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.