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NCAA Basketball: Memorial Magic Temporarily Blinds Tim Higgins

By now, most of you have heard about the terrible call by SEC official Tim Higgins in last night's game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Vanderbilt Commodores.  If you haven't, you can check it out over at Sports By Brooks, who has the video.

Let's get this straight.  Tim Higgins blew a call, and it might have affected the outcome of the game.  This, however, isn't just wrong, it's profoundly wrong (from the SbB article):

I recognize the repercussion of outing an official for what is a bad call, especially considering that it may have some bearing on where Alabama lands in the postseason. But Higgins, who isn’t exactly shy about positive media attention, is a professional and knows that comes with the territory. And there’s no denying he went out of his way to make an incorrect call that unquestionably determined the final outcome of the game.

First of all, blowing a call like that does not justify this sort of hyperbole.  Even if the call had not been made, 'Bama would have only been tied, not ahead.  Also, there was over six seconds remaining on the clock and the Commodores had possession, and Vandy might well have won either in regulation or overtime.  So while the call may have affected the outcome, it is not a certainty as Brooks claims.

SbB's complaint here appears to be the media's reluctance to mention officials by name in cases where there is controversy. I know for a fact that the UK media has more than once named an official in a controversial call, so I suppose his gripe is with the Birmingham News in particular.  Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger certainly wasn't reluctant to mention Higgins.  Higgins blew the call. Kentucky fans have faced blown calls more than once.  It is wrong, and a shame, but people make mistakes.

Remember Rick Stansbury's complaint at the end of the SEC tournament final last year?  That was a lot more complicated, and Stansbury was unacceptably whiny, but he did have a case.  Anthony Grant has a case in this one.  It happens to us all.  It shouldn't, it isn't fair, but it is a fact of life.  The big difference is, Anthony Grant has more class in his little finger than some other coaches I know (I'm looking at you, Stansbury) have in their whole bodies.

I do feel for the Alabama fans and team.  Nobody likes to have to deal with a call like this, especially when it happens right in front of a guy who's supposed to be trained to do the right thing.  These kinds of egregious errors harm the sport, but unfortunately, human fallibility is something like death and taxes -- inevitable.

For the 'Cats, at least we don't have to face an angry Vanderbilt team, but I'm sorry it happened like this.