BLOX Chuck Landon.jpg

What has happened to officiating in America?

Pick a sport, any sport.

Officiating, in general, has gone off the rails.

And it’s much to my chagrin because officials always have been my pals. My dearest friend in life is a former big-time college basketball official.

That’s why this is a tough stance to take. But it’s necessary because officiating has become so troubling.

I remember when officials preferred to be unobtrusive and tried not to be high-profile. In those days, officials never wanted to make a call that would decide a game.

Those days are gone.

One of the worst offenders is the NFL. Imagine the New Orleans Saints losing in post-season play at home during two consecutive seasons because blatant pass interference penalties weren’t called.

It happened.

How about the play where Kansas City star quarterback Patrick Mahomes obviously stepped over the line of scrimmage before throwing a touchdown pass against Houston? It wasn’t even reviewed.

And, remember, this is the NFL — the heaviest reviewing sport in the world. Until the playoffs arrive, that is. Then, the reviews inexplicably stop.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The more important games become, the less the NFL is concerned about getting it right. Why? Because television networks don’t want the NFL to waste their precious air time on reviews when they could be showing commercials.

Sad, but true.

Officiating in college basketball also is going steadily downhill. Take Marshall University, for example. The Thundering Herd arguably has gotten “homered” three times during road games in the 2019-20 season.

The first time was at Toledo. During an 82-72 loss to the Rockets, Marshall was only 6-for-9 at the foul line while Toledo was 23-for-33. That’s a 17-point differential at the foul line in a 10-point loss.

Next, the “home cooking” at Northern Iowa was so obvious, the MU bench was hit with a technical foul with 18:21 remaining in the second half. Then, while the clock was stopped, Marshall head coach Danny D’Antoni also was nailed with a technical.

Only 5:16 later, D’Antoni was assessed a second technical and ejected.

Oh, by the way, UNI was 21-for-23 at the foul line during the second half, while Marshall was 6-for-10. There was a 12-point differential at the foul line in an eight-point MU loss.

But the worst, perhaps, occurred at UAB last Saturday. The Blazers shot 21 foul shots before Marshall took its first free throw. That free throw was with only 7:32 remaining.

UAB finished 20-for-31 at the foul line, while MU was 6-for-7. Worse still, Taevion Kinsey was the only MU player that shot a free throw. So, there was a 14-point differential at the foul line in a 11-point loss.

And get this, one of the officials doling out the fouls on Marshall at UAB was Davis Maxwell whose father, Gary, called two of the technical fouls on Marshall during the Northern Iowa game.

Meanwhile in Morgantown, a trio of fans showed up dressed as “Three Blind Mice” at the WVU-Texas Tech game in deference to coach Bob Huggins’ $10,000 fine.

It’s not going to get better, either, because officials simply aren’t held accountable anymore. As a result, they are becoming aloof, arrogant and condescending.

How sad.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at

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