*Annoyed Grunt* ... more gripes about officiating
Ugh, I'm getting tired of bitching about refs in this space. It's really starting to piss me off.
But you know what pisses me off more? OFFICIALS DISPLAYING STARTLING AMOUNTS OF INCOMPETENCE IN BOTH NOT-SO-WEE AND FRIGGIN' HUGE BALLGAMES!!!!
I suppose I can start chronologically, where we saw Duke get absolutely handed two games this past week. In the first, they held off BC 83-81 after Shelden Williams broke his own record (which was established about two weeks ago in the Blue Devils' loss to Georgetown) for "Most Egregious No-call on an Obvious Foul That Jack Fu has Ever Seen in His Life." In case you missed it, late in the game BC's Tyrese Rice drove to the basket and was met chest-on by Williams, who went up for the block, came about a foot away from actually touching the ball, and body-blocked Rice to the ground, sending the ball flying up in a random direction with nary a whistle from the officials. It was basically the exact same thing that happened against G-Town, only, you know, more blatantly obvious.
A similar situation occurred Saturday, as Duke held off those pesky Florida State Seminoles, who are languishing at 4-5 in the not-as-good-as-everyone-thought ACC. And they had to hold them off at home. This time, with FSU down 2 and under 10 seconds left, a Seminole guard drove to the basket and was met by Williams. The guard jumped into Williams, initiating a little bit of contact in what I thought was properly deemed a no-call. The problem is, the ball then clearly went out of bounds off of Williams. But hey, who cares? Duke ball, game over. On College Gamenight Final later that evening, Douggie Gottlieb said over the highlights, "And as we learned against Boston College, you are just NOT gonna get a call against Shelden Williams."
And that's not even the most hilarously annoying thing about it all. It was then pointed out that -- similar to Knight's old Indiana teams -- Duke has made more FTs this year than their opponents have attempted. Against FSU, Duke was 31-43 from the line. FSU was 10-11. In the second half and the overtimes, Duke shot 31 FTs. FSU shot 6. And, as Gottlieb pointed out, it's not like Duke was clearly "the aggressor," as idiot commentators so often say when they want to try and justify an unjustifiable foul discrepancy: FSU shot a measly ten three-pointers, less than half the number Duke shot. They were driving the ball to the basket. It's just that once they got there, the un-foul-committing Shelden Williams was there waiting for them.
It was hilarious watching the CBB Gameday crew try to justify the foul numbers. I love Jay Bilas, but he was frighteningly Vitale-esque during his predictable "you can't prove anything" rant about any perceived bias toward the Blue Devils, while Vitale himself looked like his head was about to explode as he shouted (and I'm not kidding) "They just have better players than everyone else!" Jesus, I hope some of you guys got to see that.
More alert and forthcoming commentary came from the aforementioned Gamenight crew of Dave Revsine, Gottlieb, and That Guy That Coached Vermont Last Year. Gottlieb's point was that this kind of thing happens everywhere, on every home gym (which I DO NOT agree with, but let's move on), and that the difference between the Blue Devils and everyone else is that Duke actually gets the benefit of officials' whistles on the road, too. This is evidenced by the fact that in the previous game, the BC one, which was played at Boston College, Duke shot 37 FTs to the Eagles' 13. That gives them a combined discrepancy in those two games of 80-24 in FTAs. Unacceptable. Anger-inducing. Let's move on.
On to the supposedly most Super of Bowls, where some ridiculous calls unfortunately shaped large chunks of the game. I'm not going to lower the "bias" boom on any of the refs, but Cheeses. Let me first say that, while mainly just wanting to see a good game, I was semi-rooting for the Steelers. I don't know if I drank into the Bettis Kool-Aid or if I like RoethlisBoban or what, but I guess I was ... not waiving a Terrible Towel per se, but ... I don't know, picking up a Terrible Napkin off the floor, like a sign of begrudging respect.
But that all went out the window. I'm tired and don't feel like saying more, but these were the three principle botched calls that jacked up the game:
1.) The offensive pass interference penalty on Darrell Jackson. Simply a retarded call made by an overzeaalous official who felt like the people needed to know that he was at the game, dammit.
2.) The holding penalty on Seattle on the throw that got them down to the 1, on the verge of taking a 17-14 lead on the visibly deflated Steelers. This penalty could charitably be described as "sketchy at best." The old adage is, "you could call holding on every play if you wanted to." Well, if you're gonna call that one, then in order to be consistent, yeah, you'd probably have to call holding on every play. As we all know, two plays later, Hassellbeck threw a fatal pick that Pittsburgh was returning...
3.) ... when Hassellbeck got called for "blocking below the waist" WHEN HE TACKLED THE GUY MAKING THE RETURN. All of a sudden, you're apparently not allowed to tackle by taking out a guy's feet. At least if you're the Seahawks. Especially damaging because the yardage from the penalty moved the Steelers out to about midfield, where their patented brand of schoolyard trickeration becomes most effective. And it did.
Am I pissing and moaning about this because, let's face it, the game was shitty (KK called it "a game that brought back memories of the grand old days of dull, poorly played Super Bowls.") and we have nothing else to talk about because the only viable "angles" for the game were driven into the ground in about 3.82 nanoseconds? Probably. But I'm still pissed.
More on horrific Super Bowl officiating here ("My three Steelers MVP coices: 1. Hines Ward, 2. Casey Hampton, 3. The officials," and "I hate putting the game on the ref’s shoulders, but I could not believe what I was watching on several plays," among many MANY more comments about the refs) and here ("Even John Madden, as reliable an apologist for the NFL as there is, started questioning the calls.").
Also, comrade Sweaty Mens has a high-quality post up touching on a bunch of these issues, including a Diddy Special: the "He had money on the game!" gambit. For SM, it's used in regards Jerramy Stevens and retrosepctively, to Neil O'Donnell. I thought Dids would want to see that.
BTW, you guys absolutely HAVE to see this mock-up of ESPN.com from a few months back. The best part is that they actually put some hilarious faux-articles together, including a Skip Bayless piece titled "I Think the Exact Opposite of You About Sports," and a send-up of the Sports Guy that I think uses 80% of his predictable, beaten-into-the-ground jokes. Seriously. Funny. (HT: Deadspin.)