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.

 

 Please follow me on Twitter

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

379 comments Add your comment

Cracker

October 27th, 2009
3:15 pm

Hey tide rising, enjoy the replay… I do not want to hear about you touching yourself unless the camera pans to the cheerleaders, a Bear montage, and Nick Saban….

Tide Rising

October 27th, 2009
3:22 pm

Cracker,

I can handle you needling me with juvenile insults. That doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that I couldn’t comprehend the fact that you were that stupid that the rule had to be explained to you over and over and you still didn’t get it. I’m glad we finally reached you though. But hey, in the name of wittiness ya gotta come up with something better than the bit about camera pans to the cheerleaders,etc. Amuse me, make me laugh. You are after all my personal freaking clown!

RAM

October 27th, 2009
3:23 pm

This has probably been addressed before, but I see a need for a uniformity of camera angles and locations regarding endzone plays. Unfortunately, the angle of the cameras (on both sides of the play) in the disputed Florida-MSU int for a td appear to be just off of the goal line so it may not be as clear as some think that the ball was completely behind the goalline. I always thought cameras were posted right on the goal line (as it seems this way on many plays), but other times they are clearly off to one side. Also, I’ve long held that the Fla coaches teach to their players to in essence “cheat within the rules” so as to gain whatever advantage they can without garnering a penalty. For instance, Louis Murphy (and this year Cooper) are masters at pulling the jerseys of defensive backs (heck Murphy literally slung his way by Asher Allen for a TD catch last year) to gain separation. Hopefully, the refs are done paying back the DAWGS for the endzone celebration of 2 years ago.

Cracker

October 27th, 2009
3:31 pm

Ya Tide Rising….you totally ’splained the rules to me… I jumped on this thread fired up about how bad a team I dislike with a coach I dislike got screwed by the refs… I was very emotional…but now I understand the rules….lol

Cracker

October 27th, 2009
3:32 pm

I got called stupid by a guy who says stupider… good stuff…

GMan

October 27th, 2009
3:35 pm

RAM, you had me agreeing with you in the first part but then lost me in the second. Please no more conspiracy stuff, the refs aren’t mad at the Dawgs and they don’t favor any one team. Also, there is no such thing as ‘cheat within the rules’ if it is WITHIN the rules.

Hal

October 27th, 2009
3:37 pm

GMan, I mentioned I played at UGA in response to a question to another blogger who asked if anyone here had played and could attest to momentum swings on penalties… not looking for a red badge of courage.

All officials in every conference miss calls, make bad calls etc. The problem and the main reason for the dis-content by all parties involved is the timing and placement of them. Notice guys how no one is really arguing the pass interference against Arky on the same drive as the PF penalty because we all know it is subjective and apt to happen on every play.

But, having known several good officials throughout my life, a common thread fills the better ones… “If I’m going to call (celebration, PI, PF, etc) I better know I have it right.”

That’s what the guy who called celebration against UGA missed, as did the one who called the PF against Arky. When a call happens in the second quarter you re-group and come again. When it happens at the :42 mark and you just lost the lead on said call, you guys who say get over it obviously are armchair qb’s.

And btw GMan and a few others…. of course the ones bytching are the losing teams and their fans… you never gripe when your boss accidentally slipped an extra $100 in your check do you? Only when he takes it out! What do UF & Bama have to gripe about?

Tide Rising

October 27th, 2009
3:38 pm

Cracker,

Get back to me when you learn how to spell asparagus. Also, come on. I’m waiting for something funny from you. Insult me with some wit, some real humor. I have low expectations of you but I know you can do it.

Crump

October 27th, 2009
3:40 pm

Understand the logic, but it won’t help. Fans ain’t the most logical bunch, especially after a close loss, and more especially after a close loss after a close play. Guarantee the conspiracy theories may vary in content, but they’ll still be there.

GT

October 27th, 2009
3:40 pm

When you named the coaches on the probation list there was no surprises….. The ACC doesn’t have the coaches jumping ship in the same conference as much as the SEC. We have one coach at NC State which hasn’t done the Wolf Pack that much good, Boston College beat them last weekend with their second wife…I mean coach. That whole picture over there reminds me of one of those daisy chain bank deals in Texas. Football was created as a recreational thing like fraternities and school plays, and has evolved into a monster where the school itself has absolutely no control. The million dollar salaries are not paid by the school, the kids that play in most colleges could never qualify to be there on their own, it is like a film crew coming into your house and taking over your life with little regard to you as the owner. Some guy above talks about coaches caring. How can you care when you can’t even remember what school you’re coaching. You think Chan Gailey cared? He may have been the poster boy of burned out journeyman collecting big paychecks and wearing yellow ties.

Cracker

October 27th, 2009
3:41 pm

Ouch, does that mean I am “stupider” now?

Anonymous

October 27th, 2009
3:43 pm

“Stupider is as stupider does.”

My name's Forrest, . . .

October 27th, 2009
3:46 pm

Who’s this Anon Y. Mous man, Bubba?

im4bama

October 27th, 2009
3:46 pm

Tide Rising and Cracker,
Thanks for the entertainment today, it’s been fun. Read ya tommorrow, I’m out.

Bubba

October 27th, 2009
3:47 pm

He ain’t no shrimper, Forrest.

GMan

October 27th, 2009
3:51 pm

Hal, I’m an armchair QB now and so are you. So what? My point is that the PF on Arkansas placed the ball on the 10-yd line and gave UF a 1&10. They scored on that first down play to tie the score. It didn’t cost Arkansas the game, there was 7 MINUTES and 27 SECONDS remaining. Go watch the film before making a dumb remark.

Tide Rising

October 27th, 2009
3:51 pm

Cracker. Stupider than stupid! yep.Gotta go. Its been fun though. We kept everyone entertained. See ya around and if you need further clarification on the rules just blog me and I’ll help ya. RTR

DP

October 27th, 2009
3:52 pm

Hey Brew, help me out with that bit about the officials showing Alabama where the ball was after the blocked kick, because you can look at it on YouTube and see an official standing and looking at the ball without making any kind of move or gesture. Then 2 Alabama guys saw the ball and covered it.

If you’re going to lie, at least make it something that anybody can’t look at on YouTube.

Nativebird

October 27th, 2009
3:52 pm

the question of the Helmet coming off of Cody during or after the live ball IS THE REASON that we need INSTANT REVIEW REPLY OF ALL OFFICIALS CALLS, PERIOD. EVEN JUDGEMENT CALLS AND PENALTIES. in for a dime, in for a dozen. remember tony, GET THE CALL RIGHT? WELL?

Forrest

October 27th, 2009
3:58 pm

Nativebird,

That would make for a 12 hour game. The Cody play as has been talked about ad nausem if a penalty had been called it would be first down at the bama 12 for bama since it was a dead ball foul. Read some posts on the page before on this.

Cracker

October 27th, 2009
3:59 pm

Bama fans are the Amberjack of the internet world… just dangle something shiny in front of them and they will fight you hard for a long time… let em go… go to the same spot… drop another something shiny and they jump right back on the line… Amberjack are not the most glorious fish out there, but when nothing else is biting, you can always depend on them… plus, we sell them to yankees and tell them they are grouper… but that story is for another day…

Go AU

October 27th, 2009
4:00 pm

Hey gatorKIM….yeah, AUBURN fans did call the gators losers…..bet you are glad we are not on your schedule this year…..we won the last two times we played. there is a reason you wanted us off the schedule….hahahahahhahaha ROFLMAO

mightyKC

October 27th, 2009
4:03 pm

“Also, I’ve long held that the Fla coaches teach to their players to in essence “cheat within the rules” so as to gain whatever advantage they can without garnering a penalty. For instance, Louis Murphy (and this year Cooper) are masters at pulling the jerseys of defensive backs (heck Murphy literally slung his way by Asher Allen for a TD catch last year) to gain separation. Hopefully, the refs are done paying back the DAWGS for the endzone celebration of 2 years ago.”

wah, wah, wah. every UGA player should have been thrown out of that game if the refs actually called the rule as it should have been, #1.

and #2, hilarious bringing up the TWO WHOLE TIMES guys jerseys have been grabbed. i have a video that i’ve been compiling ever since Richt started at UGA where he teaches his OL to ‘hold’ but do so in such a manner that is within the rules so that they will not be caught. it has happened on 185 plays so far. now tell me, how stupid is that sentence? pretty dumb, but the difference is you’re being serious!

well if UGa wins this weekend at least we can stop hearing about all the whining! and love their players saying “oooh, we got disrespected!”. these are same a-holes that ran onto the field in 2007. but they don’t see any connection, do they. don’t worry, we stoppped talking in the preseason (publicly) about UGA last year and then let our game do the talking. obviously UGA is putting way too much stock in stopping Tebow and repaying last year’s azz whooping, that they forgot to worry about their other games. and way to lose to kiffy!

Jake

October 27th, 2009
4:05 pm

Seems the SEC has moved to higher “big money” with the contacts with CBS and ESPN. What about the officals are they getting more money or are they being paid at a 1998 pay scale. Should they be paid more, getting NFL type officals and the best officals in the country”, And the issue about a coach not expressing their thougths about a call once they get the facts,, is like the Masters and the Gary McCord deal. Be nice little coach and don’t say anything,, come on! Players like to see their coach stand-up for an incorrect call. I would not want to play for a guy who has no back-bone and stand up for his team.

goober

October 27th, 2009
4:05 pm

Burdell … it was a joke, dude. Only a Techster would fail to recogize that.

Imagine if we all put this much time and thought into REAL challenges in our lives … !

Got 12?

October 27th, 2009
4:05 pm

Nativebird,

Can we let the Cody thing die? Go back to the third page of this blog where I posted the rule (directly from the NCAA football rule book) concerning unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. They are dead ball fouls. That means, since Bama recovered the ball, it would have been a 15-yard penalty but still Bama’s ball. but, since the clock ran out, the game was over.

http://www.finebaum.com/images/2009/20091024ALvsTN_Cody.jpg

UT

October 27th, 2009
4:08 pm

Reptiles Rule- what an idiot- address the fact that timmy boy and his boy Urban are undefeated today because of the trash we call SEC Officials. People are calling (and showing over and over again) what they see. Why not fire the group of slime that was at the Miss St./UF game????? Better teams- right now, if not for the SEC trash on the field- you possibly have 2 losses….hmmm…..how good is that?????

GMan

October 27th, 2009
4:19 pm

Yes UT it is all a conspiracy to rob you and your team the ability to rise to the elite. It all began in the preseason when the commissioner and the refs had a meeting to decide who should represent the SEC. I think it is the same officiating crews each week in the conference. They forgot that it may hurt the strength of schedule for those teams that are complaining to lose every week when they aren’t playing UF and UA. Hmm…I guess they didn’t plan it out real well.

Michael G.

October 27th, 2009
4:25 pm

I do not believe in conspiracy theories, but Tony, you are naive if you think the SEC isn’t fully aware of their $30 million dollar investment to get 2 teams (out of Alabama, LSU, Florida) into BCS bowl games. They are clearly the best teams in the conference this year, and I’ll be pulling for them in the bowl games, but the only thing fans care about is getting the call right. The technology is there, use it. Something doesn’t seem right when an explaination of a “questionable” call comes three days after the fact.

Milli vegasmu

October 27th, 2009
5:01 pm

It’s funny how so many of these calls go in Florida’s favor.
http://freehealthscare.com/i/tmullis

TCU is coming....

October 27th, 2009
5:07 pm

Enter your comments here

Butch

October 27th, 2009
5:13 pm

Beamer better quit worrying about Georgia Tech stomping the Hokies,
and get his ‘CONSTANTLY HOLDING” offensive line ready for North Carolina.

AltamahaDawg

October 27th, 2009
5:14 pm

It’s not about if a bad call literally was the single play that cost somebody a game. It’s the idea that the cource of the game was changed needlessly and unfairly. Nobody knows what “might” have happend, but we all saw what “did” happen as a result of that phantom PF call. It changed the game. “maybe” UF scores a TD there, but the difference between 7:27 left and 6:27 would have been huge the way that game ended, and thats what jumping to the 10 meant as a minimal effect, if not outright handed over the score. Given the events of the game to that point, it’s just as likely that UF has to settle for a 38 yrd FG attempt too. Uf needing to score a TD to win it (or even tie it) in the end with much less time, if any? I’d say that would be a whole nuther deal. Play calling, time, score, Ark’s options, It all changed.

TCU is coming....

October 27th, 2009
5:16 pm

As far as I am concerned Florida has two losses and Alabama has one that is how bad the referees in the South Eastern Conference have corrupted the games. I cannot wait for TCU to play one of these fakes in the BCS Championship game in January. The Horned Frogs are better than Utah was last year and the speed on our defense will smother Tebow or Ingram whoever makes it. How can you possibly expect for the rest of the country to respect your conference after all these bad calls every week. Get some descent, honest officials or lose your automatic BCS bids is the standard that should be set for the conference.

TCU is coming....

October 27th, 2009
5:18 pm

Dan Mullen was fined for his comments which is another topic but I agree with him. Someday a team is going to be cheated so bad on a call in the Sec that the opposing coach will tell his players lets go and leave the field. Get your act together Sec your the biggest joke in sports right now and your overrated to boot.

Hal

October 27th, 2009
5:24 pm

GMan now you crossed the line from un-informed to f-ing idiot. A free set of 7 points never helps the opposing team. Florida’s offense couldn’t get out of it’s own way all evening. They needed desperately the assistance of 30 yards of help and a blind eye on cooper’s offensive PI to score. And btw, a free 7 points and a victory of 3 didn’t give the game away huh? C’mon dude… you’re obviously a gator fan and that’s cool. But you know you got away with one.

GMan

October 27th, 2009
5:28 pm

AltamahaDawg, To say that one play ‘might’ have changed the outcome of a game is unfounded. The fact is UF tied the game. The fact is Arkansas had 7 1/2 minutes to not only put the game out of reach, but even shock the world. Greg Childs dropped a sure TD, Mallett overthrew Wright in the corner of the endzone, Mallet also missed a wide open fullback in the endzone, and they missed two very makeable FG’s. This is after UF coughed the ball up 4 times. The refs didn’t cause Arkansas to lose, Arkansas did.

STW

October 27th, 2009
5:29 pm

Tony,
Once again I call for you to do a no holds barred interview with Slive and ask him how he can allow a UAT graduate to work an Auburn game, or a UT graduate to work a UAT game. The system is ripe for corruption and it has finally come to the forefront this year. Of course long time SEC fans know the favoritism afforded UAT for the past 30 years. When he uses the company line of “We have the best officials in the country” call him on it and let him know there are 12 teams in the SEC and they all deserve competent unbiased officiating every Saturday. Slive needs to publically reprimand himself. We deserve better as fans.

TCU is coming....

October 27th, 2009
5:32 pm

The Sec is not the best conference anymore its the MWC last year and this year. Our officials dont cheat either.

GMan

October 27th, 2009
5:34 pm

Hal, c’mon now you have resulted to name calling? A free seven points? That play wasn’t in the end zone. It gave UF the ball with 7 1/2 minutes remaining and on the 10-yd line. I guess the refs blocked the Arkansas players from defending from the 10-yd line and causing them to at least kick a FG at minimum. I guess the refs caused the Arkansas team to stop themselves after that call AND allow UF to march about 80 yards down the field for another FG kick to seal the victory. Right…sure thing…you are the expert here. I forgot about those FREE points opposing teams get when they get a bad call. That must have not been in my play book. As a player, I always viewed 7 minutes, with the game tied, and the ball in my hands as an opportunity to win. I guess you played the game differently, my bad.

trafficcop

October 27th, 2009
5:48 pm

Sure Tony, that’ll work…………NOT! If you have a better idea let’s hear it but don’t toss a grenade and walk off. Concrete solutions Mr. Confounded F*#k-Up.

Mike Sleeze

October 27th, 2009
5:51 pm

My conference, the SEC, is the best because we have the most money. My genius in negotiating TV contracts is only exceeded by my talent for keeping the higher ranked teams in the “win” column. We have the best facilities, talent, uniforms, colorful characters, and recruits; however, it really is all about the money.

Go State!

October 27th, 2009
5:54 pm

The call in the MSU v Florida game WAS conclusive. It was a fumble – at the one yard line! I’m soooo done with the SEC covering their arses when its the “little guys” in the league. I don’t wear a tin hat or believe conspiracy is running rampant. However, I’ve been a fan long enough to know there are the haves and have nots in the SEC. If that call had gone against a Bama or Florida, Slive would have flown down Monday morning to the respective campus to personally apologize and bring a peace offering. B.S.!

Lord of The Lizards

October 27th, 2009
6:06 pm

UT…you are assuming that the calls in both the Ark and Miss St game would have changed the outcome of either of those games. You have just verified the old saying about assuming…

Jason

October 27th, 2009
6:27 pm

Ummm… Sorry Tony, but moving the ref control from conferences to NCAA level would do nothing to dispel conspiracy theories. It would just shift the accusations from the conferences favoring teams to the NCAA favoring teams. I can see people now whining that the NCAA wants USC and Notre Dame to play in the Championship game because “it would drive up TV ratings”.

Corn Infused Cherries in a Jar

October 27th, 2009
6:34 pm

How would having national, rather than conference officials solve the problem? There’d still be questionable calls and there’d still be conspiracy theories. If it was LSU and Tennessee in first and second place, then they’d be the one’s being accused of cheating. Same if it was Ohio State and USC.

As for the Florida call, I haven’t yet seen an image from an appropriate angle to provide definitive evidence. I’ve seen how perspective tricks with cameras can make a FG look good when it’s bad,,, and vice-versa. You can complain about the cameras, and that can be fixed with a rule change. But you can’t PROVE from the video that the call on the field was wrong.

As for the Alabama call, it’s cheesy whining to begin with. If it was, indeed, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the clock still had time on it, then it would have been marked off on Alabama’s next possession. But the game was over. When it’s over, it’s over.

Sautee Dawg

October 27th, 2009
6:43 pm

Enter your comments here

kcvol

October 27th, 2009
6:43 pm

Redding told Jimmy Hyams of Knoxville’s Sportsanimal radio today that a player removing his helmet is not an automatic penalty, that the referee must determined if taunting is involved. He also said, AND GET THIS GEORGIA FANS, that the SEC does not want to penalize a athlete’s ” youthful exuberance”.

The Ole Ball Coach

October 27th, 2009
6:54 pm

Yea everybody crying until the bad call is on your team or cost your team a game.

JB

October 27th, 2009
7:07 pm

Tony, you missed the common thread through all the controversy….I know you don’t believe in conspiracies, but these complaints all come in games where either Bama or UF is playing. Yeah, the SEC knows that if those 2 make it all the way to Atlanta without a loss, the SEC is guaranteed a spot in the title game. Doesn’t take Ellery Queen to figure this one out.