In Memoriam: Sympathy for the Devil?

[Rubie sez: This post originally ran at Quevedo at the Buffet two years ago. With the announcement that Crotchety Tim Higgins is taking his talents to Del Boca Vista, I figured this was a fitting opportunity to run it again. Miss u, Tim.]

The Admiral sent over this link to an ESPN.com "all access" piece featuring your favorite morbidly obese leprechaun, Tim Higgins. Being the masochist that I am, I read the whole thing.

Friends, my feelings on officials are well known. If you're new to the site (and, if you are, you must be really bored at work, 'cuz this site shouldn't be any higher than 130 on your bookmarks bar), here's a post that serves as a primer. If you don't have time to read it, I'll sum up: I think officiating in college basketball is a joke, and Tim Higgins is at the top of my list of jokesters.

So when Dana O'Neil attempts to paint Not-So-Tiny Tim in a positive light, I'm compelled to respond, in poor facsimile of Fire Joe Morgan:

The brokenhearted Syracuse fan needed a place to vent his rage, and the man in zebra stripes provided the perfect target. ... [T]hey will remember one call: the intentional foul Higgins whistled on Kris Joseph with 18 seconds left and Syracuse down two.

In the minds of the 31,053, that play decided the game.

Let's be fair: that call did decide the game, in the minds of everyone but Tim Higgins. Yes, 'Cuse missed a ton of shots, and, yes, they blew an 11-point lead at home, and, yes, their best player couldn't hit water from a boat, but none of that absolves the referee from doing his f***ing job, especially on a play that happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM.

But we'll get back to that in a minute.

Hit the jump for more hijinks with Higgins.

The man at the center of the storm verbally shrugged.

"It's one call in a game, that's all," Higgins said.

You, sir, are a goddamned twit. There is no other way to describe you -- besides "impressively gunted," of course.

Each official is an independent contractor, hired by various leagues to work games. Top-tier officials are well-compensated -- based on ability, they're paid anywhere from $700 to $1000 per game, plus travel and expenses. But for Higgins and many others, college officiating isn't a full-time gig.

Really? Not a full-time gig? Then why is it that every time I turn on ESPN, or CBS, or ESPN2, or ESPNU, or the Big 11 Network, or f***ing Nat Geo, that ruddy-nosed shit-for-brains is on the TV? If this is merely a hobby, what, pray tell, does Mr. Higgins list on his resume as his actual employment?

Higgins' real job is vice president of sales for Kamco Supply Co., a Brooklyn-based building materials company.

Take heart, kids! The economy is a bitch right now, and hard-workin' folk are getting laid off left and right, and it's likely that you'll have to move back in with your folks after graduation, but still -- STILL -- there are jobs in this country where you barely have to show up for work and you still draw a salary and get a nice title like "vice president of sales." Note: it's likely that this "job" is merely a front for the Irish Mafia -- V.P. of sales for a building materials company? "Kamco"? Why not something less blatantly phony, like "I Insist We're Legitimate Industries"? -- but it ain't all bad out there.

Seriously: THE MAN OFFICIATES FOUR OR FIVE GAMES A WEEK. How can you possibly hold down a job when you are gone -- like, physically f***ing absent -- for five months during the year?

(As an aside: I'd love to follow Tim Higgins for a day at his 'real job,' just to see if he's as grossly inept as a "vice president of sales" as he is as an official. Does he absentmindedly shred work orders? Does he come to work without pants on? Does he have a couple fingers of scotch at lunch, then walk around burping into his own hand and smelling it for the rest of the day? Does he try to make toast in the toilet? The world needs to know.)

And lest you think I'm making up the part where Higgins is working four or five games a week:

The latest criticism facing college referees is that they work too much, do too many games in too few nights and can't possibly be sharp. Had he not been snowed out of Chicago, Higgins would have officiated four games in five nights in two leagues in four states. On average, he says he'll do about 60 regular-season games.

Some other stats: in terms of gross tonnage, during the course of a typical season, he will eat two full-grown steers; he will consume thrice his weight in Jameson; his liver will double in size; and he will murder 361 dreams in cold blood.

Higgins has one word for the notion that officials' performance slips because they're overworked -- hooey.

"Hooey"? Well, fiddlesticks, Mr. Higgins, sir, I guess you've got us there. That's a devastating argument. We're all full of poppycock, I guess.

Except:

I've seen you when you're working your third game in four nights. I've seen you struggling to drag your ass upcourt in the last two minutes of the game. I've seen your beet-red face gasping for air during a 20-second timeout. I've seen you trying to hoist your pants over your foop as you trudge across half court. (OK, that one has nothing to do with being tired. I just felt like taking a cheap shot.) I've seen you waddling behind a fast-break, hopelessly out of position and unable to catch up, and, most importantly, unable to see whether the defender got in position for a charge -- not that something like BEING OUT OF POSITION would stop you from making the call, of course.

Mine eyes have seen the horror, Mr. Higgins, and they can't un-see it.

Point is: you can't argue against this. When you're working so many games in so short a time frame, at 63 years of age, YOU ARE TIRED. And when you're tired, you make mistakes. Mistakes like this one:

And then Higgins calls Joseph for the intentional foul with the game hanging in the balance. The Carrier Dome, Boeheim and Joseph erupt.

And with good reason. The Admiral found me a link to the call -- zip to the 45 second mark and take in the carnage.

I ask you: what part of that foul is even ARGUABLY intentional? What distinguishes that play from the countless other fouls that occur in the last minute of every close game -- fouls that don't, of course, result in an intentional foul call? Most of all: how in the hell can you miss that call when you're standing THREE FORKING FEET away from the action? What did you think you saw, Tim?

More than anything, that's what really roils Higgins and his colleagues: that people think they don't care and that they intentionally make calls to affect the game.

No, that's not what worries me. What worries me is the spectacular, undeniable, and unchanging incompetence that's on display every night. It's like saying: the malfunctions in the Toyota Camry don't bother me, it's the fact that Toyota executives don't care about me. To hell with that -- as I'm careening off the road, I care that my brakes don't work, not that some dude in Tokyo doesn't give a shit about me or my car.

OK, I've said enough. Tim, if you're reading: die in a fire. My love to the missus.

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