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

Gainesville

October 20th, 2009
8:53 am

During the UGA vs Vandy game two Vandy defensive players sacked UGA QB Joe Cox for a big loss, then one of the Vandy players yanked Cox’s towel out of his pants and tossed it high into the air, jumped up and pumped his fist in celebration BUT NO PENALTY was called. Can any SEC official explain that one?

dawgrific

October 20th, 2009
8:53 am

There is ONE simple solution, don’t call it (personal foul, unsportamanlike conduct, pass interference) unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that an infraction has been committed-that would solve SO MUCH! Would anyone be saying that the refs changed the game if they HAD NOT called those 2 bogus penalties on Arkansas??? NO!!!!!!!!!!!

RGP

October 20th, 2009
8:54 am

Most jobs have annual reviews to measure job performance. If you get a poor review and are not performing up to standards than you are held accountable. If it continues then you are usually looking for another job. Officials need to have the same accountablility for poor judgement calls. If they dont measure up they need to be doing something else instead of taking it lightly and saying it was just another blown call.

TRUTH

October 20th, 2009
8:58 am

Talk about lying and cheating: Georgia Tech spent three years on NCAA probation for changing the grades of eleven starting football players (19 scholarship athletes overall) on their 1998-2000 football teams & others to make tor keep them eligible. That’s Georgia Tech’s version of integrity or “inTECHrity!” So you techster termites can keep your dubious opinions and stick them where the sun does not shine!

You forgot to mention this one...

October 20th, 2009
9:01 am

The bogus excessive celebration call on the Arky player who flexed his biceps after sacking Tebow… Turned a 10 yard loss into a 15 yard gain and a first down… and led to a score I believe… pathetic!!!

Tenn 45-19

October 20th, 2009
9:02 am

And this just in….Tennessee scores again. Must have been the refs’ fault.
45-19

jason

October 20th, 2009
9:02 am

Bill, the integrity of the officals is coming into play here. Also, there are to many instances where the officals are having a direct effect on the changing of a game. Now, I am not goimg to sit here and say that thhe calls on the drive is why ARK lost the game. What I amsaying is that I was watching one the best games of the SAT for 3 1/2 qt turn into a BS contest. I am tired of the refs taking the games out of the players hands.

While speaking of the 2 celebration calls in the UGA/LSU game. Is it me or was there about 2 dozen times UF could have been called for excessice celebration penalties in the ARK game alone? The officiating in the SEC has alot to be desired. One more thing the 15 yard face mask is total BS. They need the 5 and 15 yard penaltie back.

jason

October 20th, 2009
9:03 am

I also think HCs should have the right to challange a penalty in game. If you can review and change plays that are close, then why not penalties. It could fall under the same format with the one challange per half. That is what instant replay is for; to make sure these games are played as fair as they can be.

Also, the Vandy player that blocked that FG. I saw nothing wrong with the play. I don’t care what the rule book says. The player did not use another player for a height advantage. If the player jumps to make the play and comes down on another player, well that player should not have fell. It should be as in basketball on a blocked shot. I am a DAWG fan, and I guess in the grand scheme of the game that play did not matter, but it was still a horrible call against Vandy.

the real Old Gold

October 20th, 2009
9:03 am

Just thank the good Lord you don’t have ACC crews. I’ve seen horrific calls that GHSA refs would have gotten right. I’m talking ball spotting, what down it is, clock stoppage…. fundamentals.

I have a theory. I’ve thought for a long time that there is an unspoken push in the BCS conferences to protect their higher ranked teams if they can see a window to do so. It’s millions of dollars at steak for the conference. What do you guys think? THWG!

the real Old Gold

October 20th, 2009
9:04 am

Saint Simons

October 20th, 2009
9:04 am

Boo Whoo the refs are the reason UGA is #39, you bunch of cry babies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 45 – 42 !!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Lindsey

October 20th, 2009
9:11 am

Well said Mr. King, I agree 100%!!

Bill Will

October 20th, 2009
9:11 am

SEC OFFICIALS are the worst, and they are ruining the game, whether football or basketball. I hate to see home teams receive the benefit of bad calls. I want all officials to call games to the best of their ability. And when an official is obviously biased, then get rid of him. It happens in football, college and high school, and in basketball where the home team usually is give a 10 point home advantage. I quit watching basketball years ago because of this. But anyone that can not see that something is wrong with the following situation should open their eyes.

ROGERS REDDING Head of SEC OFFICIALS happens to be a GA TECH graduate.
BOBBY GASTON Prior Head of SEC OFFICIALS happened to be a GA TECH graduate.
MARC CURLES SEC OFFICIAL is a GA TECH graduate
PENN WAGES just an OFFICIAL UGA hater.
AL FORD made the call that Jasper Sanks fumbled costing UGA the game against Tech and ruining the poor boys life. I don’t see how he can live with himself.

BTW, I don’t hate Ga Tech, and wish them good luck, except for one game a year. And I know that UGA has benefited from bad officials sometimes. I don’t like it. I want games call fairly and they are not. And all officials are not bad.

Most of the people on here defending the SEC OFFICIALS are Gator fans or related to these biased officials.

Technically, that call in the UF/AR game...

October 20th, 2009
9:14 am

…SHOULD have gone against the UF guy for trying to block a guy 20 yards away from, and behind, the play (how many times have we seen this called in ordinary situations), thus resulting in UF getting the 15 yard penalty! At least the guy got his clock cleaned by the AR guy trying to protect himself.

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 20th, 2009
9:17 am

Alicia

October 20th, 2009
9:18 am

Check to see how many games Georgia has won when Marc Curles’ was officiating. Answer: none. A little bias there?

hogmtndawg

October 20th, 2009
9:24 am

“I think I saw a flag thrown from the grassy knoll.” That is seriously funny! Great post!!

PMC

October 20th, 2009
9:27 am

They can’t let this crew ruin another game really. The league has had to apologise for them twice. It doesn’t matter where they went to college, that’s a red herring. The fact of the matter is that they are embarassing the league.

Cuz

October 20th, 2009
9:30 am

What about you Tech fans lurking out there like sharks past the breaker line. Do you see bad officiating in your games. Leave the LSU-UGA game out of the mix. I saw bad calls in the Bama and the Florida Arky game last weekend. I thought Arky would win til the Gators started racking up yards. And to me, it is a travesty to both sides when the officials throw these bogus flags. The Gators have the tenacity to win without help. Tebow could have performed another miracle all by himself. Now the winning team is tainted with you had to have help. I agree, unless it is blatant, let them play for God’s sake.

Mikey

October 20th, 2009
9:31 am

Wonder which crew we will see in Jax ??

Splash Daddy

October 20th, 2009
9:31 am

What about the offensive pass interference or holding by FL against LSU the week before. With minutes to play in the first half and tied 3-3, the FL receiver grabbed the LSU corner’s jersey and pulled him backwards, leaving him wide open running into the end zone. Two official were right there and neither called it. Danielson upon reviewed stated that “we have to absolve Hawkins on this play.” FL
s is better than LSU and probably would have one anyway but come on guys.

The SEC refs are the worst.

gt

October 20th, 2009
9:35 am

i BLOGGED EARLIER ABOUT THIS . tHERE WERE ACTUALLY 3 CALLS. oN THE WINNING FG DRIVE, THE UF PLAYER CLEARLY COMMITTED OFFENSIVE INTERFERENCE
ON 3RD DOWN- ESPECIALLY IF ARK COMMITTED INTERFERENCE ON THAT TYING DRIVE.

AT BEST, THE SEC OFFICIATING AND ADMINISTRATION IS INCOMPETENT. AT WORST , IT IS OUTRIGHT CROOKED. THE RULES DO NOT APPLY EQUALLY , LIKE WHAT YOU MENTINED IN THE GA GAME.

AS BASKETBALL, ESPECIALLY WOMENS BASKETBALL, IS LESS PROMINENT, WHAT DO YOU THINK GOES ON THERE? IT IS ACTUALLY WORSE. i ONCE SAW A TN WOMENS PLAYER SHOVE A GA LADY OUT OF BOUNDS RIGHT IN FRONT OF A REF. THE CALL? TN BALL- GA OUT OF BOUNDS. THIS HAPPENS A HUGE AMOUNT, AND CONTINUALLY FAVORS CERTAIN SCHOOLS IN EACH OF THE SPORTS.

IF THE SEC CANNOT CLEAN THIS UP, EACH SCHOOL HAS A LAW SCHOOL. USE IT. PULL OUT . START A NEW CONFERENCE. POWERFUL ALUMNI- TELL THE IMAGE CONSCIOUS JERK PRESIDENTS TO SPEND A FEW MOMENT DOING WHAT IS RIGHT FOR A CHANGE.

sluggernaut

October 20th, 2009
9:35 am

make it legal to clothesline refs. that’ll keep em in line.

Maddog

October 20th, 2009
9:36 am

Enter your comments here

Maddog

October 20th, 2009
9:38 am

Homecooking is alive and well in the SEC. I have heard the food is good in the south. Now there is proof.

Cuz

October 20th, 2009
9:39 am

I heard that the two line judges are Freemasons and the umpire is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. I heard that the back judge and side judge were members of Skull and Bones at Yale and the field judge has a friend whose Dad once had a scotch in Jack Ruby’s bar. The conference room that they all meet in is called Area 51.

SOUTHGADAWG88

October 20th, 2009
9:39 am

.I don’t see why the kids can’t point to the crowd and try to pumped up the stadium either…these are 18-22 yr old amateurs ..for most of them college is the highest peak they will reach in their football careers…the youthful enthusiasm and energy these youngsters play with is what makes the college game special.The officials had to be told going into this season to specifically pay attention to Offensive players for excessive celebrations because they are letting defensive kids do it in every conference on every team in the country.I would love to hear the ref’’s explanation for flagging Sheppard though. ..he had a perfect view of the play.You would think that this crew especially would be hesitant to make borderline judgment calls down the stretch in a tight ballgame.It will be interesting to see how this week ends games will be called.

LAdawg

October 20th, 2009
9:40 am

The ONLY way UGA wins AT Florida is to blow them out. I don’t see us scoring 75 points because it is a given we are going to give up 50. NO WAY is the SEC going to allow Georgia to win a close game. If we score late in the game to take a lead we can be prepared to kick from the 20 because we will not be allowed to celebrate, in any fashion, a late lead over the SEC and CBS darlings.

jw

October 20th, 2009
9:41 am

Thank you very much for a WELL WRITTEN piece. I have felt that penalies are not being called fairly for some time. I have even had comments from other teams that have been the beneficiary of some calls that were at points that altered the game on certain drives. The problem is if you call foul you sound like a whinning fan, if the coach calls foul, it seems like the team gets “punished” harder! The “I will teach you” mentality applies. The refs have the power to change games, cost coaches their jobs, and affect recruiting. This is not something to be taken lightly. It needs to be corrected ASAP!

Tennfan

October 20th, 2009
9:42 am

I can’t believe all the low class (NO CLASS AT ALL) UT fans on here refering to the TN/UGA game when there was no contraversy as related to this blog. You are an embarassment to our university!

Gov Clinton Tyree

October 20th, 2009
9:46 am

Florida fan here (obviously, if you get the screen name reference). The AJ Green call was atrocious. The personal foul on the Hogs last weekend was atrocious.

We’ve had our share of the wrong end of the stick in years past. I just want consistency – and you certainly shouldn’t be penalized for showing some emotion after a score.

Our kicker, after making the game winner in the Arkansas game, was motioning to his teammates to keep it down, when they should have been able to dogpile him if they wanted to.

I do like the policy of the SEC to own up to its officials’ mistakes. Now they need to be consistent and only call taunting, which has no place in the game. I think it’s easy to tell the difference. AJ – not taunting. TO going to the Dallas star and worshipping his God (himself) – yeah, that’s taunting. George Teague about took his head off, too. A great moment in pro football.

Iceman

October 20th, 2009
9:48 am

2 games, the same refs, making craphole calls in both of em.

Fire somebody, NOW!

joey

October 20th, 2009
9:48 am

Dawgrific (8:49), Ummm, amen!

buck

October 20th, 2009
9:50 am

True but not as low at the UGA football team….

Bubba

October 20th, 2009
9:54 am

This is exactly what happens when money is involved. Powers-that-be are more concerned with revenue than they are with fairness. Watching some of these games and the calls, I’m thinking that the refs – and the SEC head of officiating – came directly from the WWE. Will Jim Ross be announcing the championship game?

Dan

October 20th, 2009
9:55 am

The fix is on for UF, LSU and Alabama. The league has become the WWF. No more SEC football for me. What a joke, and it’s creating a national backlash against the conference.

Considering the Atlanta market is one of the biggest in the country and full of UGA fans, it doesn’t seem like a smart business decision for the SEC to abuse UGA the way it does.

what really happened

October 20th, 2009
9:56 am

Be fair to these officials… remember how they got beat up everyday in grammer school thru high school and the again at the North Ave Trade school. Now that they have a little authority its get back time!

Dawg girl

October 20th, 2009
9:57 am

I totally agree. The calls this year have been horrible and not even just in the SEC. Did anyone see the tech game where the ref litterally moved the ball to make it a first down? It has gotten out of control and if the NCAA doesn’t step in; it will ruin the game.

squat

October 20th, 2009
10:01 am

why didn’t they call tebow for a 15 yarder win he made the 1st down and slamed the ball down and came up like the hulk…sec refs are one sided and they suck…

BIRDDAWG

October 20th, 2009
10:04 am

Well I know UGA has its problems right now, but I Feel and always will Feel that the officials are biased, heck its even obvious that espn hates uga. When we were #1 in country, espn wouldnt talk bout us for hours like they do their precious select teams. I remember last yr when Moreno made that awsome run and hurdled a player, epsn didnt air it until Richt called them to complain bout it and they even joked about it on tv,during college gameday, Oh well. I feel the officials should be held accountable for bad calls they make! Maybe a commitee to turn over bad calls during a game. The obvious ones not the ones in the gray area. SEC appologizing to UGA will not bring us back the loss not will it help ARK. Too little too late!!!!

Keep it Real!

October 20th, 2009
10:07 am

Hey let’s face it they are trying to get Florida and Alabama in the SEC championship which will guarantee a BCS championship bid. Hey this is the south and the referees have always cheated for the home teams. I saw Florida cornerbacks grab the jersey of the my Arkansas players on several occassions and we did not see a flag.

Florida and Alabama are very good teams but they are not great teams this year. Look at Florida schedule( Very easy)!

Their are no great teams in college this year. Any of these teams can get beat. Oh and do not give they were not ready or the bulldogs were playing their c-game.

RAMBLE ON!!!

October 20th, 2009
10:15 am

I guess those SEC refs were right about this one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doKelJl0BCA&feature=related

Sam

October 20th, 2009
10:18 am

1) While CBS has a strong financial stake in the SEC, the SEC needs CBS more than CBS needs the SEC. I am sure that if the SEC throws a tantrum and walks away from CBS’ money, that another league will step right up and take the 3:30 national slot and CBS’ money.
2) I want no taunting or gang signs or throat slashing. Celebration is just fine. It does not have to be done at the expense of another player.
3) If that crew is not suspended, well I have no idea.
4) I do not buy into conspiracies. Too many people would have to be involved and that many people cannot keep their mouths shut. I suspect that that officials were notified to be more careful about the celebration penalty so now they have swung the other way.
5) I did not see the CBS piece contrasting Tebow celebrations. Wish I had. Anyone have a link?

athensdawg

October 20th, 2009
10:23 am

glad to see the refs are providing fodder for a bye week tuesday…..please.

this discussion is for people who are looking for excuses.

The facts are plain.

1. Had the arkansas reciever not dropped that touchdown pass in the second qtr, they would have won 27-23. The kid had it in his breadbasket, and couldn’t haul it in. You can’t make that kind of play, on the road in the SEC, you don’t deserve to win.

2. Had Georgia played defense and special teams like a well coached, disciplined football team, they would have won vs LSU… Lord knows reams of paper have been written about this one already.

Let’s not deflect the blame here, or start speaking of vast conspiracy theories. Arkansas didn’t get the job done, and neither did UGA. The fans don’t need to start blaming the refs to justify why their team does not live up to their expectations.

It is what it is….you deal with the things that are under your control (catching passes, playing defense, playing special teams) and everything takes care of itself.

Had that happened, we would be talking about Ga/Fla being a potential semi-final for the eastern conference representative in the dome.

scott

October 20th, 2009
10:25 am

Do you have the SEC Officials office email or that of Redding? They have been well insulated – they should hear from supporters of SEC Football – it might make them more accountable.

JB

October 20th, 2009
10:30 am

Well, we need to go back to winning by 4 or 5 TD’s so they can’t stop us. that’s the only Answer. ANY tight game with Florida and Bama by any SEC team has to be closely examined. They might be a little hesitate now after all the stories…………but I doubt it…………………It’s big money, throw the damn flag is their motto.

murfdawg

October 20th, 2009
10:33 am

Bill,
Marc Curles was the official in the Bama game in 2008 who threw the flag for a phantom blow to the head on JPW that negated a turnover on Bama’s first drive. Bama was a better team,period. My point is, this call was simply a judgement call made by one official who thought he saw something. I thought it was a bad call then and it is a bad call now. Marc Curles was a poor official then and is a terrible official now.

BIRDDAWG

October 20th, 2009
10:33 am

I said it on the other bog and ill say it on this one. This is about the SEC officials bad play calling, not UGA bad playing. WE ALL know if UGA would have played better and not put ourselves in that position then we would have won the LSU game, OSU, etc. But when the its a close game and the officials can do something to help out their team they will in fact do it. Examples givin are too obvious!! How a bout in the GT game the ball mysteriously move foward three inches, come on man!! thats obvious!!!! of course that had no affect on the game but still obvious. How about the ARK/FL game, obvious offensive pass interference from FL and then the bad call on the ARK player for colliding with FL player who in fact ran in to the ARK player.

Arkansas TD club

October 20th, 2009
10:33 am

123456789

October 20th, 2009
10:34 am

The SEC (_______________________) [fill in the blank]
has sunk to a new low.

Just pick a category…ANY category:

*Player behavior
*Fan behavior (gotta pick up that trash)
*Academic standards
*Sports journalism
*Team Rankings
*Kool Aid supply (reality setting in)
*Officiating
*Legitimacy of referee-orchestrated Wins & Losses
*Credibility of Tony Barnahrt
* etc. etc. etc.
*