More officiating goodness, continued

Honestly, I was ready to move on past the Penalty story, but it looks like it’s crossed over from being a mere partisan concern to a political one.  By “political”, I mean that Rogers Redding and his posse have moved into the ass-covering, arrogant phase of dealing with the matter.

Take, for example, this wonderful sentiment:

“We move on,” Redding said. “This is a teachable moment for us to let the officials know to remind them of the rule and remind them of their responsibility to make good judgments. This is always going to be a judgment call just like pass interference is a judgment call or holding or roughing the passer or offsides or anything else.”

“We move on” is bureaucrat-ese for “tough shit, losers”.  And for all that high-minded nonsense about making good judgments, let’s not forget the initial response to the criticism.

The officiating crew said in a statement issued by the SEC on Saturday night that “following a brief team celebration, Green made a gesture to the crowd calling attention to himself.”  [Emphasis added.]

The cynic in me wonders why the conference didn’t exercise better judgment and wait until it had a chance to review tape before reflexively supporting the official who made the call.

And after reading this letter that David Ching posted, it occurs to me that Redding’s posturing isn’t so much for the benefit of the individual officials who are faced with making these calls, but for the people who are supposed to be giving those very officials the direction and guidance they need to enforce the rule.

A little history on the “Celebration” Rule might help everyone to better understand the current, more rigid situation:

The NCAA Rules Committee consists of 16 members from different size schools from around the country. These Rules Committee members are all well respected, intellegent [sic] individuals that have good intentions for the game of football but many of them do not know the “ins and outs” of the game on a grand scale…only 6 of these members are from Division I-A schools and there is very little representation for or input requested from the actual football officials before rule changes are made!

Every year, the NCAA Football Rule & Interpretations Book has a “Points of Emphasis” section for the new season and every year, “Sportsmanship and Penalty Enforcement of Unsportsmanlike Acts” is in this section…it is covered in detail and thoroughly discussed in every college football officials clinic and training session across the country before every season. The obvious purpose for this is to have uniform and consistant [sic] enforcement of the NCAA Rules wherever a college football game is played and regardless of what conference officials are working the game!

The trend toward individuals drawing attention to themselves, rather than celebrating with their teammates, began in the late 1960s and has continued to grow, due greatly to the increase in TV coverage at more games and the influence that the NFL players have on college players. As a result of the changing attitudes of players and their negative actions on the field, subsequent rules committees have added specific violations and severe penalties to these rules so that today’s “Celebration” Rule has very little flexibility!

What makes this so problematic isn’t outright racism, as Tim Brando recently hinted, or anti-SEC bias against Richt (although, as I said in a recent post, the call was so bad I certainly can understand anyone at this point who raises that sort of question).  It’s the cultural divide that exists between people like Redding and the kids that are trying to play an emotional game within limits that aren’t always made clear to them.  David Hale gets to the heart of this brilliantly.

… I find it nearly impossible to believe that there is any direct racial discrimination happening here, but I also am worldly enough to know that we all bring our preconceived biases to the table in everything we do. This rule is interpretive by the officials, and as Rogers Redding told me today, that leaves a lot of room for criticism.

“The officials are called upon to try to draw the line between what’s allowable in terms of teenage enthusiasm and what is either demeaning to an opponent or casts a negative image on the game from a standpoint of a player singling himself out and drawing attention to himself after making a really great play or a routine play,” Redding said.

So I’ll ask you, does your background — your opinions on things like tattoos and dreadlocks and dancing on the sidelines, your thoughts about how people talk and what type of music they listen to — do those things affect how you might judge a person’s actions?

None of these decisions are made in a vacuum, so while I don’t believe for a second that there are nefarious motives here, the way the rule is written leaves the door open for many of our preconceived notions about other people to sneak into the decisions being made.

And that in a nutshell is what the problem is with the rule, or, more accurately, proper enforcement of the rule.

I’ve got two final observations to make before shutting up for good on this topic.  First of all, Redding is completely full of fecal matter when he says this:

David Hale: After reviewing the film of the excessive celebration flags in the Georgia-LSU game, what did you see?

Rogers Redding: The first and the last one were fine. The one that followed the touchdown with a minute to go, we felt like after reviewing the video that the call should not have been made.

If what Charles Scott did justified a penalty, then flags should be flying five or ten times a game, every game.  That call got made for one reason and one reason only:  the officials knew they’d made a mistake with the penalty on Green and had no choice but to call the one on Scott to cover their asses.  Which makes all of the “teachable moment” and “good judgment” blather nothing but sanctimonious claptrap.

Second, with all this concern about a player’s “attempts to focus attention upon himself”, as the rule states, how come there isn’t a similar concern about an official’s attempt to do the very same thing?

I’m sure Redding will get back to us on that sometime.



Filed under College Football, The NCAA

32 responses to “More officiating goodness, continued

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Decision review, high definition TV, You Tube, blogs. I don’t know whether it’s for better or worse, but there’s simply nowhere to hide mistakes anymore. The A.J. Green penalty would be shown up as a mistake no matter when it was called, but it’s just one case among many lately.


  2. Jack

    “So I’ll ask you, does your background — your opinions on things like tattoos and dreadlocks and dancing on the sidelines, your thoughts about how people talk and what type of music they listen to — do those things affect how you might judge a person’s actions?”

    Nice attempt at bringing race into the discussion. What’s next; the reason GA is one of the most penalized teams in the NCAA for the past couple of years is due to racism?


    • Oh Buddy

      No, it’s because we screw up and get caught more than other teams. If our fans don’t honestly recognize how undisciplined we’ve played over the past couple of years (and yes, it coincidentally dates back to around the 2007 UF game), then we’ve got many fans who have never played a sport or hell, lived by any set of rules, in their life. If we play a consistent, disciplined game and still get called for that many penalties, then I’ll start to feel differently. Sadly, I think we are a few coaching changes away from that.

      This penalty was simply the cherry on top.


    • Right, Jack. Because only black folks have tattoos and listen to rap music.


      • aristoggle

        Spot on, Senator.

        I think it’s too convenient to blame this on ‘racism.’ For one thing, it diminishes the argument when true racism is exhibited. For another, it’s just too easy.

        That said, perhaps there may be an argument that there is a cultural bias. When a bunch of old guys are in charge of enforcing policies on a bunch of rambunctious kids, I believe that biases will come into play.


    • SilverDawgFrank

      Race is part of this conversation. Bigotry is easily spotted by an inflection, a tinged word or a smirk or laugh.

      If you pay attention. I do.


  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    I’ve been one of the “well we had chances to stop them” folks.

    I may be wrong. Wish Hale would ask A.J. and some of the team about the emotional impact of the penalty …

    I am afraid I am just now accepting the possibility the officials may HAVE cost us the game.


    • aristoggle

      Interesting point …

      I think this could play out two ways.

      The first is the “we was robbed” scenario in which we lay down and the season unfolds in a melancholy funk.

      Or, we could come out on fire with righteous indignation and kiss some Volunteer ass. (And, if we win out, we hold the tie-breaker over Florida … okay, I’ll put down the cough syrup.)

      If Saint Erk were still around, I know how it would play out! Let’s hope there’s some of his spirit left in the locker room.


      As the original Senator Blutarsky would say, “Let’s do it!!!”


      • aristoggle

        Of course, I meant KICK some Volunteer ass … just got excited.

        Can’t help that I’m an optimist. I even put up a rain gauge during the drought.


  4. Oh Buddy

    I wonder if LSU will request an official explanation of the Charles Scott penalty. Redding says it was justified, but I haven’t seen any statement on it akin to the one(s) they have released on AJ’s, and I certainly never saw anything out of the ordinary on TV, ESPECIALLY for a last minute, go-ahead score.

    I am not ready to fully dismiss the racial thing, sadly. I point to Tebow and our own Pollack (for the sake of those getting too worked up over Teabag). By these rules, they should be/have been called any and every time, however it is/was NEVER even considered. I certainly take Hale’s points with high regard and agree with many of them, but you simply don’t see many of the white players with tattoos and dreadlocks. Those judgements, IMO, do have some racial undertones to them. Hell, our own fans get angry when our players dance to music, but didn’t get angry when Pollack jumped up and down waving his arms for 50 yards after making a good play. I’m stretching here, and I recognize that, but I simply don’t think Brando’s point can be dismissed.


    • … but you simply don’t see many of the white players with tattoos and dreadlocks.

      You haven’t watched much Texas Tech football lately, have you… 😉


    • Oh Buddy

      “Redding said his video review of the other penalties showed they were both justified, though Scott said he was merely pointing at the sky to give credit “to the Lord” — not gesturing toward the crowd. ”

      I had somehow missed that in the Barnhart article. Absolutely confirms that the only reason they called that is because of AJ’s. If only we could cover kickoffs….


      • Rob Barrett

        If you watch the replay of Scott, he’s pointing at the crowd, by himself. By the letter of the law, this is an extremely easy call, and would be hard not to throw a flag on.

        I think it’s a bad rule. But no explanation is needed for the flag on Scott, it was obvious.

        OTOH, no one yet has been able to show what AJ did.


        • Maybe you’ve seen a different clip than have I, but what I saw showed Scott pointing upwards, not at the crowd.

          It was a bad call, made for only one reason.


          • Russ

            Agreed, even watching it live, I thought Scott was pointing to the sky. It was a make-up call, pure and simple.


            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              Again, a make-up call is not intended to try to make things fair because of a mistaken call. It is intended to give the ref cover for making the initial bad call when the victim complains. “See, I called it both ways.” The classic make-up call is given when it will not help the victim, when it is meaningless.


          • Rob Barrett

            That wasn’t my take, obviously (nor the announcers’) but you surely may be right. Reflecting how bad the rule is, though, is that his action, done by himself in celebration, should still be a penalty.


  5. baltimore dawg

    “unsportsmanlike blackness: white privilege and college football officiating.” i smell a cultural studies dissertation here. . . .


  6. ugadog80

    Sec officials suck.They missed the td call on AJ against ASU even after review.


  7. Toom

    Dead on as usual. Dooley even pissed me off by equating the judgment call to a judgment on a holding penalty. The HUGE difference is an official is paid for his expertise in determining whether or not a hold occurs. An official should not be the authority on social mores, which is what this ridiculous crap boils down to.


  8. Munson's Call

    I plan to see if David Hale can get an answer on this. Can anyone explain to me why a defensive player is allowed to flap his arms to encourage the crowd to make noise before the snap? Why isn’t this flagged for a penalty under the current rule?


  9. The Realist

    I say nothing. I simply nod knowingly with “I told you so” wishing to escape. Of course, that’s not very realist of me is it.


  10. Tasm

    Is it just my fading memory, but wasn’t there a year prior to 2007 under Coach Richt that it seemed Ga. players would be penalized for spitting on the field? On another note check this website. (don’t know how to move link.)


  11. 69Dawg

    How is it not a conflict of interest that the head of SEC officials is a GT grad. It is on it’s face a conflict, then we learn that GT officials are regularly calling our games. Do FSU grads call Gayturd games???? Do Clemson grads call SC games???Do Memphis grads call UT games? Why should the rule prohibiting a ref from an SEC school not being able to call a game at his school not be a rule for any ref of a rival school?? Do GT grads suddenly become impartial toward a schoo; that has killed their school for years just because said school is not playing GT. Hell no. Redding is as proud as a Nerd can be when UGA loses. Would somebody explain this to me, please.


  12. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The story coming out of Redding sounds an awful lot like a cover up to me.


  13. Jack

    When all else fails, play the race card. If it doesn’t exist, invent it.
    One thing is certain, it makes for a convenient excuse.