Penalize this.

I’ve always admired exhaustive number crunching about things that I’m too lazy to pursue myself, so you should take a couple of minutes to read Dean Legge’s piece on Georgia’s history with penalties.  When you boil it down, there are two things to take from his article:

  1. Georgia’s penalty rate, particularly in nationally televised games, has accelerated in the wake of the 2007 Florida game.
  2. Georgia’s penalty rate has absolutely no impact on wins and losses.

Given the second data point, that means I really shouldn’t care.  And with regard to the rate itself, I don’t.  However (and you knew there was a “however” coming, didn’t you?), there’s a larger point of concern that can’t be brushed off merely by referencing Georgia’s record.  I think Legge’s on to something in his conclusion.

Do the officials have something against Georgia? That’s a question that can no longer be dismissed off hand considering the celebration penalty the Bulldogs suffered the other day – That call cost Georgia the game. But, that is an unanswerable question. Are the officials out to get Georgia? That seems a little too strong. Are the officials more likely to throw a flag on Georgia than they have been in the past? Yes. The numbers don’t lie. Since the 2007 Florida game officials, particularly in nationally televised contests, have only failed to flag Georgia for a personal foul once. Georgia didn’t have a personal foul called against them in the two games before the 2007 Florida game or in three of the four before it. Georgia fans like to remember the celebration during the win over Florida in 2007 – they are not the only ones. The officials seem to remember it, too – nearly every Saturday.

To be absolutely clear, I don’t think the fix is in, or anything like that.  But I do think there’s a heightened sensitivity for officials about Georgia games.  And I do think it’s detrimental, although not in the wins and losses department.

First of all, while there’s no doubt that the personal foul on Green chafes especially because it came against my team at a crucial moment, it’s not like I (as is the case with many others) haven’t bitched about the inconsistent way in which the excessive celebration penalty has been applied in college football before last Saturday.  It’s a widespread problem, plain and simple.

It’s obvious that the officials on the field have little guidance about how to make that call – on the one hand, you’ve got Rogers Redding’s bs about how “We tell our guys not to go looking for this stuff”, and on the other you’ve got these same officials being shoveled into “combines” where they’re made aware of the NCAA’s desire to emphasize sportsmanship issues.  Redding, as much as he’d like to, can’t have it both ways on this.  It’s made a bad situation worse.  And when you combine that with a sensitivity about calling Georgia games, well, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken so long for something like the Green situation to surface.

But even scarier to consider is Alem’s hit on Caleb King.  Again, I am in no way suggesting that the officials deliberately chose not to call a penalty in that situation in order to punish Georgia, but I can’t help but wonder if it in some way is a consequence, albeit an unintended one, of focusing too much attention on the kids in red.  In other words, if you’re more concerned with making sure that one team doesn’t cause problems than you are about anything else, it’s only natural that, sooner or later, that anything else is going to slip by.

It’s a tough enough game for officials to supervise as it is.  College athletes over the past few decades have only gotten bigger, stronger and faster.  I realize that can be hard to keep up with in every occasion, so why make the task even more difficult?

I obviously have no proof that anything like this is going on, but if Redding has a shred of professional integrity, he ought to realize that even the perception that Legge’s stats create is damaging.  If nothing else, there’s a need for another “combine” where he sits his officials down and addresses this.

51 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

51 responses to “Penalize this.

  1. SCDawg

    Understand the point about King, but until I saw the picture here, I had no idea that was an illegal hit while watching on tv. And I’m pretty sure I saw the replay, too.

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  2. Legatedawg

    But Redding does NOT have a shred of professional integrity. That is why this state of affairs is going to continue. The SEC Officials’ Office is a GnaT-infested cesspool. It needs to be addressed by Mike Slive.

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  3. Bulldog Bry

    Damn. I had resisted being paranoid until now, Senator. Thanks a lot.

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  4. Chuck

    “…but if Redding has a shred of professional integrity…

    If ifs and butts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. I have heard he is a Tech alum; that puts a damper of sorts on the integrity issue.

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  5. Turd Ferguson

    It’s really taking some effort on my part these days not to think that there’s some serious anti-Georgia sh*t going on somewhere behind the scenes. I mean, on the one hand, it seems like a pretty clear violation of one of the unspoken rules of fandom. And I certainly don’t ever want to be “that guy.” But on the other hand, it’s getting harder and harder to wave this all off as mere coincidence, bad luck, etc.

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  6. D.N. Nation

    This is the third time in the past five+ years that a Georgia player was the recipient of King’s sort of cheap shot with no official retaliation.

    2004- Junior Rosegreen on Reggie Brown. I was on the Plains that day, and there first thing on anyone’s mind around me (Barn fans included) was that Reggie was freaking dead. Rosegreen saw a defenseless player, and led completely with his head. After the hit, he took his helmet off *on the field* and danced to the sidelines. No flag on any of that.

    2007- Know what no one really remembers about the WLOCP? When Penn Wagers let Stafford get leveled. As in, allowed it to happen with his expressed consent. Florida player’s in the neutral zone, Stafford takes a knee, the Pennmeister refuses to blow the whistle for a good 7 seconds until the player gets a free shot on the defenseless Stafford. I would have fired Wagers at halftime for it, but hey, I only care about the well-being of collegiate athletes. Unlike the SEC, I suppose. (Don’t forget that Wagers, when he sadly had to flag Florida for it, noted that there was no Gator in the neutral zone. Complete horse hockey.)

    2009- The hit on King.

    Three years, three cheap shots. I guess give credit to ’07 for at least having a flag, though additional circumstances renders that kinda moot.

    But at least we’re flagging Reshad Jones for tackling too hard. (Though with Jones’ sidewalk slam on LSU on Saturday, one wonders if he’s going with a “flag this, jackasses” approach the rest of the year.)

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    • 69Dawg

      Less we forget the holding call on M M that Wages forgot the rule on. “We were not sure he was an eligible receiver.” He was a number 1 and Penn Wages is not that stupid. To miss a call or to ignore a foul is one thing but to not enforce the damned written rule about a first down on a hold of an eligible receiver was in my opinion deliberate and just another payback for the Celebration.

      We have been getting paid back for two years now and the beat down by UF and the lack of any penalty against Teabag at the end of that game was just SEC (GT) icing on the cake.

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  7. BeerMoney

    Here’s the other side of the coin: say there’s a questionable personal foul call that gets called on a UGA opponent and happens in a key/deciding moment of the game, then all you are going to hear is that it’s a makeup call for the LSU officiating debacle. ONLY THEN we will see the conference spun into anarchy/meltdown mode over our poor officiating that we have had to bear the brunt of for going on 2 years now. But as long as it continues to only hurt one particular team (us), then the status quo will continue to be the soup de jour of SEC refereeing.

    I also really enjoyed Urban’s calaculated badmouthing of the call because he knows that if the conference once to really enforce the rule going forward, that most of his players’ antics will no longer be tolerated as they have in the past.

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    • Paul

      To this day, I still don’t know how the Brandon Spikes tackle/taunt doesn’t get more publicity…

      Hell, he tackles him at the :06 mark in that clip and doesn’t attempt to get off Knownshon, despite being the only 2 players in the pile, until the :11 mark.

      Thank God Reshad isn’t allowed to protect the middle of the field. What kind of thugs we’d have playing college football then!

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  8. Wouldn’t Legge also need to take a look at opponents’ penalties to make the case that the refs have called Georgia games differently since 2007? If the refs were really out to get Georgia, then they would have called fewer penalties on the Dawgs’ opponents.

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  9. Does anyone know if the illegal hit on King was brought to Redding’s attention? I mean if he is going to apologize for the call on Green then he should at least send flowers to Caleb. I seem to recall that type of hit is made illegal to protect players. I just can’t stop stewing on this one as I want to see accountability. Oh well.

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  10. James Johnson

    To alter the outcome of a game it only takes a change in one or two plays. The outcome of the Ga/LSU game was decided by the refs – and I believe it was done on purpose. Yes Georgia is being singled out for “special attention” by the SEC officials.

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  11. Turd Ferguson

    The part I don’t really understand, though, is why the Celebration in Jacksonville would have this kind of effect. I mean, it’s one thing to be a little over-sensitive when calling fouls for the duration of THAT game in particular (like, e.g., to make sure that things don’t escalate into anything ugly between the teams). But (a) we took two personal fouls in response to that celebration, giving Florida excellent field position (which they promptly capitalized upon with a TD of their own), and (b) surely the officials noticed that Urban Meyer rubbed our faces in it last year during what had to be the worst ass-kicking we’ve endured since Richt came on board.

    Why would anybody still think that we’re somehow deserving of stricter officiating? I mean, surely they don’t think that Richt would ever allow something like the Celebration to happen again, so it’s not as if the officials have to be on guard for the team rushing the field at any moment. And by all accounts, we’ve suffered enough because of it. The scales of justice have long since been balanced.

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    • 69Dawg

      You assume that the SEC Officials aren’t still pissed by the suspension of the crew after the Shanks non-fumble. As long as the SEC sees no conflict of interest with the head of Officials being a graduate of the chief rival (GT) of one of it’s member schools (US) then we are doomed. I would gladly tell Mr Redding to his face that he would be a lying SOB if he claimed that he could be unbiased about UGA. We have been killing his former team for years. The SEC has a rule that no official from a SEC school can officiate at a game their school is involved with. Why then do they not see the problem with GT refs at UGA games. Bet Foley and Urban would gladly welcome FSU grads officiating UF games. This is simple madness that has gone on for years Bobby Gaston GT grad was the last Head Official and he was allowed to hand pick his GT successor. Our President and AD stood by and did nothing.

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      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        In a previous post on the conspiracy theory I reported that a serious Dawg watcher I know insists that there is a conspiracy and that it predates the 2007 event. I think you have figured out the real basis for the conspiracy, if there is one. The 2007 “celebration” would have only added fuel.

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  12. keith

    Love that you reference the hit by Spikes on Moreno. I said when it happened and have said numerous times since, that was most likely on of the worst non calls I have EVER seen in college football. If thats not taunting I don’t know what is. Not just by Spikes, but 6-7 other UF players gather around and celebrate the tackle and taunt. You can bet all your paycheck on the fact that if that had been any of our players hitting any of their guys like that, it would have been a 15 yd penalty.

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    • BullGator

      I’d say after you’re team’s anticks in 2007 you have absolutely NO room to complain about non-calls on celebrations or taunting from Florida…at least not the very next year. With that said, I think after the 2008 game all is null and void, and the call on Greene was atrocious. This sport is played for the entertainment of the fans. What if it was a soccer match? Those guys go crazy.

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  13. Boz

    Living in SC, and living with the constant Whoa-Is-Me/The sky is falling/Everyone is out to get us mentality of the Gamecock, I have a hard time believing the refs are out to get us. I just sounds pissy and loseresque. Its what people complain about when you don’t win. When you win, you talk about other things…

    I’d prefer the team (players and coaches) take a more introspective approach, especially at discipline. What are we doing to generate these penalties? While it may be true that our penalties have increased since the celebration, so it would appear that the lack of discipline has increased as well. Are penalties not a direct result of discipline? Undoubtedly, there is a fine line, but it seems we have crossed it and are having a hard time reeling it back in.

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    • Turd Ferguson

      “What are we doing to generate these penalties?”

      But what if the answer to that question is: Nothing that we weren’t doing prior to the Celebration … ?

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      • Boz

        Touche. But personal fouls are only part of the total number of penalties.

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        • Hackerdog

          That’s true. And we’re certainly guilty of the false starts, putting 3 men on one side of the kicker, etc.

          But the personal fouls are the 15-yarders that really hurt a team by design. And when the SEC officials are apologizing for making up fouls where none exist, you’re not being paranoid.

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    • SCDawg

      +1. The day I start sounding like a USC fan…

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Boz, did you not see the game? The refs had a meeting at midfield and made up a penalty out of thin air. It changed the outcome of the game. Numerous TV broadcasters said so themselves. The situation is clouded by the LSU touchdown run. If things worked out like they normally do LSU would have run down the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal and everybody would have been able to see more clearly what the refs did.

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  14. pup

    If Slive has any balls he will take action on this Redding hack. GATA!!!!

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  15. While I disagree with the “cost you the game premise,” I’ll offer this — in 2007 LSU was one of the more penalized teams in the conference — might have even been last, I don’t actually recall the specifics, but I do remember this:
    — Several (almost all in fact) of the teams on LSU’s schedule somehow happened to have their season low in penalties in their game against LSU.
    — The LSU defensive line, which included Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman were never the subject of a SINGLE HOLDING PENALTY.
    — An SEC official had a plain view of this:

    and called nothing.

    So while I don’t know much about bias, I do know that SEC officials are completely incompetent.

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    • I can’t find my post on the subject, but I thought your guys got screwed royally by the refs in that game.

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      • I have a general practice of not jumping to conspiracy conclusions when incompetence is the more likely scenario.

        And the fact that Rogers Redding still allows for Penn Wagers’ employment can only be seen as proof that he honestly just doesn’t care about the quality of officiating in this conference.

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        • So do I. I don’t think it’s so much a case of a conspiracy as it is some resentment over being shown up by the Celebration and a mindset to keep an eye out for any future antics. Combine that with the regular level of competence and you get the officiating problems exacerbated.

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  16. GADawgGood

    Redding can still review the Alem spear on Caleb King and impose sanctions before this weeks game per a new rule this year. Damon Evans needs to bring this to Redding’s attention. If this rule will not be aplied now, then when?

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  17. Irishdawg

    I’m a believer that we’re getting singled out, and I also believe it affects the games. Penn Wager’s officiating let Auburn back into the blackout game until UGA ran away with it. Look at when some of the calls have come since ’07; a fumble recovery against Alabama negated, an interception against Florida negated, a highly favorable 4th down spot for Florida, etc. It’s not only the penalties, it’s when they get called.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      When a penalty gets called is the most important thing. Then the crooked refs can do a make-up call later when it doesn’t matter and the stats will look even. That’s how they do it.

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  18. GADawgGood

    Penalties, in and of themselves, certainly do not help you win the game. I can think of many instances where specific penalties stole momentum and hurt our chances to win. I have two theories on why penalties and wins are positively correlated. 1. Penalties sometimes happen more when the team is playing with more intensity. The intensity more than offsets the detriment of penalties. 2. UGA might run a tighter ship when playing opponents more likely to beat them. Against inferior opponents, UGA plays very sloppy and runs up the penalty yardage but still have enough talent to win it anyway. Don’t be too quick to assume more penalties help us win. That’s insane.

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  19. Dienekes Dawg

    I think it is clear that many believe the Endzone Celebration was a milestone event. Whether or not it is the actual cause of the refereeing bias (intentional or not), can be debated–I think it is. The same can be said for the Green “Celebration” Incident. I believe it can be a milestone event also–in a good way. Given all the public uproar over the celebration–even from the Urban Legend himself–I think this creates an incentive for the referees to correct their prior bias. Maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t but it is a possibility. What a burglar wants to avoid is light–now that a potential bias (again, intentional or not) has been exposed, the referees just might change their behavior. It cost us a game–but it might have corrected a long-standing bias.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      When you turn on the light in the kitchen the cockroaches run for cover. I just don’t think enough light has been focused yet. It will be still, though, with a little luck.

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  20. Joe B.

    Hopefully this entire issue will force the SEC to hire a new director of officials. It is absolutely ludicrous to have that many Gtu guys running the show.

    What would happen every time a call went against Alabama if there was an Auburn guy running the officials?

    Same for Scu and Clemson, UF and FSU, etc, etc.

    How the hell does Al Ford have a job? Not only that, but he is the REPLAY OFFICIAL. Does anyone else find that darkly hilarious?

    Maybe Tim Brando was on to something about the celebration, and the officials are aiming their vitriol at our Athletic Director?

    Penn Wagers’ kid was on the team with AJ Green in high school. Maybe he is jealous and has told the refs to be AJ’s kryptonite?

    All of this stuff sounds ridiculous in a vacuum, but when you see the same results over and over again, any possible scenario is brought into play.

    The irony, of course, is that Mark Richt is one of the great men in the profession, and for him to be the victim of some sort of crazy revenge plot is crazy.

    Someone at UGA needs to be putting continuous, strong pressure on the SEC to remove the Gtu alums from points of power within the officiating ranks.

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  21. Hogbody Spradlin

    What’s the word: subconscious? Officials are trained to make reflexive judgments, not deliberative judgments. They’re trained that way because being slow/indicisive has worse consequences, like losing control of the game.

    I don’t believe this SEC official supervisor, or the officials in general, have a vendetta or mission against Georgia, or they even come into a game wary of Georgia. I could be persuaded that their subconscious preconceived notions have been tilted. In journalism it’s a sin (or used to be) if you’re ‘biased’ but you can get away with being ‘slanted.’ That may be what’s going on here.

    Sorry for the 50 cent words.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Hogbody, you are to kind to the bastards. The pricks know exactly what they are doing. It ain’t subconscious.

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  22. ConnGator

    Or maybe Georgia players took Richt’s command to commit a personal foul very seriously and have continued to behave thugishly ever since.

    The interesting thing to me is that Florida’s defense was so bad that year that no celebration was necessary.

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    • Joe B.

      Perhaps one of the players will get so angry as to assault an official and get banned from athletics?

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    • Hackerdog

      Look at the video of Spikes dry humping Moreno for a better example of thuggish behavior than dancing in the endzone. The difference is that UGA got 2 flags on that play versus 0 for UF.

      As for coaches encouraging poor behavior, you can’t see it, but I’m thuggishly staring and pointing at you right now. It’s a big deal.

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  23. Rocketdawg

    I am not sure I buy into the conspiracy theory as much as just general incompetence. I honestly think that sometimes they go out and find people off the street and hand them ref uniforms.

    The problem is not the amount of penalties it is the timing of them. How many drive killing holding penalties or drive extending PF or PI calls have we been subjected to over the past few years?

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  24. georgiadawg85

    I think Dawgnoxious over at georgia sports blog summed it up great. We need more transparency in the SEC official selection process. This business where it’s a GT dynasty that gets handed off to another GT schmuck every time there’s a vacancy has got to stop.

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  25. T-Lud

    I finally worked up the nerve to watch the replay of the LSU game, mainly because I wanted to see the Alem hit on King in real time. It really wasn’t as vicious as the still photos imply because Alem was actually moving in the same direction as King. Caleb had been spun around and was falling onto his back but with forward progress. Alem was trailing the play, and it actually looks more like Alem left his feet to jump over Caleb in an attempt to miss him because he realized King was already going down. I don’t think there is an official in the country who would have or should have thrown a flag on it. And if that is the hit that concussed and broke Caleb’s jaw, then King is a much bigger badass than I thought. He played a lot after the Alem hit, and was very alert and productive. I think the hit that actually injured him was laid by Karnell Hatcher on the drive that resulted in the Green TD/penalty. That was a very serious head-on collision that decleated Caleb, but it was clean. My badass comment may still hold true because King stayed in the game after the Hatcher hit as well. I still can’t find where Tavarres got his concussion; his reception on the go-ahead drive was almost as clutch as A.J.’s.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I disagree. I remember seeing the Alem hit during the game and being surprised a flag was not thrown. The hit occurred after King was wrapped up and was going down. It was as he was only a couple of feet off the ground. In fact it looked a lot like a “piling on” situation where someone was already on the ground. It clearly was a “spear” with Alem leading with his head. No effort was made to avoid. And it was a shot at King’s head. Alem should have been called for and intentional foul and ejected. Another example of bad SEC refs not doing their jobs–maybe on purpose.

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