Georgia coach Mark Richt and Athletic Director Greg McGarity have had extensive conversations with SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw and other league administrators about the targeting calls that went against the Bulldogs in this past Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. We won’t likely ever know what came from those discussions, but you can bet something did.
Would you bet on something you’ll never see?
To be clear, the crew working the Georgia-Vanderbilt game blew at least one call. But Shaw through an SEC spokesman declined comment to the AJC on Monday and the league office refused to disclose whether there might be any discipline forthcoming as a result of those reviews.
“Steve doesn’t talk about individual calls,” said Herb Vincent, the SEC’s associate commissioner for communications. “He has a conversation with all the officials after the games. He’ll have discussions with the coach about anything he sees that may be of concern. But those conversations are never public. All that stuff is dealt with in private.”
Yes, why should there be any open accountability? It’s not like anybody saw what happened Saturday… well, except for everyone who saw what happened.
It really amazes me the lengths to which the conference goes to protect the delicate fee-fees of its officiating crews. The SEC is more than happy, as is the case with its peers, to chastise a coach publicly for criticizing poor work from referees, but heaven forbid a public reprimand from the conference when one of its employees blows a call. (Or two.) And remember, this wasn’t your ordinary in the heat of the moment boo-boo. This one had legs.
Obviously, Saturday’s crew butchered the call on Ramik Wilson. The Georgia linebacker did everything as he had been taught when he hit receiver Jonathan Krause shoulder to chest and separated him from the ball on a fourth-and-four in the fourth quarter. Wilson’s ejection was overturned by replay but the 15-yard penalty stood – there is currently no provision to reverse that — and Vanderbilt retained possession and went on to score a touchdown rather than turning over the ball on downs.
If you’ve looked at replays, you’ll notice that the umpire Tom Quick, who was standing right in front of the play and saw the whole thing unfold, did not throw a flag. He signaled for an incomplete pass. The official that did throw a flag – late in fact — was field judge Michael Williams. Williams was positioned across the field, a significant distance from the play, and in front of the Vanderbilt bench.
Has anyone in the SEC office considered the possibility that official, public criticism of a decision like that might actually have the effect of curbing some of the more egregious flag throwing? Obviously, not seriously. But the quiet chats and threats of losing out on choice bowl assignments aren’t doing much to rein these guys in from taking matters into their own hands when they feel like it. Maybe a little open shame would be a good thing.