Pitt’s Narduzzi gets hit with a $5,000 fine for his extended anti-referee rant after the Pitt loss on Thursday. There is a part of every Hokie fan that just wants to strut around and gloat about this, but given Jimbo Fisher’s relatively massive $20k hit for a slightly more extended and emphatic version of anti-officiating rant, maybe it’s about time to take a look at the issue, especially since we were involved in one of those contests and are the team being accused of benefitting by alleged bad calls.
First, before we start, in the spirit of openness and honesty about the issue, many of us Hokie fans have complained vociferously about ACC officiating. Tech has seemingly been on the short end of that particular stick for a decade. The first we all heard about it was the detailed report filed by Frank Beamer’s staff in 2009 in regard to repeated chop blocking performed by Georgia Tech’s offensive line.
Frankly on that issue, Paul Johnson’s remarks soured any respect that I might have ever had for him. An honorable action would have been to keep his mouth shut and move on, but that’s another can of bovine scatology altogether.
The fact is that Tech submitted the usual film and paperwork through the usual channels and no one called into question the actions of any of the officials in the game. It’s also one of those anecdotal sorts of “feelings” based things that for the remainder of the season Tech was treated to some ”extra” officiating attention. Nothing there will prove it, and nothing there is worth proving in particular. Feelings and emotions on all parties were eventually put aside; and the world moved on.
Now we are being treated to some straight up monetary retaliation for operating outside of the “appropriate channels” to demonstrate displeasure with disadvantageous or inconsistent zebra activity on Game Day. I did not see the Fisher rant, but I did watch, and do have on DVR, the Tech football game.
What I can say for certain is that I will believe my lying eyes before I’ll believe Pat Narduzzi. If he had complaints there are official channels to offer his critiques and film evidence. It wouldn’t change the outcome of the game; that number is in the books, but it could help to educate the ACC officiating organization on the performance of its crews.
In watching the Pittsburgh sidelines the NCAA Thursday night football audience was treated to antics that were far outside of the boundaries of coaching, and honestly I do not know how he wasn’t flagged at least twice for Unsportsmanlike Conduct from the bench. More than a few times he was running out on to the field while no timeouts were in effect. He openly tossed his head set at least once and ripped it off to fling it around more than a few times. I am sure the Side Judge and Head Linesman were both hearing some words on George Carlin’s list of bon mots not acceptable for broadcast. There were no flags thrown. So Narduzzi might be reminded that he was exceedingly lucky that he didn’t cost his team dearly for the tirades and antics.
Fisher’s paycheck took a bigger hit, but Fisher’s paycheck and Narduzzi’s are probably just a tad different. Either way you have to wonder where all of this is going to go, and how much will really get fixed.
Fixed, how? Well there are four really annoying things that happened during the game on Thursday night that really need to be fixed, and fixed fast.
1. Official Reviews. We won and lost those, and one loss was a particularly annoying and very damaging call of an incomplete pass dropped on the sideline before the receiver went out of bounds, but the receiver never lost control, and never dropped the ball. (I think that it was Ford). The ball merely shifted from two hands to one while he his knee and duff were settling out on the ground. He always had control and never really was in danger of dropping it. There was no reason to overturn the call on the field because the call on the field was never in doubt. It took time, and worked in favor of Pitt because it put Tech behind the sticks by taking away a first down. Pitt scored on the stalled drive. There seems to be no consistency in how or when a play is reviewed, and certainly in what standard is applied when. On this play and situation there is evidence to overturn, but on that similar play there isn’t. Either use replay or don’t. One rule that could help is to remove the concept of slow motion and make replays rely on real time full speed extra views. If you can’t see it in real time you can’t overturn the call.
2. Holding needs to be completely revisited as both a penalty and over what constitutes holding on both sides of the ball. When the Offensive linemen’s hands were allowed to be extended, the traditional view of the holding penalty had to be adjusted, and it really wasn’t. Yes, they shaved off 5 yards for holding in the pocket, but added 5 to holding on a running play. Calling holding on a running play is ridiculous on its face anyway. If it’s bad enough to call then go back to the 5 yard penalty walk off or loss of down. Either call holding on a passing play or don’t , I am still flummoxed as to how an offensive lineman with a bar arm across a defenders throat isn’t holding; but some DT trips over his own feet and falls while engaged in a hot cha-cha with an Offensive Guard gets a flag. Defensive holding down field for five yards is fine, but an automatic first down? Oh for crying out loud! Walk off the five, if it’s a first down it is, if it isn’t it isn’t. Or make it and PI spot fouls.
3. Speaking of Pass Interference. Dear Pat, if your guys are going to hang on ours, pull on jerseys and grab arms while the ball is in the air, and the refs aren’t calling it, don’t get all crazy and wounded when they don’t call our guys for trying to get enough separation to make the catch. It goes both ways dude. Live with it! You left your inexperienced corners out on man coverage against three beast receivers who can beat most of the defenders in NCAA football, one on one. What did you think was going to happen?
4. There is one thing that needs to be mentioned, though. The Referees were not at all consistent about what they would call or wouldn’t. That sort of functional activity on the playing field means that the Refs have a material impact on the game, not the play on the field. Referees are supposed to enforce the rules to the best of their ability, evenly and consistently. On that score, the Pittsburgh – Virginia Tech game stands out as a particularly bad example of officiating consistency and the Conference office needs to spend time addressing it.
Overall, whining and complaining about officials and officiating should be left up to the fans. Coaches and players are better off just dealing with their official channels. And really, until some coach gets up the gumption enough to pull his team off the field in a particularly badly called game, on national or regional television, nothing much will be done.
There was more than enough evidence on the field that the officiating calls weighted more in the direction of Pitt than Tech, but I have neither the staff nor the time to weed through each play and pick out the obvious “no calls” and the “bad calls” to go with them. My guess is that we could do it for each game and come up with some sort of set of numbers to justify, what exactly?
Right, the rules are complex and difficult, making them more so will only make them even more difficult to sort out. The old “been through too much” guy in me just wants to say “Okay! Life is rough! Get your gear! Saddle up and let’s go!”
We have Duke on Saturday. That’s the season, and that’s the win we need to concentrate on getting.
One Game. One Team. Right Now!