So What's The Deal With That Tacklin' SEC Ref?The most frequently submitted tip over the last 48 hours or so is the YouTube clip of that lunatic umpire who lowered the boom on South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia as he tried to run for a touchdown against LSU. For a good while, I didn't even believe it was real. It had to be one of those fake commercials for some kind of energy bar or light beer, right? Plus, even though every blog on the planet had the footage, there didn't seem to be any mention of it in your "normal" media outlets—not even the AP game recap thought it was worth mentioning. Yet, it did happen and anyone who has seen the video has to be asking, "What the ...?" The umpire in question is Wilbur Hackett Jr. and even though every sane observer says it looked intentional when he stepped up, dropped his shoulder, and laid out the scrambling quarterback, the folks in charge (including USC coach Steve Spurrier) say it's no big whoop.
But the SEC office believes Hackett was protecting himself and plans to take no disciplinary action on the veteran official. Rogers Redding, the conference's coordinator of football officials, reviewed the tape of the play and thought it was inadvertent contact. "Garcia changes his direction just a tad, which ties up the umpire just a tad and makes it look a lot worse than it really was," SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said.
So just a harmless "inadvertent" collision, right? Until you learn that Hackett just so happens to be a former Parade High School All-American and a three-year starter at linebacker for Kentucky in the late '60s. So unless Hackett had some sort of acid flashback to his playing days (or the patrons of a rogue BW-3 franchise called in a hit on Gracia so they could keep eating mini-corn dogs), I still say something fishy is going here. Maybe Garcia said something foul about Zinedene Zidane's sister? Foul or fair? Ref takes heat for hit on Garcia [Go Gamecocks]