It's always a shame when poor officiating has an impact on a game. In the Southern Conference, that happens a lot.
On the one hand, it is a bit unfair to complain about SoCon officials. Oh, they are bad, for sure. But they are usually bad for both teams on a fairly equal basis. The hope is that their poor work will result in a balanced game and two very unhappy coaches. After all, two mad coaches equals a fair game, right?
Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena lived up to that--for the most part. Actually, it was far from the worst that SoCon officials have to offer. The Wofford-Furman matchup was a pretty even game, until a strange and inexplicable technical foul on Furman's Charlie Reddick with 15:56 to play in the game.
The "T" was added after Reddick was called for a foolish and unnecessary foul while going for an offensive rebound. That gave him his 3rd and 4th personals, and Paladin Coach Jeff Jackson had to put Reddick on the bench. When Reddick departed, so did Furman's lead.
The officials took a good five minutes to decide that Reddick and Wofford's Kevin Giltner would be called for a double technical. But no one could say what Reddick did. Everyone in the arena saw Kevin Giltner running around, cussing and yelling and threatening to start a fight. Why was Reddick in any way a part of the "T"?
After the game, Furman coach Jeff Jackson's feelings were clear without being directly critical. When a reporter mentioned the call, the look on his face said it all.
When asked what Reddick did, Jackson responded, "Charlie didn't do anything." When asked what the explanation was, Jackson said, "There was no explanation."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the nature of Southern Conference officiating.
Some upstate writers that I generally respect had a far different take on the game. No matter how it's colored, Furman suffered both the insult and the injury in the exchange. Giltner stomped around the floor like a 12-year old at recess, showing an maturity level far below his age and his basketball ability.
His reward for throwing a hissy fit? He got to stay in the game and put up 26 points.
No one is blaming the officials for Furman's loss. But it does beg the question: Why do officials, especially in the Southern Conference, feel the need to interfere and have an undue impact on the game? Do the fans not have the right to demand reasonably decent officiating?
It's not that the refs will ever be perfect, or that we should expect them to be. But when they take 5-10 minutes to make a decision, it should be the right one. And they should never have an unwarranted impact on a great basketball game. Calling a double technical that should have been a single certainly falls into that category.
Perhaps it's time for the referees in all SoCon sports to recognize their role. Their job is to help the teams put on a great show, not become the show itself. It's high time for the officials to get off the stage--and stay off.