Blog Entry

SEC brings the wood

Posted on: October 30, 2009 5:15 pm

What if an airliner went down in your backyard? Noah’s flood came roaring down the street? How about snow in July?

The SEC would ask you to ignore the obvious tragedy, moisture and cold.

There have been plenty of all three lately in the Southeastern Conference which is more famous this season for what its officials haven’t done than what its teams have accomplished.

This being the world’s best amateur football league, officiating gaffes aren’t met with simple disdain by coaches and fans. They are viewed as tragedy – wrecking a team’s season; moisture – tears of gut-wrenching anger and cold – as in the temperature of the shoulder given the league office which oversees the zebras.

The ongoing story took another turn on Friday when the SEC said it would begin fining and suspending coaches who criticize officials. Forget the reprimands that have done as much good as a rubber knife in a gun fight. Commissioner Mike Slive made a point of saying after the next outburst -- anywhere by anyone -- things would escalate “right to suspensions and fines.” He was empowered by the conferences CEOs and ADs who basically gave him carte blanche to step up the penalties.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino was incensed after perceived missed calls against Florida. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen vigorously ripped officials who didn’t rule that Florida linebacker Dustin Doe fumbled before scoring a touchdown on an interception. (To be fair, I still can’t tell after watching multiple replays. Without overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the call was correct.)

Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin is working on the hat trick having been reprimanded twice this year. After critiquing officials’ failings in last week’s Alabama game, he practically begged for more from the conference saying he wasn’t concerned with “one of those letters”.

The outbursts had the effect of putting out fire with gasoline. Fans have reacted predictably. They screamed everything from conspiracy – critics have suggested that the league is helping Bama and Florida keep the team’s BCS and national championship hopes alive – to incompetency.

Nothing new there. All fans think their conference’s officials are the worst.

Throughout it all, the SEC has shown unprecedented transparency. For the first time it publicly admitted officiating errors and suspending the crew that worked the Gators-Hogs game. The cut was two ways, though, as the coaches were called out too.  

While the transparency has been refreshing and appreciated (at least by the media), the SEC just made a U turn. It is asking coaches to ignore that smoldering jet in the backyard, the rush of water coming down the street and snowflakes in summer.

What’s obvious to everyone else, will now be a conference secret. What bugs me is that there is no wriggle room. What is this, Havana? A conference spokesman told me that the commissioner can act with “discretion.”  What I want to know is a simple, “I didn’t agree with the call,” going to be met with a suspension or a fine? It’s clear the public vetting of officiating errors is about to end. There’s nothing like a suspension or going into a coach’s wallet to shut him up.

Still, it seems heavy handed and a bit reactionary. What disturbs me is that there will continue to be officiating goof-ups. It's human nature. The current point of emphasis on flagrant fouls and excessive celebration is asking for controversy. Ask a thousand people to define an excessive celebration or a flagrant personal foul and you might get 500 different answers.

As it is, officials are asked to make snap judgments. They don’t have the benefit of instant replay. They’re not professionals. These guys are contract workers who love what they do. There are no conspiracies.

Now they’re protected by the coaches’ lack of free speech because the SEC presidents and ADs have spoken.



Category: NCAAF

Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2009 9:33 am

SEC brings the wood

Yep.  Slive is a complete douche bag.  Coaches ought to be able to speak their minds.  Especially as it pertains to officiating.  Officials have gotten a free pass for too long.  Because of their numerous, monumental screw ups, instant replay was introduced to help address this.  So, how in the hell are they still missing calls?  Maybe we need to fire all human officials and let the cameras handle everything from penalties to touchdowns.  SURELY the cameras don't have a bias and they're incapable of cheating.  The zebras should be reduced to breaking up the occasional on-field fight . . . which still might prove to be too much for them.

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2009 3:04 am

SEC brings the wood

Brew44 I could not completely agree with you more.  Officals are public figures, public figures should be able to take criticism.  The President of these United States-criticized all the time as are all public figures.  This policy is just lame and stupid!!!

Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2009 2:39 am

SEC brings the wood

Mike Slive, you are an embarassment to college athletics.  You are asking men with millions of dollars on the line to keep quiet when your incompetent officials push them one loss closer to unemployment.  How bout we fix the terrible officiating first, huh?  Your letter to Petrino probably read something like "Sorry we screwed you over Bobby.  Just bend over and take it."  That's the kind of letter Kiffin was talking about when he talked about one of those letters that doesn't mean anything.  You don't fix anything except stemming the public outrage against bad SEC officiating.
Now, I hope Kiffin or Petrino or heck, even, Bobby Johnson, have the testicular fortitude to risk your petulant penalties the next time...and we all know there will be a next time...your pitiful refs take over a game for the latest undefeated flavor of the day.
You suck as a commissioner.   You suck as a dictator.  You suck.

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