It’s Official: Salute to sound bowl officiating

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

Whew! Another football season has whizzed past and with it (after Sunday night) 28 bowl games. After so many, they all seem to run together, don’t they?

That many bowl games obviously means that half of the Division I-A teams in the country were invited to a bowl game.

Since all that was required was to have six wins, I don’t see how anybody was left out. Though after watching a few of those teams like Tulsa and New Mexico State, several should have been skipped.

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From an officiating standpoint, the SEC crews were apparently unbiased and for the most part kept their flags in their pockets.

The Continental Tire Bowl found winner Virginia flagged five times for 60 yards and loser Pittsburgh once for only 5 yards by the SEC crew.

The SEC guys working the Sun Bowl penalized winner Minnesota only three times for 19 yards and losing team Oregon five times for 40 yards. Gator Bowl winner Maryland (six penalties for 45 yards) and West Virginia (six penalties for 40 yards) were virtually even.

The totals for the three games officiated by SEC crews were well below the average for the other bowl games this season.

A couple of the bowl games, including the Rose Bowl with USC and Michigan, appeared to be very well officiated.

I do not know which neutral conference supplied the officials for that game, but the officials did an outstanding job.

There were no personal fouls called, and nothing close to a fight happened. There were only a total of five penalties enforced in the game for only 32 yards.

That type of game is any official’s dream &045; to officiate such a major game and to know you weren’t noticed by either team.

I’ve got to say a few words about many of the officials from these bowl games. There is no requirement that a college football official has to be an athlete.

Some of the best I have known never participated in any competitive sport, but I have always felt that an official should at least look athletic.

There was a photo after the USM bowl game which showed Coach Jeff Bower arguing with an official. The official was butterball fat and could not have been in the proper physical condition to work a junior high game, much less a major college football bowl game.

Conditioning is such an important requirement for officiating that it ranks right alongside rules knowledge, mechanics and judgement in the qualities required for proper officiating.

A lot of the officials I noticed appeared to be in over their heads. There were a number of chicken calls &045; those which might be technically correct but have no business being called. Common sense matters, too.

With all due respect to Cathedral’s Von Hutchins, if Coach David Cutcliffe had a couple of 6-4 cornerbacks with speed, matched with a pair of mean, fast and smart safeties, his Rebels might have been playing in New Orleans Sunday.

I’m going to finish this up before the championship game ends, so if anything strange regarding rules or officiating shows up, I’ll cover it next week. Until then, that’s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. He can be reached at AlanWard39157@