Funny…the three coaches repremanded….Arkansas- bad call…FLA wins…..Missy State…bad call…FLA wins……UT…Bad call…Blama wins………you tell me Mike Slive- why would you reprmand the coaches??? someone has to say something because you are to spineless to do anything. Your boys have decided UF will go unbeaten no doubt. Cant wait to see what the gutless, sewage that you put on the field for the game in JAX this week will pull.

LAdawg

October 27th, 2009
9:39 am

There may be some circustantial evidence of a conspiracy. Is the “suspended crew” being paid for the period of the suspension? If so, it is not a suspension at all; it is paid vacation. From where I sit, if those officials are being paid, they are simply being asked to take the bullet so the SEC can save face, and create the ILLUSION that some sort of justice is being served.

cajdawg

October 27th, 2009
9:45 am

Tony,

I agree with your recommendation of NCAA officials. Great idea.

I strongly disagree with the rest of your post. If the controversial calls this year were random, then your constant belittling of conspiracy theorists would have validity. While I think it is unlikely that there is a conspiracy, to deny that there is a possibility of a conspiracy makes you look like an SEC lackey.

My Miss State

October 27th, 2009
9:46 am

Redding is not going to come out and say…my officials blew that call or any call…It is pathetic and it wasn’t the officials on the field that blew the call….it was the replay official. Mister Magoo must be employed as a replay official for the SEC.

G'villegator

October 27th, 2009
9:49 am

Stop all the complaining & excuess. Even if it was rulled a touchback Fl was still ahead by 10 & their defense was dominate. Does any body think Miss St was going to drive the length of the field twice in the 4th qt to win the game? In the Arkansas game if the bad personel foul call wasn’t made it would have been 2nd & 9 at the 20 who’s to say Fl wouldn’t have scored anyway. 10 yards did not win this game for Fl. Maybe Ga should not have given up a 40 yd return & 5 yds for being lined up wrong after the bad celabration call. Ga 45 yds refs 15yds. LSU also had a celebration penalty on their final TD but they covered the kickoff. Still wouldn’t been Ala ball even time hadn’t expired the kick was blocked.

Mike

October 27th, 2009
9:49 am

Guess Mark will be the next coach “called out by Mike Slime” right after the game Sat. No doubt they will make bad calls all day becuase all their boss will do is…..NOTHING. Down the raoad- look for Mike to call out Spurrier as well. The SEC has already determined there WILL BE an unbeaten UF from the SEC. What a joke this conference is.

dawgster

October 27th, 2009
9:50 am

Again i will just remind everyone that it is just a matter of time before the Vols are on probation due to their egotistic coach…And yes i do believe the gators get the benefit of the doubt on calls or non-calls, look at the recent evidence in some of their games..However, i’m not saying the game outcome would have been different, they are a very good team, the lack of consistancy by the SEC officials calling the gators games is pretty clear…

Don's Optometrist

October 27th, 2009
9:52 am

What a blown call. Dustin Doe fumlbed like Leon Lett and Dre Bly. It was obvious!!!!!!!! If UGA had a 1/2 way decent team they could beat the gators.

Joe

October 27th, 2009
9:52 am

Gainsville Croc of… you are a complete idiot- did you send your thank you card to Mike this week??????? Excuse??? NO loser- All we have to do is watch replays. replays week after week…..

Don's Optometrist

October 27th, 2009
9:54 am

4th Week in a ROW. 4th week in a row. Give it a break refs. Learn how to call a game. We need the best refs for the best conference……the zebras are making it a fricking joke

AuburnPaul

October 27th, 2009
9:55 am

Hey GATORS: Did you bunch of losers send your Thank You notes to Mr. Mike this week? Flowers??? How about a gift basket. Replays dont lie boys……

Gerald Tinnon

October 27th, 2009
9:56 am

It doesn’t seem logical to me to have “national referees.” I just have the gut feeling that on a national level it would be easier for the dark forces of gambling to find an opening in the officiating ranks. Also, I don’t have the confidence in the NCAA to treat all fairly and equally. Petrino’s and Mullin’s reactions were reasonably understandable, Kiffin’s was not. Kiffin’s statement that the “letter from the SEC means nothing” was demeaning and downright arrogant and a direct attack on the authority and integrity of the Commish. His child-like behavior and immature mouthing are not a credit to this conference. He is writing a lot of blank checks, promising his fans never to lose to Georgia, Alabama and Florida again. They will obviously bounce. The ironic thing is that the great majority of Tennessee fans support their coach overwhelmingly, no matter what he says, and that speaks volumes for the Rocky Top mentality.

Dembinski's Optometrist

October 27th, 2009
9:56 am

How do you get an instant replay call wrong? How???

JCDore

October 27th, 2009
9:57 am

Far more egregious errors were made in the VU-SC game, both in SC’s favor. But, alas, since it’s ‘only’ Vanderbilt I guess nobody will talk about it.

senoiadawgs

October 27th, 2009
9:57 am

It is odd that the calls are seeming to go FL and AL’s way. Not one for the conspiracy theory but it is odd.

About the coaches getting reprimanded. I for one have a great amount of respect for Petrino, Mullen and Kiffin. I begged and pleaded for CMR to do the same after the LSU and OSU game but of course nothing. Many battles in today’s world are won and lost in the media. CMR IMO should take this officiating non-sense to the media. Of course Mr. Calm and Cool will have no part in it.

UT

October 27th, 2009
9:59 am

Florida 12-0*

* Includes officials last minute help vs Arkansas and Mississippi State (probably UGA and S. Carolina as well)

I Hate trailer trash

October 27th, 2009
10:00 am

Damn SEC fans are whiney. Take a deep breath go back in the trailer and eat a pigs foot and it will all be ok.

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 27th, 2009
10:01 am

Mr. College Football, if watched something other than the SEC, you’d realize the ACC refs are far worse than the SEC. Then you may have some creditability and stop saying stupid things like you did after UGAg lost to LSPhew:

“I have been covering college football as a professional journalist for 32 years and, without being too dramatic here, there is a good chance that the excessive celebration call on Georgia’s A.J. Green last Saturday against LSU is the single worst officiating mistake I have seen in my three decades of covering the sport.”

senoiadawgs

October 27th, 2009
10:02 am

Kiffin is publicly fighting for his team, because of this the UT fanbase believes they have a coach who cares. It’s simple UGA is 3-2 4-3 UT is 1-3 3-4. Who gets more airtime on national TV? This helps tremendously in recruiting when you are not winning.

goober

October 27th, 2009
10:03 am

Tsk tsk tsk … you guys always miss the real big important issues:

1. How and why in the hell does a former Ph.D. Chemistry Professor become the Supervisor of Football Officials?

2. OK, he got a Ph.D. in “Physical” Chemistry. Is there any other kind?

3. I used to referee games on my son’s Boys Club team. Doesn’t that qualify me to be a Professor of Physical Chemistry at Vanderbilt?