Mum’s the Word With The Commish – From the Bird’s Nest
So, I'm watching the Coastal Carolina-Georgia Southern game on Saturday. The game is being played in pretty lousy weather. And, that usually means a close game.
And it was.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Georgia Southern led 10-7. At the end of the quarter, both teams, as is standard procedure, raised four fingers. The loudspeakers played "Mo Bamba." The players from both teams looked at each other and danced.
The officials, evidently, saw it as a potential brawl.
They threw penalty flags on both teams and charged every single player with unsportsmanlike conduct.
We have been unable to discern whether any of the officials were Baptist preachers. We know how dancing is frowned upon.
Personally, I thought it was overkill. There was no danger there. And, while I agree that any potential for escalation needs to be addressed, the officials went a little overboard. A simple warning to both benches would have sufficed.
As a result of the roughly 160 penalties, three players were ejected, having drawn their second such penalty of the game. We will never know if those ejections had anything to do with the outcome, a Georgia Southern victory in 3OT.
But what if one of the players had been one of the quarterbacks. Or Wesley Kennedy or C. J. Marable?
So, I waited yesterday to see what the league would have to say about it. This would be the first test for new Commissioner Keith Gill as far as handling situations involving officials was concerned.
What we got was crickets.
I emailed media liaison Scottie Rodgers to see if anything was forthcoming. His response came across as a rather terse "the Commissioner will have no comment on this matter." I asked if this was going to be standard procedure. He responded, "Each situation is handled individually. I provided a response to the particular matter you asked about."
While I'm ok with Scottie's response to my follow up, I'll take a wait and see attitude. I'll feel better when the Commissioner has a comment in the future.
I've interviewed Keith Gill twice. Once over the phone and once in person. I find him to be a personable and likeable man. As with any new position, he's had a faux pas or two. During Sun Belt Media Days, he said the state of the Sun Belt was "strong," yet failed to acknowledge former Commissioner Karl Benson, who certainly helped the state of the league. I was disappointed by his lack of credit to his predecessor.
Benson, to the media, was a breath of fresh air. He was forthcoming, honest and transparent when it came to league matters. I don't know if Benson would have commented on what happened Saturday. But I'm guessing either he or Supervisor of Officials Steve Shaw would have been quoted, especially since the general consensus around the country to the officials' reaction was overwhelmingly negative.
During his remarks to the media in July, Gill said "we need to do a better job of telling our story."
Transparency is part of telling the story. Here's hoping he's willing to contribute to that in the future.