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

J LO

October 27th, 2009
7:31 am

First!!!!!!! Good article TB

TechDan

October 27th, 2009
7:32 am

TechDan

October 27th, 2009
7:32 am

Crap. I have to stop reading the articles.

Gen Neyland

October 27th, 2009
7:33 am

We need John McEnroe to replace Redding. He’d understand…

techman98

October 27th, 2009
7:36 am

Amen… I have been saying this for years. Each official needs to be randomly assigned to games so that there is no more of this argument. Of course, on the flip side, then the argument becomes a national conspiracy theory revolving around USCw, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, right?

D

October 27th, 2009
7:41 am

Tenn played there ass off and I’ll give them that but my GOD stop the crying!!!!! I think Ala, Ga, and Fla. have just solved there water problems and its coming from Hillbilly U

chazzo

October 27th, 2009
7:45 am

Florida always has gotten the calls. Why is everyone so surprised? LOL

Note: this post is full of irony and sarcasm. If you can’t figure that out, please don’t hurt yourself trying to get it or try to hurt me thinking you got it.

tony's a homer

October 27th, 2009
7:47 am

Still complaining Tony.get over it already. 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. in the end you are still a complaining homer.

bamafan

October 27th, 2009
7:48 am

The clock had expired when Cody took off his helmet. The ball rolled around in the flat for a couple of seconds before Bama covered it. Gary Danielson’s comment was not only wrong but unnecessary. CBS coverage of the SEC has taken a nosedive – we need Todd Blackledge back. He was much better. As for Lane Kiffin, he actually found and was holding the high ground over Urban Meyer, but now he is whining again. However, he might not have done so if Gary Danielson hadn’t commented on Cody removing his helmet. Same thing for Steve Spurrier and the SCAR athletic director….artifical noise? Give me a break!

Where have you gone Jim Bob Cooter ?

October 27th, 2009
7:51 am

Privately “working it out” with the league office accomplished nothing , so the coaches have done the only thing that they could do , and that is go public with their criticism. Tony , we now have instant replay /review . That was supposed to make the officiating more precise and determine the outcome on the field. The stupid mistakes that we have seen this season (all over the league) should be a signal that something is dead wrong here.

We may have the bset teams ,coaches players and fans ,but we have division II officials.

Mikey

October 27th, 2009
7:55 am

Good points Tony- I can’t wait to see what crew shows up in JAX Saturday and more importantly how they call the game. Should be very interesting to say the least.

stay thirsty my friends….

Burdell

October 27th, 2009
8:01 am

Hey Pitbull–

Can you post that letter that you sent Redding again? I need a good laugh this AM.

GO JACKETS!!!

Wrong Bamafan...

October 27th, 2009
8:02 am

…and Redding’s interpretation of the events in the Bama game is off center, too.

The ball was still live after Cody’ block; that fact cannot be disputed. Even though the clock had wound down to zero the play that was effected by the removal of the helmet was the original play that was associated with the block. Hence, the penalty should have been enforced on the PREVIOUS PLAY, not the next play, since the unsportsmanlike penalty was DURING the continuation of the kick block play, and not after the play was over. If there had been holding by TN and the kick had been good, the play would have had to be run again, so what is the difference? The key to the sequence is that it was DURING the play, while the ball was uncovered, that the infraction occurred. Advantage – TN.

Redding just made the whole league look even more like dumba$$es when even the guy in charge of the officials does not know the rule.

bamafan

October 27th, 2009
8:05 am

Cody’s helmet came off after Bama covered the ball. The game was over.
I agree with you had the helmet come off while ball was live, your interpretation is correct. However, your interpretation requires a factual determination that the ball was live……and it was not.

George P Burdell

October 27th, 2009
8:06 am

Interesting idea, Tony, but it will never happen. Most coaches want at least some officials that they know on the field. The coaches want to talk to the referees, and the coaches understand that they will get a better hearing from a referee that they know. It is a common complaint in bowl games where referees from a neutral conference are assigned; the coaches hate it because they don’t have a referee that they are certain will listen to their complaint.

JP owns DJ

October 27th, 2009
8:06 am

Where is Nachos?

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue

October 27th, 2009
8:07 am

Georgia fans remember Urban calling those timeouts last year and his wife screaming after the game, “What comes around, goes around!” I hope you’re right, Mrs. Meyer.

Fleischman in Chattanooga

October 27th, 2009
8:08 am

Wrong Bamafan, your OBVIOUSLY a Vol. Take the fact that you played over your head, and came within a field goal. It was a great game. You better get over it now or Steve Spurrier is going to walk into Rocky Flop and beat yall again.

Fleischman in Chattanooga

October 27th, 2009
8:09 am

Where is Fleischman in Chi Town’s Bedroom?

Slim Pickens

October 27th, 2009
8:09 am

Josh Nesbitt for Heisman

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue

October 27th, 2009
8:09 am

When is someone gonna call an excessive celebration penalty on TEBOW? Oh, wait. I think we know why that’s never happened.

P

October 27th, 2009
8:10 am

Mullen should have complained that the ref on the field got it wrong. It should have been called a touchback and then let the video show it was a touchdown. That’s the real problem. The official on the field blew it.

P

October 27th, 2009
8:11 am

Ref’s should be NCAA, not tied to a conference.

Sautee Dawg

October 27th, 2009
8:11 am

Tony,

You see the play where Southern Cal’s d-back ripped the helmet off of the reciever in the endzone?
No call on the play. Ref’s did give SC a holding call on the following kick-off return to try and make up for it.
SEC is not the only conference with problems.
Worse than that, when you retire to the NFL officiating you get to make stupid calls like the tripping call on Minnesota when they were about to score the go ahead touchdown against Pittsburg on Sunday.
Play review has ruined College football and NFL football.

P

October 27th, 2009
8:13 am

Kiffin kills Georgia, hangs with Florida, and almost beats Alabama in his first season. Looks to me like Tennessee will be a force in the next few years.

Reality Check

October 27th, 2009
8:14 am

I’m gonna be on vacation so I want to go ahead and make my post for:

November 1st – You gayturds got lucky, Jacksonville is not a nuetral site, the refs cheated, you had an off week. WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.

November 29th – Tech sucks, the joke by the coke, the refs cheated, your players are illegally to smart and have futures, chop block, he pulled his scholarship (oh that was CMR, never mind). WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR.

December 18th – The motor city bowl sucks the refs cheat the wind blew….

SimpleDawg

October 27th, 2009
8:14 am

THE 85 SCHOLARSHIP RULE:

The 85 scholarship limit rule has spread the talent out so much that there can be a fine line between winning and losing in almost every game. Every play could be the one to make or break a team’s chances of winning…now, every official’s call can be a major determinate in the outcome, depending on when the call occurs.

There’s always been bad calls by officials….only now, with replays, they become more evident, quicker.

Oh, and the stakes are much higher due to the huge amounts of money involved in TV contracts, being on TV more often if you’re winning, more exposure, which draws more top rated players, etc., etc., etc.

The bar has been raised for everyone…..even the officials.

Grantland Rice

October 27th, 2009
8:15 am

Hard to believe people are still complaining about Cody’s blocked FG.

Learn the rules.

Question No. 2

October 27th, 2009
8:16 am

Georgia fan here with no dog in this fight but…maybe no conclusive evidence was there to reverse the call in Starkville (now you’re blaming the sideline camera guy for not being in position, by the way) but shouldn’t the high-stepping act been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Just because the SEC says the refs didn’t get one call wrong doesn’t mean they didn’t miss another one on the SAME PLAY?

Brent Cunnigham

October 27th, 2009
8:17 am

Who is going to get UGAs biggest win this year? Miami, Alabama, maybe Clemson in the acc championship game or maybe Texas in the national championship game. It could be any team, except of course the puppies.
7 – 5, if you can beat Auburn and Kentucky. LOL

Not from Roswell Ed

October 27th, 2009
8:20 am

There are a lot of comments regarding the celebration of Tebow and others. After the penalty on Green (which I believe was wrong even though I am not a GA fan), I imagine the officials got a pep talk and got told to let a little more go. If this did not happen, then most likely these guys decided not to call it on their own simply because of all the attention the call received. Just a thought.

hh

October 27th, 2009
8:21 am

LETS DO IT!!! Earlier this year, some Tech fans were hoping to get SEC officials in the Miss St game. That’s how bad ACC officiating has gotten.

Jay

October 27th, 2009
8:22 am

Yeah tony how silly to think it’s a comspriacy. Yet here you are with your 4th article on the subject. How many bad calls do u have to see before you start questioning it? They weren’t this atrocious before. If it walks like a duck, quacks..you know the rest. In this economy with money as tight as ever, what would bring in more viewers Tony?
1 fla vs 2 bama
or 10-2 or 11-1 fla ranked 12th versus 11-1 bama ranked 5th. Yeah tough one. UF should already have a loss. Disgusting

elcid8158

October 27th, 2009
8:23 am

“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.”

Rogers needs to get his eyes checked…from every photo to vidio you could tell the ball was loose.

Nodoginthefight

October 27th, 2009
8:23 am

Need to read and understand the rules book. The helmet came off, which is an UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT penalty, which is TREATED as a DEADBALL foul. Thus, had a penalty been called, it would have been enforced AFTER bama received the ball. It’s amazing to read all the complaining and nobody really understands the actual rule.

bad brad

October 27th, 2009
8:23 am

Just after watching the FL d-back high step and fumble at the goal line, I told my son that if they didn’t overrule the call, then on Monday the SEC would back the officials. Can you imagine the flack if Redding would admit that officials screwed up yet again.

I think officials have always screwed up calls; it’s just that tv technology and multiple camera angles are exposing all that now. But even that does not allow for the poor judgement exhibited in AJ Green call and the one against Arkansas vs FL.

What is needed is a FBS officials group, operated by NCAA. Then we wouldn’t have to see so much of Penn Wagers grinning like a mule eating briars every time he announced a controversial penalty (usually against the Dawgs).

LL

October 27th, 2009
8:24 am

How about the officiating coming from the private sector. And quit hiring these old boats. Get some young guys who can run and have good vision. Not some overweight 60 year old who can barely run

zdawg8

October 27th, 2009
8:29 am

Anyone else find it interesting that the head of officiating for the SEC is a GT grad and the ref who was suspended was a GT grad. Also, Al Ford (replay official) is a GT grad. Either they are too stupid, or there is something fishy going on. Why do they let these GT grads anywhere near a UGA game?

Hal

October 27th, 2009
8:31 am

Actually, WRONG BAMA FAN: a Removing the Helmet and/or Excessive Celebration penalty are both dead ball fouls. Where or whats on the clock is irrelevant. It kinda stinks but thats the rule. If either had been called including Unsportsman, they would have all been enforced on teh next play which was Bama’s ball where it was recovered.

NOW… ATTENTION ROGERS REDDING: I know you went to Tech but to say that the evidence wasn’t there to overturn the call of the Gator showboating a tad early makes you and all the review officials in-competent and you wander why fans and now coaches are starting to scream.

THE EVIDENCE: Go back and look, the man had NEITHER foot in the end zone (which doesn’t matter I know) AND the ball was behind his right leg when knocked out of his hand. Now he could have reached the ball forward and it would be a mute point… but he didn’t. He drug it behind himself showing off and it is physically impossible, that with neither foot in the endzone and the ball basically BEHIND HIS BACK that he crossed the plain and ANY review official knows that… why wasn’t the call overturned?

Tony doesn’t want to talk about the fix, neither do I but damn it’s getting hard to ignore. That’s twice in as many week the refs have saved UF’s butts.

Bill Clinton

October 27th, 2009
8:32 am

I did not have sex with that girl

Aaron

October 27th, 2009
8:34 am

TB, You Sir Are Wrong!!!
It is not without reproach that the SEC is influencing officials about the expectation of play during a game, i.e. to keep an eye on X player for the opposing team because they are known to do Y activity which is illegal. Further if David Stern can and did call his officials prior to the Lakers/Sacramento game and influence that outcome, it is certainly plausible that those similar desires of high TV ratings and a good storyline about Tebow’s last year wouldn’t be a desireable outcome for Mike Slive. Granted, the theorist have no proof of a conspiracy, but you sir have no dis-proof, and hence are wrong to say as such.

Brent Cunnigham

October 27th, 2009
8:35 am

Yes zdawg8, of course they are Tech grads, so were Stalin and Hitler and Ted Bundy was a liberal as was Freddy Kruger. Tech’s the reason UGA spends millions on coaches and facilities and is hoping to be in Nashville for a bowl game. It’s Techs fault.

Hal

October 27th, 2009
8:37 am

Brent Cunningham… good point, like the humor but don’t fool yourself… if a UGA grad cost yall a game you would loose your mind

James Carvel

October 27th, 2009
8:37 am

And I thought Rush Limbaugh was the worst excuse maker. But ya’ll got him beat. It felt like it was not a fumble and they speeded up the video, but not the audio and somehow kept them in sync…….

Jack K

October 27th, 2009
8:39 am

Here’s the video evidence you stupid officials. Even on crappy youtube you can see it was a fumble. The fix is so obviously IN.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSqmEOnud5c

ratherBgambling

October 27th, 2009
8:39 am

Kiffin and ‘taking the high ground’ never belong in the same sentence.

The Ghost of Bobby (GT) Gaston

October 27th, 2009
8:40 am

The issue that I feel causes the most angst with SEC fans is that too often the officials are taking the game out of the players hands and determining or influencing the outcome of the game through petty and/or inconsistent calls.
One thing that has not been mentioned on the Doe incident is why wasn’t he flagged for “Taunting” because his actions clearly were out of line and it nearly (should have) cost his team.
The call during the ARK-FL game was so lame and even in interviews Cruse’s defense is deplorable. He thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye??? Really!!!
Or the UGA-LSU game. How in heavens name can you even come close to making the call against the Green kid. If that is excessive celebration then where in the world is that call everytime Tebow jumps up and starts Gatoe CHomping or throwing his arms up in the air. BE CONSISTENT AND IT WON”T APPEAR AS IF YOU HAVE AN AGENDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Put the game bacl into the players hands and get rid of some of the assinine rules that place too much judgement with the officials. PLEASE!!!!
BTW- If you don’t beleive that these Refs have egos then you haven’t watched Penn Wagers or Ed Hockaly(sp?) go through their dissertations on calls. Give me a dadgum break. I turn on the TV to watch the game…not you do a standup routine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whine and Cheese

October 27th, 2009
8:41 am

I guarantee you if there were a movement to go with nationwide officials instead of conference officials the SEC would be screaming the loudest in opposition.

Saint Simons

October 27th, 2009
8:43 am

45 – 42 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahaha

G Force

October 27th, 2009
8:44 am

TB, I like the idea of officials being employed/assigned on a national basis instead of by conference. It’ll get rid of some (but of course not all) conspiracy theories.

It would also help solve some of the problems with interconference games. For example, let’s say an ACC team and SEC team play and they use Big 12 officials so that neither team has an “advantage.” But what if a Big 12 team trying to break into the top 2 has a vested interest in the outcome.