Working the refs

I haven’t been shy about mocking Spurrier’s complaints to the SEC about various policies the conference has put in place, but I can’t blame him for his latest grumble.

A personal foul was called against Swearinger after he launched into UAB’s Patrick Hearn while breaking up a pass in the third quarter Saturday. The side of Swearinger’s helmet crashed into Hearn’s facemask. Both players stayed in the game…

… Spurrier pointed out Sunday that a Vanderbilt player was given a 15-yard penalty but no suspension for a similar hit against Gamecocks tight end Justice Cunningham.

Here’s the hit on Cunningham, for those who need a reminder:

This is the can of worms Mike Slive has opened with his new, laser-like focus on targeting.  And before you say, “that’s just Spurrier”, note that Steve Shaw felt compelled to respond to Spurrier’s comparison.

On replay, although contact was made to the receiver’s helmet, the primary contact from the Vanderbilt defender was to the shoulder area. The Vanderbilt defender never lowers his head and the contact is made with his facemask up looking at the South Carolina receiver. It was a foul because there was glancing contact to the receiver’s helmet. In the UAB contest, based on video replays, the contact was initiated by a slight launch of the defender into the receiver and the primary contact was targeted directly into the receiver’s facemask.

Now whether you think that’s a load of hooey or not, that’s an awful lot of detail you’re asking officials on the field to absorb in a short time.  (Remember that the player who received the season’s first suspension wasn’t even flagged on the play.)  And it’s setting things up for an awful lot of second guessing in the aftermath.

None of which is to say that sending a message about targeting isn’t a worthy idea.  But the devil’s in the details.  And details aren’t something at which the SEC has always excelled.


Filed under SEC Football, The Evil Genius

64 responses to “Working the refs

  1. Lrgk9

    Gruden said the best replacement rookie refs for the NFL are in the SEC (& Big 10). Lord, can you imagine our giddyness and the results if Penn Wagers was called up to the NFL.

    The SEC refs overall, though with numerous excellent individuals, are pulled down by other cr@ppy ref’s incompetence and overall inconsistent administrative management.

    As a group, would rather watch directional kickoffs coordinated by Fabris.

  2. Gravidy

    As I said in a previous post on this subject, I hate the rule. But I hate the enforcement even worse. Slive’s habit of knee-jerk suspensions is going to cost a UGA player a game, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m going to be fucking pissed about it when it does.

    • What fresh hell is this?

      I just hope Grantham is coaching ’em up to avoid a suspension.
      Hear me Shawn?

      • Gravidy

        I hear you, but I’m not sure how much control Grantham (or anyone else) has over this. Personally, I saw no difference between the two hits discussed in this post. Yet one player was suspended while the other wasn’t.

        And you have no idea how much it pains me to be in agreement with VisorHole on anything. I think I need another shower now…

        • gastr1

          There was a difference in the two hits discussed in the post–let’s be honest. In my opinion, there was no difference between the one by the Vandy player and the one by the Ole Miss player who was also suspended.

          Also in my opinion, all three should merit a penalty and at least a warning–the same punishment, regardless of the variation. Trying to separate degrees of distinction on the field is useless and results in juts the sort of bullshit Steve Shaw is peddling. You hit them above the shoulder pads in any way, and it’s a penalty and whatever else the conference adds. End of story.

          You have to make it black-and-white for the referees. Gray is not a shade they can see. Possibly no one can see gray in these circumstances.

          • Gravidy

            First and foremost, let’s you and I make a deal. I won’t question your sincerity if you won’t question mine. If I type something on this blog, you can be assured I’m “be(ing) honest”.

            Secondly, I agree with the main point of your post. All that wiggle room and gray area (combined with the subjective nature of it all) is precisely why I don’t like the rule or the inconsistent way in which it is enforced.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              I think this may become a non-issue soon. The DCs and DB coaches will instruct their players to go low and take the receiver’s legs out. That may actually end up being worse in the long run for player safety. Receivers will get flipped and land on their heads as well as have serious knee injuries as a result. I saw exactly that last weekend in a PAC 12 game (sorry, don’t remember which one) and there was no flag.

    • Nate Dawg

      This. Should we just go ahead and figure S Williams out for the fla game?Speaking of incompetence, did ya see the “forward progress” call on the punt in the bammer game? Wow – although it had no consequence on the out come – I worry about that stuff for a UGA game.

      • DWH

        Yep. Everyone that I was watching the game with pretty much just sighed and said, “Only Bama”.

      • Gravidy

        No, I didn’t see any of that game. But if you are telling me an SEC crew made a controversial call, I’ll feel free to go ahead and not be shocked by that. 😉

      • What fresh hell is this?

        Holy shit Nate Dawg, I was worrying about him being suspended for the Tenn game considering last years post-Vandy-game “festivities”. Now I have to worry about UF too?

        • Nate Dawg

          Gravidy – exactly. It was borderline conspiracy theory stuff, for me anyway.
          Freshy – I have a tendency to over-project my pessimism. But yes. siiighh.

        • The Lone Stranger

          Drop the burden, mon ami. SJ3 does the worrying wholesale around these here parts.

    • Head injuries cannot be taken lightly. I work with them. These folks look as normal as you and I look, and can even hold good jobs. But a lot them results to poor decision making in the long run including poor impulse control, not only in sports but in daily situation, like driving. When I examine the history of some those involved in accident where they are mostly the offending side, a closer look reveals some remote history of brain injury. You just can imagine how many of these kind of drivers are around. Just scary.

  3. Your last paragraph should be put in the Bible.

  4. sUGArdaddy

    I don’t like it. I thought that’s what penalties were for. Why get double penalties? Me thinks slive will back off after this last suspension. I would guess shaw will advise him as so. Shaw’s one of the best, and his comments hint that he gets the details. We shouldn’t suspend guys for football plays – bottom line. Heck, make it a 20 us penalty, and punish the team, but I don’t think in this day and age players are trying to hurt other guys that way. I think it a fast game and there’s a fine line between your shoulder and head when you’re going full speed and aiming at a moving object.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      While I agree with most of what you said, there definitely are guys out there that intentionally try to hurt other players. Exhibit 1–Nick Fairly.

  5. Chuck

    Soooo…. Did Cunningham have to leave for one play because his helmet came off?

    • Dawgfan Will

      Seriously. That is rule that, while stupid, should be very easily enforced, and yet I have seen several games in the first three weeks in which players’ helmets came off and they stayed in for the next play.

    • gastr1

      You only have to leave if it comes off without the aid of a hit, I thought.

      • The Lone Stranger

        Nope. Only if the hit results in a penalty can the player remain on the field. In Cunningham’s case, he was allowed to stay out because there was a penalty whistled.

  6. rugbydawg79

    Uglydawg–thanks for the clarification there-glad you were not talking about Gravidy’s last comment

    • Gravidy

      Yeah, because that would have been unconscionable. If you have a factual rebuttal to my comment, let’s hear it.

      • SCDawg

        Maybe he just meant there aren’t a lot of F-bombs in the Bible? At least not in the New International Version.

        • Gravidy

          You may be correct, sir. But it would still be nice to hear it from RugbyDude.

          • I have no problem with Gravidy’s post, but the comment wasn’t meant for his “words” which would be a little on the colorful side for scripture.
            Gravidy, I think Rugby was just reinforcing my clarification.

  7. What fresh hell is this?

    “Now whether you think that’s a load of hooey or not, that’s an awful lot of detail you’re asking officials on the field to absorb in a short time.”

    It seems to me the officials on the field only need to be concerned with a hit to the neck or head of a defenseless player to determine if a flag should be thrown. The NCAA has the luxury of looking at fine detail in slow motion replay with no time constraints in order to determine whether there was an intent to target vs incidental contact above the shoulders.

    I agree with Shaw’s explanation, and while I rarely agree with the NCAA, I think they got this one right.

    • NolaDawg

      I was thinking the same. It seems hits like this will be reviewed regardless of whether there was a penalty, and suspended if there was launching, targeting, or intentional helmet o helmet. While the last is the most difficult to ascertain, I agree with the preceding post that they seem to have done a pretty good job describing why one received a suspension and why one didn’t. What remains to be seen is how consistent the suspensions are, but I like at least some attempt to remove this from the purview of on field refs who, as Blutarsky points out, do no have the resources to get the call right.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        “that’s an awful lot of detail you’re asking officials on the field to absorb in a short time.” Does this mean they miss the next three of Vandy’s chop blocks?

        I wish Mr. Shaw’s boys put as much time into pondering things like celebrations and intentional grounding.

        This whole business worries the living shit out of me.

    • Cojones

      Fresh is correct. The suspensions are called from slow motion observations and correct as explained. However, the call of the play from a ref NOT looking at slow motion makes it a ref’s decision. I don’t feel there is inherently more error in this judgement call than there is in pass interference, holding and an extra step before hitting the QB. They are all judgement calls. Same goes for hitting out of bounds. If, in the ref’s judgement, the tackler had a chance to pull his hit and didn’t then he will get called for a personal. Not that much difference in judgements.

      That doesn’t apply to the call on AJ’s celebration call. Ref’s who have that vast a difference in making that call shouldn’t be refereeing. On that same line of thinking, remember the-ball-tossed-in-the-air celebration penalty? I winced when Tavarres flipped it up after a good reception in the FAU game. Like how high does it have to go? Now that’s a nebulous barrier I’m anxious to hear explained.

  8. Macallanlover

    At the risk of being labeled a non-caring, “let’em die” old fart, I reiterate my position on how we are treading in dangerous water with the wussification rules and fear of ambulance chasers and political correctness. This does not mean clearly deliberate acts which endanger player safety should not be punished, and punished harshly.

    There is a difference in a player hitting a runner/receiver near the boundary than hitting someone 4 yards/2 steps out of bounds, one should be no penalty, the other shopuld be ejection and 15 yards. There is a difference in hitting a QB high at the point of the pass, and hitting him 2 steps after he has thrown the ball. One should be no penalty, the other should be 15 yards and a possible ejection. There is a difference in a DB hitting a receiver/runner in the helmet area at the point of the pass arriving in that area and one lowering.his helmet to spear a defensiveless player, one should be no penalty, the other should be ejection/suspension and 15 yards. Same with a lineman blocking low, give him a penalty but one who (listen up Lil Jimmy Franklin) runs a player down and cowardly dives at the back of his legs with intent to injure. That lineman should be penalized, removed from the game, and suspended for the season.

    You can determine intent, imo, and you can enforce lowering the head to make a hit, or see a player target a defenseless player late. It won’t be perfect, so if it is not clear, make it a penalty and move on. If it is obviously an intentional hit to injure, make the punishment VERY severe. Change it to more yards, or give the SEC office the power to impose penalties from 1 game to a season. It is the difference to me between premeditated homicide and an accidental injury/death as a result of someone defending themselves. One can be totally excused because that type of individual represents no threat to other citizens in normal circumstances. The other should get the severest punishment we can give because that person meant to harm/kill. If we have to debate it, there shouldn’t be a suspension. On the other hand, if it is clearly obvious, the punishment should be MORE severe than one game.

    • Cojones

      Mac, the “let’em die” fans talk tough on the internet. You don’t. Sensitivity opinions are elicited by some and you ain’t one of them. You may even have the very same opinion, but if it’s followed with tough talk, then you should hear the other side unfettered. You don’t post that way. Further, folks change their minds through happenstance of life. I viewed the old in-the-cage brutality as part of toughening up in the 60s, but later realized it served no good training purpose other than what we labeled it. Upon reflection, I saw no correllation between that exercise and tougher players on the field.

      Mac, I prefer your sensitive posts, especially when they usually speak for me. And you know that I can disagree with anyone at the drop of a hat.

      • Macallanlover

        Oh I know that Brother. We have some strong, significant differences but see the rights/wrongs of CFB from a similar vantage point.

        I am not in favor of over aggressive behavior against players not in the play, and certainly not after the play but I am getting very concerned that rules like the new displaced helmet penalty, the hits near the sideline while a play is still live, the hits in the upper part of the body but not at the head, and even the overwhelming majority of hemet to helmet hits are being overly targeted with officials and should be allowed to stand. At the speed of play, with at least two humans involved moving independent of one another, there will be times where helmets will hit each other with a very small number resulting in serious injury. I am not minimizing the cost an any one single injury that results in paralysis, or worse, but to think you can legislate all injuries out of the game is naive. We should be stern with cheap shots, train athletes to keep their heads up when tackling, and treat unnecessary hits far away from the play as unnecessary roughness. Nothing wrong with having players pull up from hits like th edo when a QB is sliding. It doesn’t make a player talented, or tough, hitting someone from the blindslide once that player is no longer a threat to impact the play. That is as soft as I can get to reduce injury (now that the kickoff rule is in place.)

  9. Mike, Not Gator Mike

    Anyone else think those announcers sounded like they came from Mid-South wrestling? Couldn’t you just hear them yelling, “Oh my God….Kerry Von Erich was just hit with a metal chair…!!!”

  10. Bright Idea

    If a player like the Ole Miss guy gets suspended for a non penalized play then so should the official that failed to throw a flag if it is truly about safety.

    • Macallanlover

      Careful, you are bordering very closely to calling for accountability. Not a popular theory in this country these days, especially when they can form a group to protect them is they get criticized, reprimanded, or punished. Had we been holding SEC refs to a standard of performance for the last 15 years, we would not have the problems we now face on the field with lack of consistency in the application of rules.

      We also need to take a closer look that the passion for CFB in the Southeast to “prefer” certain teams hasn’t crept into the officiating crews. There have been some dramatic instances of badly missed calls over the past decade that make you scratch your head because they seem to go beyond incompetence. I have always stayed away from being a conspiracy advocate but understand that not investigating these, and taking firm corrective action, has led to a widespread feeling other factors are involved. I am sticking with the incompetence side at this point, but any identified pattern should be addressed. The Gator Chomp no-penalty that happens over and over (came up again last weekend) vs the AJ Green abortion comes to mind. I know the SEC office aqdmitted that was a blown call, but it wasn’t to me. That official had to deliberately go through his mind, draw the hanky from his pocket, and pull the trigger. Why would he do that on a player that wasn’t even close to the line?

      • I believe sometimes, certain refs cheat…period. I think it’s rare but it happens. I believe a lot of refs get “caught up” in playing to the crowd. I’ve mentioned this before, but I once did a study on college basketball statistics. In almost every singe game I reviewed, the home team was called for less penaltys and threw more free throws. It was very rare that this “rule” didn’t apply. I know we’re talking a different sport, but we’re also talking human nature and I think it’s pretty consistent regardless of the shape of the ball.
        The SEC has the very, very, worst football officials in the world. Even if every SEC official was perfect, when you average in PW, the whole group falls to sub-sub-par. I saw the look on his face when AJ was scoring. He was pissed. He’s probably a closet GT or UF fan.

  11. Rhymer Dawg

    I commented on this same type of stuff yesterday on another thread.

    But basically I have to say that this hit by the Vandy defender vs the Swearenger hit was exactly the scenario I was talking about. How meticulous is the SEC office going to be. I used the first suspension by Trae Elston as an example. His hit looks exactly like the Vandy defender’s hit. I just don’t understand the precedent that is be set here by the SEC office.

    Most people will make the assumption that the dilemma of these types of calls by the SEC office are either to save football players lives versus the violence inherent the game. But neither of these should be the horns of the dilemma. A hit of this nature does not automatically save a player’s life and to assume that the intention of the rule to do so is an over exaggeration. Also neither does this have anything to do with the inherent violence of the game. The problem is the way in which the hit is delivered or how the violence is maximized. For example, there is inherent violence in battle but how that violence is delivered is the difference between Rangers on the beaches of Normandy and soldier’s atrocities at Mei Li.

    Honestly, the real problem with all this is the enforcement of a rule that was already in place. If there is such a problem now, then why did the refs not enforce it. If there is a problem now, then should the reaction be to demand extra focus or extra punishment.

  12. LOL, I think SLIVE is just tired of hearing about the favorable schedule of UGA over those cockaroo which ofcourse imply that SEC favored GA at least this season, so Slive made his chess move to change the topic. Typical strategy of a manager. NEXT.


    Senator…please bring this up in the dialogue.

  14. DCB Dawg

    Steve Spurrier can go F himself, period. If he’s getting the short shrift from the conference office these days, so be it. IMO, he’s earned it for his years of mocking and backhandedly complimenting other teams while at Florida and South Carolina. I’m just amazed that he didn’t work in a shot at UGA into his latest complaint.

    • I love it, DCB! Thanks for “cutting to the chase”. Good old fashioned, unfettered hate! Let it be, let it be! Anything bad that happens to SOS (as far as football goes) is to be celebrated. It seems our list of teams to hate just keeps on growing. GT, UF, SC, TN, AU, and even Vandy come to mind.

      • Cojones

        That blood in the water gets tasty, doesn’t it? Many of us have those same feelings about the same list. SIC’EM.

        • The Lone Stranger

          And it will get tastier still, compadre, after that first BIG lick is laid come about 8 pm. My educated money (oxymoron, or no?) will be laid with Williams, of course, although with the continued absence of Rambo the Dawgs may keep him from creeping too close to the LOS. Of course, not really knowing how CTG deploys Safeties, play-to-play, leaves me more or less clueless. But the anticipation for that first blow remains.

  15. I’m a knuckle dragger,I know, but can’t most of this be resolved by use of the boxing warning,”protect yourself at all times”. I don’t think a receiver should be allowed to crossover the middle without at least contemplating the consequences of reaching and extending to catch a bad throw. The attempt to foster the illusion of safety is just that an illusion. Remember Rambo getting knocked clean out against Auburn 3 years ago. Big people running very fast towards a mutually desired object(the ball) is going to creat some painful collisions ,ad hoc post collision justice is not going to make anyone safer. Tell the receivers to protect themselves at all times and get down if they need to. I’m going to go file my cleats and polish my leather helmet now.

  16. SlobberKnocker

    Gawd I hate to agree with Spurrior!

  17. Lrgk9

    Ahh, for the good old days of Jack Tatum…

  18. kckd

    Am I missing something here. The Vandy player wasn’t suspended right? The suspension came because it’s clear from the video the Carolina guy led with the helmet. What’s the beef? They looked on the video and one seemed to have more harmful intent than the other. Seemed pretty fair to me. Both the penalty calls and the suspension and non suspension.

    • I think you have to factor the Elston hit into the equation to get the full flavor of this, kckd. I don’t see any difference between that and the Hal hit on Cunningham.

      Here’s the current score card:

      Hal: penalty, no suspension
      Elston: no penalty, suspension
      Swearinger: penalty, suspension

      If you can explain the logic behind those, I’m all ears.