College Hoops Zoo: Cage the Zebras

Zebras are reactionaries. – Paul Simon

If there’s a name in college hoops that’s been bandied about more this season than probable POY Anthony Davis, it’s Karl Hess.

He’s a ref.

He’s the reason Syracuse only has one loss because he failed to call an obvious goal tend at the end of the Orange’s game with West Virginia. He’s the guy with rabbit ears who teed up Rick Pitino, when the coach was yelling at Kyle Kuric. (Buy some Q-Tips, Karl. Clean out the wax.)

He’s the guy who tossed Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani at an NC State game last week.

There might be a reason for Hess’s short fuse and bad judgement.

He’s called 81 games in 20 states so far this season. He’s a Top Twenty T Caller this season with 22.

For comparison purposes, the most games any Top 25 school has played this season as of today is 30. Which means that Hess has been involved in almost 3 times as many games as Syracuse, Wichita State, UNLV or Creighton.

And Hess isn’t even the most overworked zebra in the land. Seven other officials have called as many or more games already, a list headed by ACC ref Brian Dorsey, who has called 86.

And we wonder why so many obvious calls are missed? Like the assault and battery committed by Kansas’ Thomas Robinson the other night against Missouri. It wasn’t called. The Jayhawks won in OT.

This, my fellow Hoopsylvanians, is a tragedy, an abomination, a degradation of the game we love so much.

In case you’re wondering, here are the numbers from some of the favorite local whipping boys. Ted Valentine has worked 80 tilts, Jim Burr, a relatively modest 57 though all seem to be national TV contests. The heretofore ubiquitous Tim Higgins 30 games called is downright modest and appropriate.

You can see the numbers for your favorite zebra at

Anyhow, add my name to the list of pundits calling for a national administrator and a reasonable game limit for these guys.

The game will be better for it.

– Seedy K


  1. cbcard
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    An age limit would be good too. Several of these guys are too old to be able to be airline pilots.

  2. fred
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The three Hess calls you referenced are the ones we know about. God knows what else is out there. Jim Burr is, in my opinion, one of the best but that continuation call he gave Melo in the UL-’Cuse game just stunned me. They’re overworked. But what stuns me more is that it’s not like the NCAA isn’t making any money. Give ‘em some rest and get some more officials.And if they are getting paid by the game they are rewarding the refs and cheating the rest of us.

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