Rutgers Screwed by Referees at End of St. John’s Game (Video)

The screw job was in at the end of the Rutgers-St. John’s Big East tournament game Wednesday afternoon in Madison Square Garden. That video via Mock Session shows how awful the officiating was at the end of the game. Not only did the player step out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left, but he threw the ball into the stands and should have received a technical foul like the Louisville cheerleader.

Rutgers should have had two free throws and the ball at midcourt, giving them a strong chance at tying the game or even taking the lead. For those curious about the fix, St. John’s was favored by 10 points so Rutgers had already covered. But the over-under of 129.5 that was bet down to 127 was in question. Did the refs have the under, or were they told to make sure St. John’s advanced? Had to be either one, or both, because those refs were running off the court faster than these players attacked by flares in a Greek game.

Kansas State WR Adrian Hilburn Flagged for Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Video)

We’ve seen a lot of bad calls throughout our lives as sports fans, and this certainly is up there. You don’t even have to be a Kansas State supporter to realize that the Wildcats were hosed at the end of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

In what turned out to be a highly entertaining bowl game with the teams trading scores, Kansas State scored with 1:24 left to get within two of Syracuse. Carson Coffman hit receiver Adrian Hilburn on a quick hook, and Hilburn broke a tackle turning the pass into a 30-yard touchdown. After scoring the TD, Hilburn did a salute to the crowd and then was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty pushed Kansas State back to the 18 in their two-point conversion attempt and their pass fell incomplete. Here is the Kansas State Adrian Hilburn penalty video if you haven’t seen it:

That wasn’t anything close to excessive, and it hardly was an example of a player drawing attention to himself. That certainly was a situation where I wish the referee just let it go. It was too good of a game for a key play at the end to be ruined by an official’s poor judgment.

Challenge Flags: Best Recent Idea in NFL

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Our sponsor, Captain Morgan, assigned LBS with a difficult question: what was the best sports idea we could think of recently? Well after watching the way the Chargers-49ers game changed last night because of one key coaching decision, it’s pretty clear to me that allowing NFL coaches the ability to challenge rulings on the field was the best recent idea in the NFL.

How many times have we seen games change because of bad calls? Remember this one? Or how about this one? Or how about Ed Hochuli’s awful call against the Chargers? Games in the NFL are played at such a fast speed it’s hard for referees to make all the calls accurately in real time. Though for the most part they do a good job, they can’t get everything right. Challenges allow the refs to take a closer look at plays to evaluate their decisions and it allows for an opportunity for justice.

In Thursday night’s game, Chargers coach Norv Turner challenged a ruling on the field of an Alex Smith touchdown run early in the game. After further review, the refs found that Smith’s knee was down before the ball broke the plane of the end zone. The 49ers were then stuffed on a 4th down running play and wound up with no points. They remained shut out until the 4th quarter while the Chargers routed them.

Who knows how much the game would have changed had the teams been tied? Football is all about momentum, and thanks to the challenge flag the right call was made and momentum shifted to San Diego, rightfully so.

The other aspect of the challenge rule I like is how “indisputable evidence” needs to be present to overturn a call on the field. This sets a high standard to overturn a call, as things should be. The only aspect of the challenge rule I would like to change is erasing the cap on how many challenges can be used in a given game. If a coach is successful on all his challenges, a limit should not be set on how many challenges he can make.

Challenge flags was an excellent rule change in the NFL because it allows for us to review the calls of referees. Though refs do a great job, they make mistakes like everybody else, and this helps us avoid critical errors that can determine the outcome in games. Now the only key is to make sure the people working the replay booth aren’t biased.

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Lions Robbed of Win in Controversial Call

Some people were predicting a breakout season for the Detroit Lions this year and maybe even a playoff appearance. I was expecting a turnaround for the Lions too, and getting a road win over the Bears in week one would have been an excellent start to the season. If only a bad rule did not get in the way.

With 31 seconds left and his team down 19-14, backup quarterback Shaun Hill threw into the end zone for receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson skied for the grab, landed on the ground with his butt and knee hitting the turf in what appeared to be the game-winning catch. After having control of the ball, Johnson went to put the ball on the turf and lost control. It was this part of the catch that was controversial and the referees overturned the touchdown call, waving off the play. The Lions threw two more incompletions and lost 19-14.

So what was the official rule that got in the way? From DetroitLions.com, “The ruling is that in order for the catch to be completed he has got to maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch.” If 9 out of 10 non-Bears fans would tell you that’s a catch, then it should be a catch. Sometimes we get too technical with our rules and that is a classic example. Sucks for Detroit because they should be 1-0.

Here’s the Calvin Johnson touchdown video that was overturned:

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NBA Refs Have A Long Way to Go

It isn’t easy to be an NBA official in the aftermath of the Tim Donaghy era.  Whether you’re an honest, hard-working ref who gives his all every night or not, your judgment and morals are guaranteed to be questioned by fans, players, and coaches night-in and night-out.  A lot of times they don’t deserve it.  Other times they do.  Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference Finals game between the Celtics and Magic happened to be a perfect example of poor officiating and overreaction affecting the outcome of an extremely important basketball game.

The NBA has designed its rules in a way that allows the league to cover up the blunders of its officials when necessary.  Flagrant and technical fouls can be reviewed after a game to determine if they should be upgraded, rescinded, or stand as called.  If the league was not designed in such a way, the Boston Celtics would be without arguably their best low-post defender in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.  After being whistled for a foul in Wednesday Night’s Game 6, Kendrick Perkins stormed away from official Eddie Rush in anger, but Rush hit him with his second technical of the game anyways.  A look at the picture above shows that Rush was just waiting for a reason to hit Perk with the “T”, rather than walking away himself.  The second technical was Perkins’ seventh of the postseason — which would normally result in a one-game suspension — but the league got it right when they rescinded the technical, clearing Perk for Game 6.

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SEC Officials Miss Call on LSU Interception by Patrick Peterson

Several SEC games have been marred by poor calls from the officials. To me, the worst case was in the Florida/Arkansas game, where the conference admitted they screwed up the calls that went against the Hogs to help the Gators. The storyline that has been prevalent throughout the season continues to take center stage as it did on Saturday in the LSU/Bama game. With Alabama up 21-15 in the 4th quarter, Greg McElroy threw a pass that appeared to have been picked off by Patrick Peterson on the sidelines. The referees reviewed the play but decided he was out of bounds. Here’s a replay of the Patrick Peterson interception video that was screwed up by the refs:

Andy Staples at SI took a picture on the sidelines which shows Peterson got his foot (both actually) in on the play. The argument I will buy is that Peterson didn’t have possession of the football until he was out of bounds. Thing is, when you slow it down on replay you can see he had control and got his feet in. Missing it live is completely understandable. How they missed it after reviewing the play leaves me scratching my head.

Refs Admit Screwup on Excessive Celebration Call that Hurt Georgia

The Georgia/LSU game on Saturday featured one of the stranger endings of the season. After struggling to score for three quarters, Georgia scored a TD at the beginning of the 4th to make it 7-6. The teams played 57 minutes with only 13 combined points scored, and then they traded touchdowns three times in the final three minutes for a 20-13 LSU win. Georgia actually responded to an LSU touchdown run from Charles Scott with 2:58 left in the game with a touchdown of their own. Georgia scored on a pass from Joe Cox to A.J. Green to make it 13-12 with 1:09 left. At that point Georgia felt pretty good about things but then a spiral of negative events took place. First, they were penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration, forcing them to kick off from the 15. Then they gave up a 40 yard return on the kickoff and two plays later, Charles Scott ran in another TD — the game-winner. Not that we’re going to blame this one on the refs, but the excessive celebration penalty didn’t help them. Here’s the video of the play from Dr. Saturday, and after the video you can read what the SEC officials supervisor is saying.

The SEC has admitted it was the wrong call:

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