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As Usual Ref Taking Too Much Heat For Questionable Call

Tim Higgins appeared to have screwed up a key call in the closing seconds of last night’s Alabama-Vanderbilt game.  With the Commodores leading by two with fewer than 10 seconds to play, Alabama’s JaMychal Green drove the baseline under Vandy’s basket.  There was contact between Green and VU’s Festus Ezeli.  Higgins blew his whistle, but not to call a foul.  Instead he ruled that Green had stepped on the baseline.

Replays suggest Green did not actually step on the baseline.  Therefore, Higgins cost Bama the game, right?

Wrong.

First, watch the video and you’ll probably agree that Green’s foot most likely did not touch the baseline (even though the line is partially obscured by Anthony Grant).



Bad call, it seems.  But here’s what the popular site SportsByBrooks.com had to say about the incident:


“… there’s no denying (Higgins) went out of his way to make an incorrect call that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.”


Ridiculous.

First, Higgins appeared to be in proper position to make the call.  From his angle — which isn’t the same angle we see from ESPN’s cameras, mind you — the side of Green’s shoe might have appeared to have hit the baseline.  We don’t know.  We weren’t in the middle of Memorial Gym trying to watch Green’s foot and contact on the play all in a split-second. 

What we do know is that if an official is in proper position and staring directly at a play when he blows his whistle, it’s more than a little silly to suggest that ref “went out of his way to make an incorrect call.”  Out of his way?  He blew his whistle when he thought he saw a player three feet from him step out of bounds.  Higgins wasn’t making the call from the opposite baseline.  He was right on the play.  Closer than ESPN’s camera.

Second, did Higgins call really “unquestionably determine the final outcome of the game?”  Uh, hell and no.  Alabama turned the ball over 12 times.  They missed four free throws.  They missed 13 out of 15 three-point attempts.  The Tide had plenty of chances to take control of the game before the six-second mark.

In addition, who is to say that Green was going to hit two foul shots if he had been sent to the line on an Ezeli foul?  He is a 75% shooter.  But let’s say for argument’s sake that he would have nailed them both to tie the game with six seconds to play.  So Vanderbilt was guaranteed not to score?

And let’s also toss in all of the other questionable calls from the night.  I’ve yet to see a block/charge call that didn’t leave one team cheering and the other team screaming in anger.  College basketball officials have to make a lot of judgement calls in each and every game… and they’re called judgment calls for a reason.  There were plenty of other 50/50 calls in last night’s game that also impacted the final score.

No one at MrSEC.com is saying Higgins didn’t blow the call.  It appears to us that he did and he’ll have to answer to that when the SEC grades its officials.  But as usual, the “it cost us the game” nonsense is over-the-top.  Alabama lost last night.  Higgins’ call didn’t help their cause.  But the Tide had had 39 minutes and 54 seconds to go out of their own way to take matters out of Higgins’ hands.  They didn’t.  And that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.

 


20 comments
BamaNation
BamaNation

"The truth of the matter is, I cover the league and don't give a hoot who wins or loses. I'm a fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Columbus Blue Jackets." So John, you aren't a fan of the league, much less a particular team. Why bother covering it? From your choices of teams to support, you are obviously a carpetbagger and it explains a lot about who you are and why you write the things you do. You not only hate Alabama, but Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and basically everyone and everything in the South. You think we are a bunch of hayseeds with an IQ of 12. My advice to you is to take your bias and get the heck out of the SEC. Believe me, we ALL want you commenting on things in Baaaah-ston where you belong.

Blake
Blake

It will be horrifying if this game and the game at Arkansas, which was also horribly officiated in the final minutes, cost UA an NCAA bid.

Andrew
Andrew

Hey, first of all i love your site. Being an SEC fan its great to have someone as talented as y'all taking this seriously. But i did find a flaw in this story. I've been a referee for the past 6 years now ever since i was in college. I started cause i hated seeing my team (MSU) not get calls i thought should have been called. After learning the rule book for the high school and college level, I have gained a lot of respect for these guys. Mistakes do happen, and they happen more frequently than the refs can call them. Which is why I was taught don't blow the whistle unless your positive it happened. Reffing is not a guessing game, its a job you have to use yours for. Which brings me to my flaw in this story, from what i saw in the video this ref was not in good position at all. His body looked to be looking at the three point line and was turning when he called the call. THIS IS BAD, he is the baseline ref, he should be watching the paint and only the outskirts of the paint.

BamaNation
BamaNation

John, give it up and be the man your mother wanted you to be and simply admit to the fact that you hate Alabama.

g.g
g.g

There was a terrible call that went in Bama's favor in the first half that the announcers mentioned as being bad. In other words, yes there were bad calls, but I imagine that they were pretty evenly split for Bama and Vandy over the entire game. I agree with the opinion of the columnist. It was a terrific game by the way.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

David...

No one is saying the blown call didn't matter. We're saying that call was a factor in the outcome. But it was not THE lone (or even biggest) reason for the outcome.

John

Joel
Joel

Here is what I say about people and players being mad at refs. Refs WILL always make mistakes. That is and always will be a factor in the game. If you want your perfect game don't let the baseball player hit the ball and run to first, don't leave it up to the ump! If you feel you won the boxing match but when it goes to the score cards you don't, KO the guy..don't leave it up to the ref! Unless the guy is intentionally making bad calls, you gotta do your best to leave it out of the hands of the refs. Same thought line goes to being mad at kickers for missing kicks that could win the game.....don't leave it up to chance!

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

guest...

Not sure who you're arguing with. We said in the piece that we agree the call was incorrect. Our point, however, is that people can't blame Alabama's defeat on one incorrect call. They can be mad about the call and Higgins should have to answer for the call when he's graded by the SEC office... but this call was just one play in a game of hundreds. Claiming Higgins cost Alabama the game is childishly simplistic.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

BamaNation...

Your response reads like something a 10-year-old would write. I love the SEC as its got great football and -- usually -- good basketball. But my company also owns the rights to MrBigTen, MrPac12, MrACC, etc. We started with the SEC because I live in the South, have grown up watching the SEC, and the fans are so passionate.

"Carpetbagger." Love that nonsense. I've lived in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio. Three in the south, one in the north.

"You not only hate Alabama, but Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and basically everyone and everything in the South." Yes, my entire family and family history is southern. And I keep moving back to the south. Clearly I despise the region and all that it stands for. Glad you've got such insight to me. Heck, by learning I'm a Celtics fan you can even tell me what I think about people. Impressive.

By the way, what part of Alabama am I hating when I say that Nick Saban is the best coach in the league? Whenever I write that I get emails from 11 other fanbases calling me an Alabama fan. Or what about when I write about the SEC's dominance in football? My last piece explaining the SEC's run -- and why it's not going to change -- got me bombed by Big Ten fans. What part of the SEC was I hating then?

All this because I dared to say: Higgins blew a call... but it wasn't the reason Alabama lost the game.

I'd say "you must feel silly now," if I didn't think you were a fifth-grader whose already got his bottom lip up over his top lip ready to pout about this very response.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

BamaNation...

That's a theme I hear whenever I take a stance. This fall I was hit by Auburn fans who called me an Alabama fan. Then, when I kept saying that like it or not there's no evidence of Auburn paying Cam Newton, Alabama fans called me an Auburn fan.

The truth of the matter is, I cover the league and don't give a hoot who wins or loses. I'm a fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Columbus Blue Jackets. I don't love or hate any SEC team. I call things like I see 'em. Do a little research and you'll see that I point out how silly it is to blame a ref's call for a lost game.

John

Mike Pemberton
Mike Pemberton

John, from this died in the wool Tide fan, your article is spot on. Humans make mistakes. Officials are human. Therefore, they make mistakes. Way past time for everybody to move on to the next game, for us Ole Miss. Coach Grant handled it appropriately and, I am confident, has moved on.

Natan
Natan

Of course, one call NEVER is. A thousand other things always happen which set the stage for it. But that single call can make all the difference in the outcome.

It's as incorrect to minimize the effect as it is to exaggerate it.

David
David

No, you didn't say it didn't matter, and you did say it didn't help - but really bad calls late in close games get extra scrutiny. Yes, statistically, it matters no more than a bad call 6 seconds into the game or a poor entry pass 4 minutes before half-time,. However, when a guy in a striped shirt makes a bad call in a close game late, it matters more - because now there's no time to adjust to it. It's more decisive, and it's more frustrating. That's why people go ballistic, and it seems a bit silly to chastise them for it or whip out the "you should have shot better from the arc" defense.

Like I said, Higgins is a Big East official. He does 2 SEC games a year. In no way do I think he intentionally did anything with his calls last night, but it baffles me that a key SEC game had to use a borrowed official. Was someone sick?

thomas
thomas

the ref called something he did not see. How is that possible? The emotion of the game? The ref should be punished.

BamaNation
BamaNation

Feeling silly? Never, especially when sparring with a fool like you. Your opinions aren't worth a dime and always off kilter. You are nothing but a bag of hot air and clearly too immature to take a little heat for those opinions. You cry like a little girl each time anyone says something that you don't like. If you are getting your feelings hurt, don't post the idiotic opinions. If you just want to write things that stir up the fan base, man up and take the feedback that you long to hear but if arguing is all you want to do, stay home and argue with your ugly old lady, if you even have one. I doubt it.

bama13
bama13

John,

I bet you would have felt differently if your precious Celtics had been cheated out of a game because of a blown call at the end of a game. You Yankee writers are all the same. You want to live in the northeast and deal with the over crowding, high taxes, bad weather and rude ugly people. It does not make you smarter than southerners. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite. Just leave the SEC alone. We certainly never asked for your option.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

BamaNation...

If you can point out an instance where I've waffled, I'd like to see it. In this case, I made the same point here -- that one bad call shouldn't be blamed for an entire game's worth of plays being lost -- that I've made on this site a dozen times.

I was hammered by Tennessee fans in December for not blaming the refs for their Music City Bowl loss. Ditto Mississippi State fans last year over their SEC tourney final loss to Kentucky.

You're the one who insulted me, started calling me names, and claimed that I hate Alabama... all because I simply said, "Yes, Bama got a bad call, but it wasn't the only reason for the loss."

Not sure how I'm a jock sniffer, by the way. Seems you're the one who reads this "waffling" blog -- again, point out a waffle, please -- and gets SOOOOO upset when we don't blame the refs for your favorite team's loss.

As for me being a blithering idiot, I'll allow everyone to read my responses to you... and your comments to me... and then decide for themselves who the blithering idiot is.

As always, thanks for reading,
John

BamaNation
BamaNation

The point is that you are a blithering idiot that has no idea what he is doing. I don't care whether or not a ref's call affects the outcome of an Alabama basketball game it is just that jock sniffers, that change their opinions as often as the weather changes, are really annoying and you seem to be the king of annoying, waffling bloggers.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

BamaNation...

And thank you for making my point.

John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

bama13,

Actually, when my teams lose, I blame them for not overcoming the officials. My friends know that about me. Officials blow calls... they always will. But there are hundreds of plays in every game. One call doesn't win or lose games -- unless it's a fifth-down type of bungle.

Love your "you Yankee writers" comment, though. I've lived in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio. I keep moving back to the south. My family and friends are in the south. I can't hear "My Old Kentucky Home" without getting misty eyed. I love the south.

I also love Boston. And Charleston. And New Orleans. And Seattle. And Las Vegas.

I'm not an imbecile who gets mad about a basketball story and then rants against entire regions of the country and their people.

As for my "option," I assume you mean my "opinion." And actually, nobody asked you to read it. We post the views of 3 writers here. Don't like 'em, don't read 'em.

But if you do read them, try to read them as an adult would.

By the way, did you see my precious Celtics beat the Heat yesterday? Big win.

John



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