Friday, October 9, 2009


I have always liked Louisiana State University (LSU), heck, even just to the thought of it (Geaux Tigers!). The rich history of that august institution features the infamous (but right) William Tecumseh Sherman who in 1859 accepted the position as Superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy in Pineville, Louisiana. That institution would later become LSU. I remember my pledge trip to LSU and the Louisiana Beta chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon like it was yesterday. Well, it wasn’t – it was in 1963 and those Brothers and their hospitality were great. I was required to hitchhike from Oxford to Baton Rouge and it felt a little like an Arthurian Quest.

I lived in Georgia for thirty plus years and developed a strong affection for the University of Georgia, their famous Yale cultivated hedges and the integrity of folks like Vince Dooley and the iconic gravelly voiced Larry Munson, not to mention their ever evolving academics. Don’t you just love the Hope Scholarships?

When the Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers football teams, both highly ranked, played last Saturday it was anticipated by all as one of the best matchups of the year 2009. This would be a closely contested football game with the winner having a good shot at or at least affecting the national championship race. I really didn’t care who won, rather wanted to see a well played, hard fought game where the outcome was unblemished.

The game was all that though the outcome was unfortunately tarnished because of an official’s error. Now there will always be an asterisk on the game notes. The game was a defensive contest until the last five minutes when most of the points were scored. The Bulldogs were losing the game until Georgia quarterback Joe Cox with only 1:09 left in the game threw a sixteen yard touchdown pass to AJ Green who made it so only because of his brilliant, heroic catch. With Georgia’s defense intact all they had to do was kick LSU deep into their territory and hold on. That didn’t happen because AJ Green was absurdly and wrongly flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following the score. All Green did was stand there while his teammates mobbed him. It was an innocent, youthful celebration and nothing more… and all within NCAA rules.

The penalty put LSU in field goal range immediately and a deflated Georgia defense could not stop LSU running back Charles Scott who scored on a 33-yard run with 46 seconds remaining to give LSU the victory.

Now let me be clear. To their credit, LSU dominated the statistics and were clearly the better team for most of the game. They sucked it in and scored when they had to. That said, you don’t like to see the outcome of a game determined or even remotely influenced by an official’s call – right or wrong.

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) football referee (we’re not naming names) - OK Back Judge MICHAEL WATSON – who threw the flag for so called excessive celebration following the go ahead touchdown with one minute of play left in last Saturday’s Georgia-LSU tilt has apologized for the call after the Southeastern Conference (SEC) indicated that the call was “improper.” The bottom line was that the call gave LSU the opportunity to drive a relatively short distance down the field and score the ultimate go ahead touchdown.

Watson’s supervisor intoned that Watson was unnecessarily beating himself up for the call. Well, I certainly hope so and note that his reflection on his performance is necessary and critical. Look in the mirror, Michael. You are the main reason why LSU won. Knowing LSU, their coaching staff and players, I suspect they feel cheated as well.

Emotion, passion and enthusiasm are an integral part of the game of football and sometimes the difference between victory and defeat. Take that away and all you have is a bunch of lock step professionals going through the motions. Just look at the Dallas/Arlington Cowboys to date…


Ned Buxton

Well, this same crew of officials led by SEC referee Marc Curles has done it again. The SEC has ruled the referees working the University of Florida-Arkansas football game last weekend were incorrect when they made a crucial personal foul call against Arkansas – one that ultimately allowed the Gators' game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. There were also two other questionable calls including one for pass interference made on that same drive against Arkansas that gave Florida a crucial first down.

This is the same crew that blew the call in the Georgia-LSU game we highlighted earlier that essentially gave LSU the impetus and the ultimate win.

The SEC suspended the crew for two weeks to ostensibly think about it. This decision has come under some scrutiny with some critical of the SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s decision to punish the crew. Many others including many SEC fans I have consulted feel that he didn’t go far enough.

The human element aside, we all need to be held accountable for our performance – good and bad. The atrociously bad calls in these two games affected the strategy and possibly the outcome of the game and perhaps the seasons of these two losing football teams.

Then there are those folks who will assure you that a “W is a W” no matter if it’s earned, gifted or stolen. So which was it? Well, they sure weren’t earned and I would have given those officials more time to think about it…


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