Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sympathy For The Devil?

Walsh sends over this link to an "all access" piece featuring your favorite morbidly obese leprechaun, Tim Higgins. Being the masochist that I am, I read the whole fuckin' thing.

Friends, my feelings on officials are well known. If you're new to the site (and, if you are, you must be
really bored at work, 'cuz this site shouldn't be any higher than 130 on your bookmarks bar), here's a post that serves as a primer. If you don't have time to read it, I'll sum up: I think officiating in college basketball is a joke, and Tim Higgins is at the top of my list of jokesters.

So when Dana O'Neil attempts to paint Tiny Tim in a positive light, I'm compelled to respond:

The brokenhearted Syracuse fan needed a place to vent his rage, and the man in zebra stripes provided the perfect target. ... [T]hey will remember one call: the intentional foul Higgins whistled on Kris Joseph with 18 seconds left and Syracuse down two.

In the minds of the 31,053, that play decided the game.

Let's be fair: that call
did decide the game, in the minds of everyone but Tim Higgins. Yes, 'Cuse missed a ton of shots, and, yes, they blew an 11-point lead at home, and, yes, their best player couldn't hit water from a boat, but none of that absolves the referee from doing his fucking job, especially on a play that happened right in front of him. But we'll get back to that in a minute.

The man at the center of the storm verbally shrugged.

"It's one call in a game, that's all," Higgins said.

You, sir, are a fucking twit. There is no other way to describe you -- besides "impressively gunted," of course.

Each official is an independent contractor, hired by various leagues to work games. Top-tier officials are well-compensated -- based on ability, they're paid anywhere from $700 to $1000 per game, plus travel and expenses. But for Higgins and many others, college officiating isn't a full-time gig.

Really? Not a full-time gig? Then why is it that every time I turn on ESPN, or CBS, or ESPN2, or ESPNU, or the Big 11 Network, or fucking Nat Geo, that ruddy-nosed shit-for-brains is on the TV? If this is merely a hobby, what, pray tell, does Mr. Higgins list on his resume as his
actual employment?

Higgins' real job is vice president of sales for Kamco Supply Co., a Brooklyn-based building materials company.

Take heart, kids! The economy is a bitch right now, and hard-workin' folk are getting laid off left and right, and it's likely that you'll have to move back in with your folks after graduation, but
still -- STILL -- there are jobs in this country where you barely have to show up for work and you still draw a salary and get a nice title like "vice president of sales." Note: it's likely that this "job" is merely a front for the Irish Mafia -- V.P. of sales for a building materials company? -- but it ain't all bad out there.

Seriously -- THE MAN OFFICIATES FOUR OR FIVE GAMES A WEEK. How can you possibly hold down a job when you are gone for
five months during the year?

(As an aside: I'd love to follow Tim Higgins for a day at his 'real job,' just to see if he's as grossly inept as a "vice president of sales" as he is as an official. Does he absentmindedly shred work orders? Does he come to work without pants on? Does he accidentally light his employees on fire during lunch hour? The world needs to know.)

And lest you think I'm making up the part where Higgins is working four or five games a week:

The latest criticism facing college referees is that they work too much, do too many games in too few nights and can't possibly be sharp. Had he not been snowed out of Chicago, Higgins would have officiated four games in five nights in two leagues in four states. On average, he says he'll do about 60 regular-season games.

Some other stats:
in terms of gross tonnage, during the course of a typical season, he will eat two full-grown steers; he will drink his weight in Jameson; his liver will double in size; and he will murder 361 dreams in cold blood.

Higgins has one word for the notion that officials' performance slips because they're overworked -- hooey.

"Hooey"? Well, fiddlesticks, Mr. Higgins, I guess you've got us there. That's a devastating argument.


I've seen you when you're working your third game in four nights. I've seen you struggling to drag your ass upcourt in the last two minutes of the game. I've seen your beet-red face gasping for air during a 20-second timeout. I've seen you trying to hoist your pants over your foop as you trudge across half court. (OK, that one has nothing to do with being tired. I just felt like taking a cheap shot.) I've seen you waddling behind a fast-break, hopelessly out of position and unable to catch up, and, most importantly, unable to see whether the defender got in position for a charge -- not that something like being out of position would stop you from making the call, of course. Mine eyes have seen the horror, Mr. Higgins, and they can't un-see it.

Point is: you can't argue against this. When you're working so many games in so short a time frame, at 63 years of age, YOU ARE TIRED. And when you're tired, you make mistakes. Mistakes like this one:

And then Higgins calls Joseph for the intentional foul with the game hanging in the balance. The Carrier Dome, Boeheim and Joseph erupt.

And with good reason. Walsh found me a link to the call -- zip to the 45 second mark and take in the carnage.

I ask you: what part of that foul is even arguably intentional? What distinguishes that play from the other fouls that occur in the last minute of every close game -- fouls that don't, of course, result in an intentional foul call? Most of all: how in the hell can you miss that call when you're standing three feet away from the action? What did you think you saw?

More than anything, that's what really roils Higgins and his colleagues: that people think they don't care and that they intentionally make calls to affect the game.

No, that's not what worries me. What worries me is the spectacular, undeniable incompetence that's on display every night. It's like saying: the malfunctions in the Toyota Camry don't bother me, it's the fact that Toyota executives don't care about me. Fuck that -- as I'm careening off the road, I care that my brakes don't work, not that some dude in Tokyo doesn't give a shit about me or my car.

OK, I've said enough. Tim, if you're reading: die in a fire. My love to the missus.


Devil's Threesome said...

My best Higgins memory is from the 2008 tournament in Anaheim. After MU's crushing loss to the Lopii, I was in a rather foul mood. Actually, I was despondent and snarling at any UCLA fans who tried to buy my ticket stub. Then, out waltzed Tim fucking Higgins to ref the UCLA-Texas A$M game. I did my best Colonel Klink and then made every UCLA fan aware of how much they will hate Tim Higgins in no short order. Mid-way through the first half, they were booing him. Then, the last play of the game happened. Guess who blew an obvious no-call?

PaulNoonan said...

NCAA officiating is almost certainly corrupt, and I don't think you need be a conspiracy theorist to believe that. Think about this, the NBA, which has tons of incentives to keep close tabs on it's officials, and the resources to actually do so, let the Donaghy thing go for a long time.

The NCAA (and conferences) has more independent officials. they don't have the mechanisms to provide oversight. They don't have the resources. It would be shocking if some NCAA officials were not rigging games.

I realize that the razor of Occam will almost always put incompetence first, but incentives are such that corruption almost certainly exists.

I don't even think it would be tough to prove. You could probably use a modified version of the baseball stat WPA and apply it to officiating to figure out who is making an above average number of high leverage calls.