SEC officiating sinks to a new low

(Southeastern Conference)

(Southeastern Conference)

To stand out as a really bad officiating crew in the SEC is a challenge.

But the team of officials headed up by Georgia Tech grad Marc Curles deserves some sort of special golden flag for phantom calls that affect the outcome of a major game.

You’ll remember Curles and Co. for the bogus celebration call on Georgia’s A.J. Green in the LSU game, a call that the head of SEC officiating, Rogers Redding (another grad of the Institute), subsequently had to disavow.

Now Redding has had to issue another statement on a call by Curles’ crew during a fourth quarter drive in Saturday’s Florida-Arkansas game when the Gators were trying to tie it up. Razorbacks defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for legally using his shoulder to fend off a Florida player who was coming at him. It wasn’t even close to an infraction, as CBS’ Gary Danielson pointed out, but the 15-yard penalty set up the Gators to score on the next play.

As was the case with the Georgia call, the conference said it found “no evidence on the video to support the personal foul penalty” against the Hogs.

Cold comfort to Arkansas, just as was the SEC’s mea culpa for Georgia after the LSU game.

Arkansas also had complained about a questionable pass interference call on that same drive and a noncall on a late hit by the Gators elsewhere in the game, but the SEC said those were “judgment” calls. You can check out video clips of some of the Curles crew’s work in that game here.

It’s gotten to the point where you have to wonder what it takes in the SEC for an officiating crew to get suspended. Maybe the magic number is three. With the Dogs’ luck, Curles and his crew will get a chance to go for the trifecta when Georgia and Florida meet in Jacksonville. Or perhaps we’ll get the Penn Wagers crew, which has proved its deficient knowledge of the rule book in the past. Talk about Hobson’s choice.

On top of these blown calls, there’s the inconsistent manner in which unsportsmanlike conduct flags are being thrown in the SEC, as I noted in Sunday’s blog.

Certain teams, such as Georgia, routinely draw those flags while others, including league leaders Florida and Alabama, don’t. It’s getting to be something of a joke what Tim Tebow can get away with. Likewise, the self-aggrandizing behavior of Alabama defenders in Saturday’s game against South Carolina in apparent violation of the rules against taunting or calling attention to one’s self. One Bama player even took his helmet off on the field after a big play, supposedly a sure infraction, but no flag was thrown.

Now, personally, I have no problem with kids celebrating, gesturing or calling attention to themselves. Emotion is a big part of college football. Such displays are against the rule, but it’s a dumb rule. Heck, I don’t even have a problem with taunting, as unpleasant as it can be sometimes. I wish the rule would go away.

But as long as it’s in place, they either need to call it on everyone or not call it at all. Just apply it consistently across the board. And that very plainly is not happening right now.

There were gestures in both the Florida-Arkansas and Alabama-South Carolina games that were much more blatant than what Orson Charles did in the LSU game, but no flags.

And in Saturday’s Georgia-Vandy game, Rantavious Wooten was flagged for spiking the ball after a big catch, but a Commodore celebrating a sack by throwing a towel in the air drew no flag.

I don’t really think that there’s a conspiracy among the SEC refs to “get” Georgia. I’m not so sure, however, that there isn’t some sort of unspoken agenda to “protect” certain high-flying teams. And even if it’s just a case of officials perceiving certain teams as undisciplined and being more prone to throw flags on them than on other teams seen as model citizens, that plainly isn’t fair.

At the very least, Redding and his officials should be aware that there’s the perception that Florida and Alabama are treated differently because it’s in the SEC’s financial interests that they succeed.

As CBS Sports exec Mike Aresco told the Birmingham News last week, “Tim Tebow has just been ratings gold … You cannot overstate the value of Florida and Alabama. … If you needed two teams to carry you, those are the two.”

Maybe that kind of thinking only goes on at CBS headquarters and not at the network’s business partner, the SEC. If so, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Redding need to act now to counter the perception that the fix is in. When you start to hear comparisons between the SEC and professional wrestling, decisive action is needed to restore fans’ faith in the conference.

Suspending Curles and his crew would be a good first step. But more than that, Slive needs to make it abundantly clear to all officiating crews that the rules must be applied evenly and equally, no matter who is playing.

170 comments Add your comment

Mark

October 20th, 2009
7:09 am

zino

October 20th, 2009
7:11 am

Good article – the SEC officials are pathetic. It seems like the best conference in the land would have the best officials. And the league is doing whatever it takes to make sure it’s Gators – Tide in Atlanta.

ImADawg

October 20th, 2009
7:17 am

You are exactly right…It’s not the rule, but how the rule is being judged. I called high school baseball and softball in Georgia for a number of years and all coaches wanted you to do was make the calls both ways. I saw a few other times over the weekend when a player scored and held up both hands to the crowd in a pointing gesture. Is this different than what AJ Green did?? Don’t think so. Don’t care what you call, just call it both ways!!!!!!!

Not Disappointed!

October 20th, 2009
7:18 am

When there’s smoke………..”It may be from a fire!” Good article.

Ramblin Wreck!

Bill

October 20th, 2009
7:18 am

Both you and Tony Barnhart are correct about this issue. Penn Wagers has been a sub-par official for years.

Fed Up With Money Drive Sports

October 20th, 2009
7:18 am

Florida is the darling of the SEC … Tebow is the poster child. Officials are afraid to make calls on Florida. Georgia and Arkansas were robbed by the same officiating crew and I’ll bet they’ll be back on the field this Saturday. When the officials make huge effects on the games and not players and coaches … it’s time for a change. Too any penalities, too man TV times out, two much standing around … where did the excitement and emotions of college football go? We’re beginning to see a slow death in all sports. At the final end, money not athletic competiton now rules all sports. This year I decided not to give any of them my money …. haven’t bought a ticket to ONE sports event. Georgia Football and college football in general is sliding down the slide into a position of unimporantace in many people’s lives.
If it’s not changed … it’s going to die.

jdawg

October 20th, 2009
7:19 am

When you watch other games…your reaction is….wow….that would have been a flag thrown on UGA….but until the fans send the mail so to speak, and call Birmingham, nothing will be done. Just like they UGA took away several stations in North Georgia who have supported UGA, just because this new company ISP wants it that way. I see far fewer donations going to Butts-Mehre next Feb. Don’t you just love this the Georgia Radio Network…..by ISP…who is ISP…yeah I know, they get us money….

ldawg121

October 20th, 2009
7:21 am

I’m a die hard UGA fan, and fan of sec football in general. But i swear to God if i see one more blatantly biased call for or against ANY team i’m going to stop watching college football. Sickening !

georgiadawg1970

October 20th, 2009
7:22 am

Very well said. It should also be noted that the press loves Florida. They have always discriminated against Southern teams and Fl is no longer a Southern state except for the panhandle. Mostly yankees and foreighners. That is why they are classless jerks. Boycott Jacksonville.

Carlton Powell

October 20th, 2009
7:29 am

As I posted on TB’s blog, the review system now in effect was supposed to cover the BAD officiating that had been in existence for years in teh SEC. If Mike Slive doesn’t realize he’s got a problem now, he is brain dead. He needs to haul ALL the officials into his office and make it abundantly real how the remaining games are going to be run. Further, Bobby Petrino should have been in Slive’s office at 10am yesterday with game tape in hand for a long, serious discussion. I must throw a bouquet to CBS Sports for their juxtaposing of AJ Green’s “celbration” with Tim Tebow’s. With CBS’s large and direct financial interest in the SEC games, that took a bit of guts. Again, Slive hopefully realizes that when the likes of CBS and ESPN are trashing the calls, he’s got a problem.

Bill Will

October 20th, 2009
7:29 am

Good article from associated press concerning the sorry SEC refs that did the Ga/LSU game and then the Florida/Arkansas game Saturday. Another gaffle, who’s suprised.

The head of the SEC officials happens to be Rogers Redding, he was handpicked by the previous SEC head official, Bobby Gaston, another Ga. Tech graduate.

Redding, a 1965 Georgia Tech graduate, was vice chancellor of academic affairs and a professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.a Ga. Tech graduate, (Yep, a physics professor) Are you beginning to see a trend here.

Evidently they love Florida and anybody but the Georgia Bulldogs. SEC football and basketball is not fun to watch because of the OFFICIALS. Same problems in high school football. Normally the home team gets the calls making it almost impossible for visiting teams to win. That’s in SEC football, SEC basketball, and GHSA high school football. But certain teams get favored treatment home and away.And certain teams get bad calls all the time. Bad refs should get called out and put on u-tube. Remember Al Ford, Penn Wages, Michael Watson (LSU fame) all big time cheaters.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

October 20th, 2009
7:35 am

Robert Daniell

October 20th, 2009
7:39 am

Georgia has traditionally played some of its best football when they have been kicked to the curb……wouldn’t a repeat of the 1985 (Worley/Henderson) thrashing, Georgia put on then #1 Florida, be glorious! When you’re #1…..there’s no where to go but down!!!!!!

Gooooo You Hairy Bulldogs…Sic’em!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RADLYDAWG

dtdawg09

October 20th, 2009
7:40 am

Well said Bill. I’ve been saying for years what a joke the SEC officials are. They are way too flag-happy. If they haven’t flown a flag in say 3 plays or so, you can bet they feel like they have to throw one on the next play. It’s getting out of hand. Let the kids play!!!

Bobby

October 20th, 2009
7:41 am

You SEC fans should count yourself lucky not to have ACC officials. At least the SEC owns up to the possibility of their having made errors. ACC just says tough luck and continues using Wal*Mart employees for officiating crews.

Jay Kersting

October 20th, 2009
7:46 am

This has been way too obvious for years. It is as if the officials are getting a bonus if more SEC teams make the BCS Championship Games.

I noticed it as especially bad during the 2004 SEC Championship Game, but anytime an underdog team takes on a Poll rated darling and gives them a game, the darling of the SEC gets the breaks.

Maybe a quarterback from the underdog needs to steal a page from Paul Crewe in the remake of “The Longest Yard” and get the attention of the officials and “politely” ask them to call a straight game.

Denver Dog

October 20th, 2009
7:47 am

It is unbelievable that we are reading and writing about officiating when the action is on the field with the players. How about the pitiful Big East refs against USC this past weekend when they played Notre Dame. USC did manage to beat them along with the Irish after many give away flags.

The worst call in this series of bad calls in the SEC mode has to be the Sanks call by Al Ford, I think. Penn Wagers with his phantom holds and unsportsmanlike calls;the 30 yard excessive celebration penalty, the failure to overturn a placement last year, and alas the phantom time out, these are all unacceptable. The SEC needs to get these clowns out, and this head of officating out. This is going on during his watch. Who was the head of officiating on the Jasper Sanks call,oh yeah a Tech grad. Hmm, at least back then it was just stupid is as stupid does, now it seems conspiratorial. I don’t care what TB says, there is one rule that is always around, and when it comes to having big ratings, and guaranteed MNC game it is this. MONEY TALKS!

Dawg Tired

October 20th, 2009
7:47 am

Bobby – I’ll take the Wal Mart folks anytime.

Burdell

October 20th, 2009
7:48 am

The fact that the head of officiating went to Tech is about as important as the fact that Bill King went to Georgia SOUTHERN.

You are no Bulldog sir. If you are calling out diplomas, then state you own.

m

October 20th, 2009
7:50 am

Enter your comments here

UGA89

October 20th, 2009
7:52 am

Georgia Tech grad Marc Curles –what does the fact that he’s a GT grad have to do with anything? The biased referee theory –geez this is so funny! You bullpups need to quit your whining about the officials in the LSU game –make a freakin’ tackle and you win the game. Fact is UGA is a horrible team when it comes to two things, tackling and discipline. And it’s fans are terrible when it come to accepting defeat –always looking for something or someone to blame.

I guarantee you that over the years blown calls by officials in UGA games have won them more games than it has cost them. UGA is just getting it’s comeuppance for all the blown calls that have gone their way over the years.

PAUL

October 20th, 2009
7:53 am

If they would simpley make this a reviewable call, they should be able to make the right call everytime.

Lee

October 20th, 2009
7:53 am

This SEC Crew apprently went to the Pro Wrestling Referee Clinic put on by the WWE. Teaches ‘em how to dictate the out come of a match or in this case a game…

Denver Dog

October 20th, 2009
7:54 am

Burdell, somewhat right, would you like for the head of the ACC officials to be from UGA? I don’t think so. Here is why you are right, it shouldn’t matter, but it seems that it is impacting certain games. Maybe there needs to be a criminal investigation into this, heck if congress can look into the BCS, surely the FBI can look into the SEC. Just joking guys, but it is a little absurd.

Denver Dog

October 20th, 2009
7:57 am

Bogus UGA 89

We shouldn’t be hard on them because the graduated from Tech, heck back then a Tech degree meant something. Unlike today when they are the 4th rated academic school in the State of Ga.

Whopper Dawg

October 20th, 2009
7:58 am

There is growing speculation that this deal is fixed. And I struggle to explain it a different way.

WTH

October 20th, 2009
8:04 am

I think I saw a flag thrown from the grassy knoll.

Nota mutt

October 20th, 2009
8:06 am

Good article! Except as you stated:

“Now, personally, I have no problem with kids celebrating, gesturing or calling attention to themselves. Emotion is a big part of college football. Such displays are against the rule, but it’s a dumb rule. Heck, I don’t even have a problem with taunting, as unpleasant as it can be sometimes. I wish the rule would go away.”

Man! I don’t believe you said that!! You want them to just run wild.

Emotion is a big part of the game, but this would be a big negative, and the rule should stand. IT SHOULD BE ENFORCE CORRECTLY, and it has not. All teams should be treated equally.

The call on Green was terrible as were the others you have mentioned.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

October 20th, 2009
8:07 am

well said Burdell

WTH

October 20th, 2009
8:08 am

Nota mutt,

Amen

Urban Meyers

October 20th, 2009
8:09 am

Marc & Penn lets do lunch again in Jacksonville

Sautee Dawg

October 20th, 2009
8:11 am

Bill

As i posted in Mr College Football’s blog.
This years Ga. vs Fla. game will have 2 or 3 controversial calls, 2 or 3 calls that either complete a scoring drive or preventing one.
Ofcourse these SEC officials want to secure a trip for them and their families to Pasadena. Let’s face it Bill, would you rather spend New years there or the Ga. Dome?

George O'Leary

October 20th, 2009
8:12 am

You don’t have to be a Tech”grad”to lie and cheat…………….but it helps

BamaBirDawg

October 20th, 2009
8:12 am

Regardless of a fix or not, mistakes have been made, game results have been altered and the SEC power landscape is now in question. This hurts the conference, the schools and the fans. If the fix is not fixed, there’s sure to be more than a haystack of problems to come.

Big Al

October 20th, 2009
8:13 am

Good article but you must have missed the 10 pentalies for over a hundred yards they gave to Bama Saturday.

Bill Clinton

October 20th, 2009
8:13 am

I did not have sex with Urban or Nick

Z.Itchy

October 20th, 2009
8:13 am

Yeah, and just think about how much you paid for tickets this year. It seems like value for money paid is sinking lower and lower. I’m sure the guys with all those TV contracts are sweating blood about now.

dap01

October 20th, 2009
8:16 am

Someone from Tech is not use to having more than 37,000 in the stands. He is probably nervous.

guy

October 20th, 2009
8:16 am

its true. its all a fix. if it werent for the officials making all those bogus ‘touchdown’ calls uga totally wouldve won the TN game…

Kim

October 20th, 2009
8:20 am

I can only pray to Tebow’s sweet baby jesus that GA’s pathetic celebration of a TD!!!!! has come back to bite them in the a** 100000-fold.
Face it, GA sucks.

Jozef

October 20th, 2009
8:22 am

I don’t watch SEC games anymore. Granted, the conference has some of the best teams in the country, but I watch football for enjoyment of the sport, and a few blatantly bad calls (which are way too common in the SEC) can turn enjoyment into frustration.

The Real SugarHillDawg

October 20th, 2009
8:28 am

I’m going to enjoy watching the Ga/Fla game just to make sure the flags are called evenly.I DARE the crew to treat the two teams differently. You’ll see a fan revolt in Jax.!!!I know Tebow ain’t gonna change the way he plays and that’s good for atleast 3 personal foul penalties!!!

dgroy

October 20th, 2009
8:38 am

Calm down all you Georgia Dawgs……you’re getting paranoid…..nobody’s out to get you. Referee’s have been making bad calls as long as football’s been played…..it just so happens to be happening to the Great Georgia Bulldogs when they’re having a bad year with bad coaching to boot. It you want to complain, do it to CMR……he should be coaching his players to exhibit some class, which they’ve never done before but, it’s never too late to start :) Go Bees

Steve

October 20th, 2009
8:39 am

Bill, the only worse than the officiating you’re complaining about is the lack of facts and disinformation in today’s offering. I know its a blog, but at least take the time to gather the facts.

Whine on pups.

jacketbacker

October 20th, 2009
8:41 am

First, keep in mind that today’s players are bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than ever. It is almost impossible to make some of these calls in “real time,” and often difficult even with slow motion replay. However, having watched both SEC and ACC games for many years, I can tell you the officials in the ACC are far worse than their SEC counterparts. I think most ACC fans would trade their crews for the SEC crews straight up any day of the week.

College footbal fan

October 20th, 2009
8:47 am

SEC officials are definitely not up to par with ref crews from the rest of the NCAA. The BIG question is whether or not SEC refs are on the take. Are SEC refs taking bribes or shaving points for illegal gambling? From the evidence this is absoultely a legitimate question.

Tom

October 20th, 2009
8:48 am

Denver you can HAVE the ACC head of officiating!…..PLEASE TAKE HIM!!

(btw, he’s a FLORIDA grad).

dawgrific

October 20th, 2009
8:49 am

Tebow is a blatant hypocrite when he is out there “hot-dogging” and “gator-chomping” in people’s faces-with no call mind you, all the while being played up and talking like he is God’s 3rd son (behind JC and obama). The inconsistency and unfiarness are putrid, and it has to stop. It has gotten to the point that EVERY time UGA makes a big play I worry that a flag is coming, especially if they show, in any way, that they are happy or excited. Any yes, the back-to-back BS calls that GIFT-WRAPPED a td for the gators made me just as sick as if it was MY Dawgs on the field. The uncalled Vandy “towel throw” was comical as well, as the Dawgs may have had an ejection if they had done that.

tampadogfan

October 20th, 2009
8:50 am

Why is it only offensive players being called, a defensive player makes a routine tackle and jumps up and down while thumping his own chest. No call. Makes no sense.

FOOTBALL

October 20th, 2009
8:50 am

SEC referees are truly inferior to ACC referees. In fact SEC refs are inferior to refs in the BIG TEN, the BIG TWELVE, the Pac Ten, the WAC, the Mountain West, the MAC, the Big East, the Gulf States and Conference USA.

SEC refs are the worst in college football.