It's easy for a couple of basement-dwelling losers to start a blog on any topic, no matter how obscure, and blog away with hundreds or even thousands of posts and opinions that are as evanescent in the mainstream media world as a spritz of Febreze on Rick Reilly's sport coat.
Thus, ITGOTT is able to dedicate an entire blog to the officiating of one guy - NCAA college basketball ref Tony Greene - and do a quasi-in-depth exploration of his work and whether its possible that he is "on the take" - ie. in the pocket of gamblers attempting to tip the gambling odds in their favor with the help of one official. Unthinkable years ago, this possibility goes from "totally absurd" to "absolutely possible" with the revelation that NBA official Tim Donaghy was doing just that - attempting to influence the outcome of NBA game point spreads by making (or ignoring) certain calls just to make some additional money from rogue gamblers.
Sure, our blog may be an absurd "shot in the dark", windmill chase whose windmill (Tony Greene "on the take") is totally unfounded and does not exist. Alternately, it may be the first look into a devastating, and in light of Tim Donaghy an all-too-realistic, scenario of crooked officiating that could bring down the game we love, college basketball. But looking into the work of Tony Greene, the officials he works with, and even other officials in other games, gets us no real, major publicity. The mainstream media is loathe to question the integrity, or even the ability, of officials.
Until this weekend, when respected Boulder (CO) sports columnist Neill Woelk absolutely eviscerated the officiating work of Duke Edsall, Brent Meaux, and Rick Randall (http://www.buffzone.com/ci_14210188) after their work in a Kansas State victory over Colorado in Boulder on Saturday.
When a member of the mainstream media dares to openly criticize - by name - officials working a Division 1 college basketball game, attention must be paid. Woelk is careful to point out that the officiating of this trio was NOT necessarily biased, just lousy. Further, Woelk explains that a potential great game in a packed house was ruined by a game that featured nearly 70 fouls called. No team was ever able to gain traction with regards to tempo, and as one might expect, the game was both won (Kansas State) and lost (Colorado) at the free throw line. Not only that, but the game lasted more than 2 1/2 hours, a disgrace in this age of 2-hour college basketball games.
Here's what ITGOTT finds interesting about this game. Duke Edsall, who based on anecdotal evidence from ITGOTT fans apparently received the majority of the crowd's ire, used to be a big-time ACC official. He worked nearly every ACC tournament and even worked the 2002 Final Four. A staple of ACC officiating, Duke Edsall was often seen working alongside Larry Rose and Reggie Cofer (both since retired) in major ACC games.
But then something happened. John Clougherty, a 30-yr official highly respected by everyone in the industry, retired after the 2005 season and became the Supervisor of Officials for the ACC. In the four years prior to Clougherty's take-over of ACC officiating, Duke Edsall (a Virginia native and brother of UConn head football coach Randy Edsall) worked an average of 19 ACC games per season. In the four complete seasons after John Clougherty's hiring as the supervisor of ACC officials, Duke Edsall has worked a TOTAL of 16 ACC games, all in the first two years of Clougherty's reign.
Why is this significant? Because of an interview John Clougherty gave to the Hampton (VA) Virginian-Pilot in March 2006, at the end of his first season as ACC Supervisor of Officials. (http://hamptonroads.com/2006/03/acc-official-supervisor-relatively-thankless-job). Virginian-Pilot columnist Ed Miller openly notes the diminished ACC officiating appearances of Duke Edsall, then quotes John Clougherty explaining this turnover with the statement, "After 30 years, I think I have a pretty good eve for talent, who can carry the load." The implication CLEARLY was that Clougherty felt that Duke Edsall either did not have the talent to officiate in the ACC, or could not "carry the load".
Statistics bear out Clougherty's assessment and subsequent marginalization of Duke Edsall in the ACC. Edsall only worked 9 ACC conference games in 2006, then just 7 in 2007, and not a single game since.
This apparently means that Duke Edsall's BOSS, ACC Supervisor of Officials John Clougherty, who assigns officials for ACC games, felt that Duke Edsall, simply, wasn't a good enough official to work ACC games. And like a major leaguer demoted to the minor leagues, Duke Edsall found work in subsequent years by increasing his workload in the mid-major Conference USA and Sun Belt conferences.
And, oh by the way, Duke Edsall also increased his work in the Big 12 conference, which is apparently assigning officiating work to guys who were ostensibly "fired" from the ACC. And as was to be expected, when you take someone else's cast-offs who couldn't "carry the load" in their previous job, you get results like Saturday's. A great game ruined by 70 calls. But when the lead official in the game washed out of the ACC, what did the Big 12 expect?