Thursday, November 5, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
A few weeks ago an SEC coach railed against the officials regulating his game for the bad calls which he said that they had made. The coach, Bobby Petrino, is relatively new to the SEC. One year and a half removed from the NFL ranks, he took over the Arkansas Razorbacks when coach Houston Nutt left. Apparently, Petrino’s outspoken complaint started the domino effect.
The following game weekend two more SEC coaches took issue with the manner in which the “zebras” had regulated their respective games. Both of these head coaches are SEC ingénues. It is not unthinkable that coaches new to high-powered leagues such as the SEC will exhibit short fuses when faced with situations which they thought should have gone their way.
Coaches are human and so are the striped-shirted crews who operate the whistles. There have always been, and probably always will be, mistakes made on both sides. Anyone who has ever coached or officiated will bear witness. But first and foremost, order must be preserved.
And that is why all of these leagues, at all levels, have commissioners. And the commissioners derive their authority from committees over them.
After one of the aforementioned coaches (Lane Kiffin of the Tennessee Vols) stated that the letter of reprimand which he received meant nothing, the SEC boss, Mike Slive, decided to throw a flag of his own. The Commish gave notice that further infractions by coaches would bring fines and suspensions. Apparently, the conference is moving toward a zero tolerance policy where its officials are concerned.
Slive is making the sabre cut both ways. He suspended the crew which had supervised the LSU/Georgia game and the Florida/Arkansas game which had raised Petrino’s ire. (The PAC-10 also suspended an official for missing a call a week ago.) Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs also received a letter of reprimand for his asking that a replay official be “severely punished” for allowing a Florida touchdown to stand. The Gators beat MSU 29-19. Both Kiffin and Mullen thought that Alabama and Florida had received the favoritism.
Coaches need to be careful. Officials probably text each other across the conferences. There are calls which are not subject to review. And then there are the strictly “judgement” calls. These can be deadly.
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