Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beating A Dead Horse

Not sure if you saw this (h/t:Mike in Valdosta). Marc Curles, the referee for the crew that was suspended after officiating the Arkansas vs. Florida game, issued an apology for his botched call on the personal foul. Let me be clear, I don't think they were or are on the take. I don't think they are looking to keep the SEC teams that are undefeated, undefeated. I don't actually think they are subconsciously biased against certain teams. I do, however, think they forget the very first rule of officiating: Don't guess a call.

After the penalty in Athens against AJ Green, the official couldn't have seen AJ do anything, he was screened out by the other UGA players. He just saw Georgia players jumping around, and AJ facing the crowd. The line judge in that case made the decision that something must be going on, even if he couldn't see it. Out comes the laundry.

It seems a similar thing happened in Gainesville last Saturday.

Marc Curles says as much.

"I saw out of the corner of my eye -- the play went over near the sideline," Curles recalls. "I'm trailing the play, moving in that direction. And out of the corner of my eye, I see a vicious blow, and I see the Florida player go flying down 20 yards behind the play. And in my mind, the Arkansas guy had blindsided him and knocked the player that was completely out of the play, which would have been a personal foul. Obviously, that isn't what happened. Where I made the mistake is I didn't see the whole thing. I didn't see how it developed. I saw out of the corner of my eye what I thought was a foul. I can't think something is a foul. I got to know it is. And that was my mistake. And I know better than that. What makes me mad at myself is that I know better than to call something if I didn't see the whole thing. And I've been sick about it ever since, quite frankly."
Look, we all know that feeling. We all have had that moment when we made a snap decision based on something we thought we saw. It happens about once a day if you have kids. It is just that Marc Curles did it in front of 90+K jean short wearers and a national TV audience. I certainly don't advocate calling his house, emailing him or blowing up his cell, but I understand why people are upset.

It is good to see him thinking about this in terms of improvement. Two weeks ago, the head scratcher happened in a game that was close, but hey, if Georgia could stop a run or a kick return, the penalty doesn't turn out to be determinative. Plus, there was a make up call. Last weekend, there was no such opportunity. Bobby Gaston Rogers Redding (hey, you see one guy from Tech, you've seen them all) doesn't want a public hanging, but my guess is that Mike Slive stepped in and said someone needs punishment, because Mike Slive and the conference can not afford the perception that the fix is in.

Seriously, Marc Curles did a very manly thing in his apology and owning his mistake. Here's hoping he and other officials learn from it.

It was me.


  1. Agree. I do hope Mr. Curles finds a different weekend job however. I'm not convinced he (nor any) SEC official is capable of officiating a game.

    Oh, and Bobby Gaston is gone. Remember, we traded him for another NATS grad to head SEC officials, Rogers Redding.

  2. I agree with you in stating that the officials aren't making an effort to help UF. You're also right in that if UGA can defend the kick, it's not an issue in our game. To compound the calls in the UF game was that every UGA fan wants to see the Gators lose. I'm not saying we're going to turn it around and beat UF. However, if they lose to Ark., UGA can now control their own destiny and still get to Atlanta. That's why, I think, the calls irked the UGA fans so much. At least that's what makes me the most irate. Now if we beat them, we have to hope someone else can pull the upset.

  3. Pretty much everyone in America not wearing jorts wanted to see the Gators lose. I think that is playing into this as well; not only is there a perception that something is fishy, but there's greater outrage b/c of what the calls lead to - mainly - a result that the nation didn't want to see. I think both of those factors put enough pressure on Slive, as Bulldog said, to force Slive into action.

  4. Subjective penalties requiring officials to "characterize" certain behavior in the closing minutes of a game are an abomination. Offsides, holding, etc require a certain amount of discretion, but there's a decades-long general consensus about what it is and what it isn't. Celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct are in the eye of the beholder, and when the outcome of the game is on the line, the beholder should reserve judgment for the truly egregious examples.