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2/13/2023 12:05 pm  #1


I'll get to basketball in a moment but the water cooler topic of the morning (are there even water coolers anymore) is the James Bradbury hold on JuJu Smith-Schuster which allowed the Chiefs to drain the clock and subsequently win the Super Bowl on a late field goal.  I imagine that opinions about this might be colored based on either whether you had a rooting interest or a betting interest in the game's outcome.  Trying to stay as objective as possible, my thoughts are if it's a penalty in the first quarter, then it also needs to be a penalty with the game on the line.  I've heard reactions ranging from "you can call this on every play" (completely untrue and an irresponsible statement designed only to win an argument as far as I'm concerned) to "it's unfortunate that this was called when it was" (completely true.  The timing was extremely unfortunate given the subsequent consequences.)  The bottom line was that Bradbury himself acknowledged that he did hold on the play and was hoping to get away with it.  The irony of course is that the Eagles would have been far better off giving up a touchdown on that play in order to get the ball back with enough time on the clock to tie or even take the lead with another 2 point conversion.  That said, Bradbury should not at all be faulted.  Hard to expect a defender to have the presence of mind to give up a TD at that stage unless his coaching staff asked this of the defense which they did not.

That brings us to Saturday where I watched the GW loss.  I also watch a lot of Big 10 basketball, including a few games over the weekend.  It is difficult to comprehend how the officials can vary so widely in how games are officiated.  Big 10 officials are so much more prone to "let the players play" meaning that teams can not only get away with but should actually be encouraged to play in a physical manner.  Compared to football, my sense is that basketball officiating is subject to far more interpretation over what a foul is, and this can't be better illustrated than comparing A10 and B10 officiating.  In a typical A10 game (and we can hold up the St. Joe's loss as a typical example), a foul is called essentially whenever a defender  touches an offensive player.  Which player initiates the contact rarely enters into the equation.  Also, fouls are often called based on the appearance of what's supposed to happen as opposed to what actually happens.  Let's say a defender tries to steal the ball off of a trap.  Most of the time, the defender is going to commit a foul by slapping at the ball and hitting the wrist.  But, the defender on occasion will pick the ball clean and yet in the A10, even the clean picks will almost always be called fouls.  The refs are often guilty of anticipating what they think is about to happen and then make calls based on this anticipatory move, rather than see the play all the way through and either make a call or not accordingly.  It's a lazy form of officiating and perhaps explains why an A10 official is not a regular official in a higher conference (even though there is some overlap that exists.  Jamie Luckie recently called a GW game and he has called Final 4 games, as an example.)

None of this is meant to blame the officiating for Saturday's loss.  This was a very predictable result given the double OT win three days earlier, the minutes our starters are playing, and to have to travel and play a road game on top of this.  But, there's no question that the way in which the officials called the game factored into the result.  We literally had players looking to avoid further foul trouble let Hawk players score down low but if they did as much as touch a Hawk, they were whistled.  And by no means was this loss an exception to the rule.  It's really unfair to the players who I imagine must get frustrated if they feel they are not being enabled to play practically any defense.  We can make a case that the calls even out in the end (although this hurts teams with benches as thin as GW's) but that misses the point.  The point is that the officiating deserves to be better for everyone involved.  And that has to start with letting the guys play a bit more than what is presently permitted.  These refs should look at some Big 10 officials some time. 


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