Some Curles-gate thoughts

So the dirty deed’s been done.  There’s no question that Marc Curles’ crew made a botch of things in two straight high-profile conference games and their mistakes merited some negative consequences as a result.  So why has this whole thing left me underwhelmed?

Well, first and foremost, there’s the hypocrisy.  cocknfire perfectly sums up the ludicrous decisions by Commissioner Slive to conduct a public execution of the officials, while at the same time wagging a finger in Bobby Petrino’s face:

Mike Slive: Do as I say do, not as I do
Bobby Petrino is in trouble for criticizing the officials for getting the calls wrong, an event followed by the SEC criticizing and suspending the same officials for getting the calls wrong.

“Coach Petrino has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics,” Slive said in a statement.  “SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from all public criticism of officials.”

So is Mike Slive now going to reprimand himself?

Fat chance of that.  And how weird is it that this whole episode has wound up making Petrino a sympathetic figure?  I feel a little dirty about that, myself.

Here’s the thing.  As I posted yesterday, even if you want to excuse Curles and his bunch for the sportsmanship penalty on A.J. Green, it’s impossible to give him a pass on his half-assed explanation of why he threw the flag on Malcolm Sheppard.  But why should Slive and Rogers Redding get a pat on the back for yesterday’s decision to suspend the officials?  It’s not like these are the first bad calls in the history of the SEC.  It’s not like the conference doesn’t have the resources to do something about the officiating.  It’s just that the conference hasn’t been motivated to address the problem in a serious way.

So in one sense I very much get the point Matt Hinton makes in this post about how the Pac-10 reacted to a couple of bad calls in the USC-Notre Dame game.

… the Pac-10 handled the situation as exactly what it is: Routine. The review/correct/move on process all comes from a basic acknowledgement that, try as they might to prevent them, bad calls are a routine part of the game. Mistakes happen all the time, on a weekly basis, and this is the process to acknowledge them and hopefully correct them in the future without weaving a sticky web of retribution that, if applied consistently, would surely engulf every ref on the roster at one point or another, while also undermining fans’ faith in their competence.

Which just makes the reaction in the SEC to equally routine mistakes in the Arkansas-Florida game that much more baffling…

But I think there’s a little more to it than Matt does.  Yes, mistakes happen, refs are only human, there’s a process to deal with that… okay, fine.  But repeat that process over time and it’s corrosive.  One reason perhaps that there wasn’t much of a hue and cry over that Pac-10 reaction was that the conference has made it very clear, over and over again, that it simply doesn’t care what the fans and media think about its officials.  So if Slive feels a bit more sensitive about the reaction the SEC got from all quarters, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Except if all that comes out of this is a little public humiliation of Curles and his crew, I doubt that’s going to fix anything.  And that’s the other part that’s hypocritical here.  Dennis Dodd gets to the next step Slive should take if he really wants to address the problem.

You want more competent officials in college football? Hire them, make them employees. As it stands they’re still moonlighting on Saturdays. They are insurance agents, financial advisers and bankers first…

Exactly right.  You think that’s gonna happen any time soon?  I’m not holding my breath.  All those millions of dollars pouring in and the conference can’t spend a few thousands doing the obvious.  That’s sad.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Some Curles-gate thoughts

  1. Ty Webb

    The NFL doesn’t have use full time refs (Hochuli’s a lawyer, for Christsakes). Why should the SEC create the only full-time football referees in the world? Maybe there’s a good reason, but every argument in favor of doing so ignores the fact that it would be unprecedented.

    • Why is the NFL the gold standard on this?

      The SEC doesn’t need to use full time refs everywhere – it would be a good enough start if the head official for each crew and the replay official were full time employees.

      • Pumpdawg

        Ty’s right it would be unprecedented.But the SEC is widely regarded as THE best conference in the NCAA.So maybe the SEC should be the one to set the standard.I’ll have to go with the Senator on this one.

  2. Dawgy1

    These officials no matter their full time occupation are paid well to do a job that they have supposedly been well trained to do. If they are incompetent fire them and get someone who can do a competent job.

    It’s not like they’re volunteering their time.

    BTW, these bad calls weren’t judgement calls. These calls were basically just made up.

  3. Dog in Fla

    Matt Hinton’s proofreader writes, “Is anyone willing to call for a Pac-10 official’s head for the next three weeks, and they (sic) we all hear about it in an official conference announcement?”

    Matt must have gotten some bad medicine that made him think that:

    (1) Georgia and Arkansas fans were calling for the heads of the bad call officials. According to Slive there was a request for a public hanging which, at least in SEC country, differs a from decapitation http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/hangings-too-good-for-em/ and

    (2) PAC 10 fans, other than the close friends and relatives of PAC 10 players and coaches, care anything at all about what goes on in a college football game.

  4. 69Dawg

    Speaking of competence, can anyone look at the Umpire on Curles crew and not wonder who he’s married to. The guy is grossly overweight, can’t run, can’t get out of the way half the time, can’t even bend over to place the ball, I’ve seen Curles do it a number of times. The guy is going to have a heart attack on the field and die hopefully the SEC will figure out that he is hurting the credibility of the refs as much as bad calls.

  5. PNWDawg

    My thoughts:

    1. What exactly does Curles have to say or do to be exonerated? I’m as angry as anyone about the poor officiating but at some point you just have to move on. I think he’s miserable enough with the nasty phone calls and emails, the suspension, etc. I seriously doubt he wants to experience this again. If his explanation isn’t good enough then so what. He admitted he was wrong. Move on.

    2. I’ve been having more grief with the double-standard for poor-sportsmanship. I.e. I detest how Tebow is allowed to run around acting like a primate without consequence. But then I was reminded how calls have gone the way of superstars and top teams for years. E.g. Michael Jordon got away with carrying his entire career, Patrick Ewing maybe dribbled the ball once, the Bush Push, and even A.J. has been credited on this blog with getting away with pushing off. The perception often is that the great players and teams don’t break the rules and therefore they get away with quite a bit. Key word is perception.

    3. As I hinted to in bullet point #2, bad calls have been happening for a while. Remember Colorado getting 5 downs? Remember that little kid that helped the Yankees by stealing the ball from the center fielder? I’ve admittedly gotten caught up in the excitement of all the conspiracy theories but as some point I had to tell myself it’s garbage. I’m going back to being angry about our inability to play defense and run the ball. I think fixing that will more than likely help our cause.

    4. My solution to limiting the poor calls. Have the stinking ref in the booth radio down to the officials on the field that the call was bogus and continue with the game. How hard can it be?

  6. georgiadawg85

    Major League Baseball has full-time umpires. The NBA has full-time referees. Football is the only major sport where the officials are accountants and insurance agents who got hooked up with the officiating job through their professional connections. Case in point: Mark Curles. He is an employee of Lincoln Financial/Jefferson Pilot, who previously had the media contract with the SEC. Anybody doubt that that is the reason he got the job?
    Bottom line: the SEC treats it’s official selections like an old boys club. And like any company/organization that is an old boys club, it sucks and is substandard in every way.

  7. The Realist

    Officiating is hard. I don’t blame the officials when they miss the little things, because that’s part of the game. They are human, and they are not going to get everything right, and even though fans tend to remember every little call that they think is bad, most allow the officials some margin of error.

    My beef is not with Curles and his crew of merry men, but with Rogers Redding.

    Curles’s crew made a bad call in the LSU-Georgia game. That’s fine. There are procedures for dealing with that. However, part of those procedures should be to remove you from the marquee matchup the following week… especially if you come out and publicly acknowledge that the crew screwed up. Now, this crew has garnered waaaay more attention than they deserve because their supervisor set them up for failure…. and, now they’ve been thrown under the bus by being publicly excoriated again.

    I am all for the professionalization of SEC officials, but change needs to start at the top.

    • The Realist

      Btw, Penn Wagers gets no safe harbor from me. Nothing kills an erection like seeing Penn Wagers referee a game.

  8. I’ve never understood why any mistakes made by referees (or umpires) gets forgiven with the words “well they have a very hard job.”

    A lot of people have hard jobs. When they fail to do them correctly, they generally face discipline or lose said job.

    And so long as Penn Wagers continues to be employed by the SEC as a football official, I will continue to believe it really just doesn’t care if referees are bad at their jobs.

  9. Ty Webb

    I honestly have zero problem with Penn Wagers or his crew. I think he gets singled out for having an easily remembered name.

      • Ty

        Ooh, one example and “talk radio” allegations. Have you ever heard a ref go on talk radio and discuss past games?

    • Macallanlover

      I don’t see how you can have no problem with Wages. He clearly isn’t mature enough to manage his emotions, and cannot get over himself.

      First he penalaized UGA excessively for the celebration in the gator Bowl. UGA deserved the penalty only because it was “excessive”, there is nothing wrong with celebrating as a team, but we took it too far with players coming off the bench. I have no problem with that. But the 2nd penalty was simply a temper tandrum worthy of a 3 year old. TS’s continuing to dance was meaningless. Wages allowed himself to get carried away. A referee has no more right to be excessive than a player, maybe less since he is supposed to be responsible and mature.

      Then, as it that weren’t dumb enough, he admitted he really had a serious issue with UGA’s demonstration on interviews/talk radio afterwards. What? You penalized a team TWICE for one foul which was overreactive, now you are telling me as an adult you are unable to go forward without thinking about UGA negatively? You need counseling, and are too unprofessional to be handed another game. Never has one incident been so over blown. You can understand UF fans, they aren’t the brightest anyway, but a person of responsiblilty for future games admitting he can’t get over it? Pathetic.

  10. He’s been involved in almost every major official screw-up this decade.

  11. Irishdawg

    “A lot of people have hard jobs. When they fail to do them correctly, they generally face discipline or lose said job. ”

    Absolutely. And really, how hard a job is being an official. Learn the rule book and have a pair of eyes and functioning frontal lobe. Apparently, even that’s not necessary in the SEC. These screw ups are a big deal; two games in a row were decided by the officials rather than the play on the field. That’s unacceptable.

  12. Ausdawg85

    Occum’s Razor….two possible explanations for the suspension. Slive completely backtracks on his position and comments (no public hanging) to accomplish…what? Fan satisfaction? Or Slive investigated and found something deeper warranting the suspension.

    I don’t believe the conspiracy theories either, but you be the judge.

    Suspensions for “poor judgement” alone seems questionable. Maybe the crew admitted to bias, or were uncooperative with the review, or called Slive’s Momma a bad name, but there has GOT to be more to this story. And until it’s known, you can’t really find the proper solution.

  13. Dawg N Suds

    http://blog.al.com/solomon/2009/10/cbs_rides_tide_gators_to_high.html

    It is no secret the SEC wants the big paydays with both Florida and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and in the BCS bowls. The networks who shelled out over $200 million to the SEC per year to air the games expect to see a return on this investment. SEC has an opportunity for an even larger payday with one undefeated team in the BCS Champinship game and another team in a BCS bowl.

    One of SEC’s junior officiating crews protects the largest ratings draw (Florida) twice by taking Georgia down and keeping Florida undefeated. They do it through non-reviewable penalty calls late in key games where the outcome is going the wrong way for the SEC.

    Slive protects his ruse by giving this crew a couple of weeks off and offering a weak apology to the offended schools. The heat gets hotter, so he publicly throws this crew under the bus.

    When the heat dies down, Slive bring this crew back like Kramer did with Al Ford’s crew.

    Later, Petrino gets uppity, so Slive puts him back down in his place on the SEC plantation next to the passive Richt and Evans.

    Remember this the next time you see Florida or Alabama in a close game and the flags start flying late.

    Oh, and remind me to not see a game with The Realist.

  14. Dog in Fla

    “Oh, and remind me to not see a game with The Realist.”

    You will be safe. Just make sure it’s a Penn Wagers game. If it’s a game Penn is not officiating, look out and step away from The Realist…