Game review, 2014: Wofford

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

“Notes” section, The Post and Courier

Box score

Oh, well. What can you do? Aaron Miller appeared to score the game-winning touchdown for The Citadel, only for the SoCon officials to rule he didn’t score, and thus handing the victory* to Wofford.

You could see the end-play debacle by the men in stripes coming, as they seemed unprepared for the Bulldogs’ last-minute push for a TD. The players and coaches on both teams did a good job of handling the time management issues associated with end-game drives, but the officials seemed confused (if not outright chaotic) in their movements.

This was best exemplified by the bizarre “double spike” sequence on first-and-goal, in which Aaron Miller had to repeat spiking the ball on first down because the ball was deemed not ready for play, even though it had been put in play by the umpire. That’s because the clock didn’t start.

I had never seen that happen before, and I doubt anyone else had either.

On the final play, the officials hesitated, then apparently decided “well, he probably scored but let’s just give the game to the home team and get out of here.” Then they quickly ran off the field (no significant discussion necessary), looking a lot like characters from a Mack Sennett movie.

The ruling was very hard to swallow for anyone who supports The Citadel. I can’t imagine how the players and coaches feel (especially as it’s already the second time this season the Bulldogs have lost a game in which poor SoCon officiating played a major role).

It was arguably not as bad as the 2008 Elon game, which featured multiple ludicrous late-game officiating decisions, but that’s small consolation.

The call served as yet another reminder that at least in recent years, the conference has not treated The Citadel very well in a wide variety of areas. One that I’ve written about before, of course, is the fact that no one associated with The Citadel is in the SoCon Hall of Fame, despite the military college being a member of the league since 1936.

When there is controversy over the officiating like there was in Spartanburg on Saturday, what makes the Hall of Fame snub even worse is the knowledge that the league changed its rules for eligibility in order to elect two basketball officiating supervisors to the Hall.

The league is essentially saying that no one from The Citadel is good enough for its Hall of Fame, but those in charge of the league’s oft-maligned officials are more than good enough.

Perhaps the SoCon could have taken the money it allocated for its Hall of Fame and used it to help fix its longstanding officiating problems. Then again, the conference sometimes struggles with long-term decisions, as demonstrated by how it has gradually run the league baseball tournament into the ground.

Ultimately, The Citadel has to win games like this by two or three scores, to ensure the officials can’t play as large a role in the outcome. It’s a tough thing to say, but it’s true.

To have won the game by multiple scores on Saturday, the Bulldogs needed to be a little better in certain areas:

– Wofford converted all four of its fourth-down tries. That made up for the Terriers only going 4-12 on third down. The Bulldogs needed to force a defensive stop on a couple of those fourth down plays, particularly on the long drive in the second quarter.

– The Citadel only averaged 3.7 yards per rush. The longest run from scrimmage for the Bulldogs was 15 yards. Conversely, Wofford had five rushing plays that went for more than 15 yards.

– I wasn’t completely sure about Mike Houston’s decision to eschew a 43-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive in favor of going for it on 4th-and-16 from the Wofford 26. It is possible that 43 yards was on the fringe of Eric Goins’ range, and the wind was against the Bulldogs at the time.

It’s just that 4th-and-16 is a very low-percentage offensive situation. I’ll defer to the coach, though, on whether or not is was still a higher percentage than a field goal attempt would have been.


– Well, I’m still alive despite how the game ended. I guess that counts as a positive.

– I thought the team played very hard on Saturday. There is no question that the effort was there. The result should have been there, too.

– I just want to note (and not for the first time) that Spike The Bulldog is a hard-working mascot. As an alumnus, I really appreciate this. I also want to give a shout-out to Spike The Bulldog’s press agent, Cadet Diefendorf, who is never far from Spike’s side.

– It was also good to see General II and Boo X at the game. I wish that for future road trips (or at least relatively short ones), the same can be said for the cheerleaders, and perhaps a small pep band.

– As usual, a lot of alums and other supporters of The Citadel were in attendance. No school in the league has fans who “travel” better.

– Jim Senter’s tie received rave reviews.

Now, The Citadel’s new director of athletics needs to have a long conversation with SoCon commissioner John Iamarino, who was also at the game on Saturday. As usual, Iamarino’s hair was perfect, and his officials were not.

Senter may not know yet (though he’ll soon find out) that basketball officiating in the Southern Conference is even more ridiculed by veteran league observers. The AD should let Iamarino know that the conference really needs to get its act together on all fronts.

This may be unfair or unwarranted, but there is a definite sense among many loyal supporters of The Citadel that the conference takes the military college for granted. The commissioner might want to do something about that.

This week’s crop of mediocre-to-bad photos ends about midway through the fourth quarter, due to battery issues.