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Coaches should be able to criticize bad calls

What is your

main takeaway

from

last weekend’s

officiating?

By Cory Giger

cgiger@altoonamirror.com

I have watched the video about 20 times, and laughed every time. It’s a halftime interview where ABC’s Holly Rowe asked James Franklin what explanation he got from the officials for ridiculously taking a down away from Penn State during a first-half series against Auburn.

Franklin just stares at her. For a full second. Saying nothing. Then shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s the explanation we needed,” replied Rowe, a savvy pro reading the moment perfectly.

Franklin said more by actually saying nothing, creating quite a comical moment. But here’s the thing: Franklin should be able to say something in that moment.

He should be able to question such a horrendous decision by the officials. He should be able to say it was a bad call. He should be able to say it was a big mistake.

It is ridiculous, in major college and professional sports, that coaches and players cannot publicly criticize officials without getting punished.

So we get this dumb little song and dance — over and over — where coaches have to beat around the bush instead of giving honest answers to simple questions.

I want to state clearly that I have tremendous respect for officials at all levels. They work hard, they do their best and they have thankless jobs.

I absolutely cannot stand coaching youth sports and hearing parents and coaches gripe and rip into officials. It’s disgusting.

I have a personal policy of not criticizing an official during a game. For any reason. I do not let my players criticize the officials. For any reason.

Officials do not win or lose the game 99.99 percent of the time. The players win or lose the game.

It might sound hypocritical of me, then, to say that I am totally in favor of college or professional coaches having the freedom to criticize officials publicly.

This isn’t youth sports I’m talking about now. The stakes are far too high at the college and pro levels, and we’re talking about officials who get paid good money to work games.

They have to be better. And if they stink, then they should be fair game to criticize.

Now, I’m not saying college or pro coaches and players should just rip into officials and call them all sorts of names — like parents often do at the high school level, which is absurd.

What I would like to see is a system where a coach can simply come flat out and say, “I don’t like the call. They got it wrong. It cost us in the game. The officials cannot make that kind of mistake.”

Keep it civil. But allow for honesty.

I am a journalist. I want to hear the truth from coaches and players. If we ask Franklin what he thought about a call, he should have the right to say he thought it was a bad call without getting fined or reprimanded.

If officials don’t like the criticism, tough. They have to be able to deal with it, or else find another job.

Cory Giger is a Penn State beat writer for DK Pittsburgh Sports and host of “Sports Central” weekday afternoons from 4-5 on WRTA. Contact him at cgsports12@aol.com.

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