Wednesday, October 22

SEC Ref Has “Impact” On Game

October 20, 2008, the University of South Carolina played LSU in an SEC conference game. 13TH ranked LSU visited Columbia, South Carolina for an SEC showdown. The tigers were clearly the favorites but did not expect what the Gamecocks threw at them. Nor did the Gamecocks expect what was to be thrown at them in the deciding stages of the game. The first half of the game was a hard fought well played game. What else would you expect from SEC football? The score in the third quarter, much to the surprise of the Tigers and gamblers everywhere, was 10-10. With South Carolina threatening to take the lead and having possession of the ball with a first and goal to go at the LSU 8 yard line, quarterback Stephen Garcia lined above center and took the snap. As he rolled left, Garcia saw an opening to run. It is at this point when SEC official Wilbur Hackett Jr. would not allow this to happen. Hackett, who was in position, shuffled over in the same direction as Garcia and lowered a shoulder into Garcia’s chest and then extended his forearm knocking him off balance (a hit that Lawrence Taylor himself would be proud of). This knocked Garcia back and allowed LSU safety Curtis Taylor to crush him for a loss. LSU won the game by 7. Whether or not the play decided the outcome of the game, or the point spread is irrelevant. Watch the video, and judge for yourself if this is an accident.

Coincidentally, Hackett played football in the SEC for the University of Kentucky. Perhaps he had a flashback to his playing days. Either way the man knew how to throw a block and doesn’t seem to have lost a step. The SEC is utilizing the effective “sweep it under the rug” technique, and has dismissed any further investigations regarding Hackett’s unusual refereeing style. It was declared by officials that the hit was inadvertent. Hackett himself stated that the shoulder block to the South Carolina quarterback was done in the interest of his protection. Now which one is it? Here’s a safety tip if the situation ever presents itself again, Wilbur…GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY!

I love the conference’s competitive, hard nosed style of play, but their management of this issue has been laughable. For a conference I consider to be the most legit, and competitive in NCAA sports, my thoughts are this…handle the issue. It appears worse that you are doing nothing about it. The only other alternative will be to force the referees to wear pads so the players aren’t the ones being injured. I guess Garcia is just lucky Hackett wasn’t a kicker.

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