Until last night, referee Karl Hess wasn't much different than most college basketball officials: out of shape, years past his prime, and generally bad at his job. He was probably best known, in fact, for his bizarre and laughable decision to eject former NC State stars Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from their courtside seats in last February's NC State-Florida State game, after Corchiani and Gugliotta were giving Hess some standard-issue ribbing when Hess blew a couple of calls.
That changed during last night's Marquette-UConn game, however, when Hess cemented his position in the Higginsphere -- that exclusive club limited to the most woefully inept, self-important boobs who officiate college basketball games -- during the opening sequence of overtime.
Hess's crew was whistle-happy all game, of course, and missed a number of calls against both squads -- an absurd blocking call on Junior Cadougan when Ryan Boatright was racing out of control down court and threw his forearm into Cadougan's neck, and a foul called on DeAndre Daniels after a totally clean block on Derrick Wilson's fastbreak layup attempt immediately spring to mind -- but this isn't about incorrect interpretation of the rules. This is about the cardinal (and unforgivable) sin in officiating: not knowing the rules in the first place.
With the game knotted at 69 at the start of overtime, Hess's crew inexplicably and inexcusably had Marquette and UConn lined up in the wrong direction, with UConn facing Marquette's goal and Marquette facing UConn's. UConn won the tip and ran a brilliant backdoor play that led to a goaltend by Jamil Wilson ... on his own basket.
Only then realizing their mistake, Hess and Co. huddled up to try to figure out what to do. It was immediately apparent that the error was Hess's: he had lined up the players, after all, and it took him a good two minutes to figure out they were pointed at the wrong goals at the tip. And yet, for some reason, UConn was punished for Hess's gaffe, as the officials took away the points awarded on the goaltend and gave Marquette the ball under its own basket.
Even without consulting the rule book, it was readily apparent this was the wrong call; it wasn't like Marquette's players were standing around flat-footed because they realized they were facing the wrong way and UConn took advantage. And as Rob Dauster was first to note after the game, the rule book confirmed that suspicion ...
From Rule 5, Section 1, Article 3:
"When the official(s) permits a team to go in the wrong direction, and when the error is discovered all activity and time consumed shall count as though each team had gone in the proper direction. Play shall be resumed with each team going in the proper direction."
... and the Big East commissioner of officiating did the same:
Big East coordinator of officiating Art Hyland confirmed referees erred nullifying the two points UConn scored to start OT at Marquette.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) January 2, 2013
Hess copped to the screw-up, too, but in so doing offered the most curious interpretation of the word "everything" I've ever seen, telling reporters that the crew "did everything right," except, of course, for crediting UConn with two points on Wilson's goaltend. This is akin to saying that you "did everything right" for Christmas dinner, except you forgot to thaw the turkey and people were forced to eat pretzels for the entire meal.
Fire this moron.