Forget about the gag rule nonsense for a minute, as well as the conspiracy shuffle. The Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon asks the question that Mike Slive ought to be asking right now – and getting answered: Is SEC putting officials in best position to make calls?
Check out a few of the facts that Solomon drops in his piece.
- For all of the justified criticism directed at instant replay official Gerald Hodges for not awarding an interception to LSU’s Patrick Peterson against Alabama, the fact is the play was originally side judge Dean Waite’s call to make… Waite is in his first year in the SEC after working in the Sun Belt last year.
- Steve Shaw, who has worked six BCS bowl games and is widely considered one of the best referees in the country, has disappeared from high-profile SEC games. So has linesman Lane Thomas, who is also well respected.
- Most conferences, including the SEC, use retired officials on instant replay. They retired from the field for various reasons – sometimes because they’re no longer what they used to be.
- The SEC office reported its 2007-08 expenses totaled $153,967,658, including payouts to all 12 schools. Of that amount, $737,904 went to officiating and umpires in all sports, down 21 percent from two years earlier.
It’s hard to believe that the conference can’t do better than this.
“In the context of this conversation, it may sound incongruous but we do have as good officiating as there is in the country,” he said. “The difficulty is there’s a tendency to extrapolate from some highly visible calls to denigrate the entire officiating program.”
… maybe it’s not so hard.