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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
7/19/2006 07:45:00 AM

The Inaugural, One-Eyed Post

Was it this guy?
Could it have been ... this guy?
Al Tielemans/SI

There were so many potential choices for my inaugural Blog topic, but one was just too juicy to resist. According to an article in Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times, James Filson, a Big Ten referee for 13 years, has sued the conference for violating the federal disability act when it fired him 2005. Filson's disability? He only has one eye. He lost vision in the other one in 2000 when he slipped and hit a corner of his desk.

Despite what you might think, the point of this post is not to make the obvious one-eyed ref jokes. First of all, that would be mean, and secondly, plenty of people function perfectly well with one eye. Like Dick Vitale. (Well, maybe that one's debatable). And Filson, who according to the article informed his employer of his condition at the time it happened, apparently did just fine for five seasons. He was even selected to officiate the Orange Bowl.

So, what caused his downfall? According to the article, a reporter told the "University of Michigan's head football coach" about his eye, and the coach tipped off Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who "allegedly urged Filson's firing." Strangely, the article does not mention the coach's name. Most likely this is because the writer is a federal court reporter who doesn’t know said name (she also misspelled Delany), but, just possibly because of legal ramifications, in which case, I'm not mentioning it either.

However, if it's the perpetually grumpy coach we all think it is, the scenario described by Filson is almost laughably predictable. Over the years, we've watched said coach complain a litany of grievous injustices, about officiating, about his team's schedule, about bomb-sniffing security dogs at Ohio Stadium. After years of happily accepting New Year's bowl bids over often more-deserving teams because of Michigan's fan appeal, he cried foul when the same thing relegated his team to the Alamo Bowl last year. Why am I not surprised he was the one to throw a hissy fit about the one-eyed ref? What do you think? Should the guy have been fired? Or was this simply another case of Lloy ... er, Michigan's coach, working himself up over nothing.

posted by sidotcom | View comments |


Posted: 11:54 AM   by Steve Dave
I think the best word to describe Lloyd Carr is warm. He's just a big teddy bear with a kind heart. He just wants to make sure that the ref isn't robbed of his remaining sight by the horror of having to watch Michigan's leaky defense up close.
Posted: 11:55 AM   by Anonymous
I lived In Ann Arbor for 7 years and grumpy doesn't begin to describe t-loss-lloyd. He is a pathetic coach and he chould feel just as pathetic to be complaining about this ref. He need to look inward for the real reason for Michigan's pathetic play. Michigan fans should thank God that Gary Moller had two years to coach the player's on the 97 team.
Posted: 12:07 PM   by Port
Stewart, your inaugural post could not be more perfect. As a Penn State alumnus I have observed the Michigan head coach's stance on officiating from afar for some time now. (We find Coach Paterno amusing too, for the record...) It's very clear that although this official was missing one eye, he clearly did not live in the Ann Arbor area nor did he have a proclivity to adding time to the game clock at (mis?)opportune intervals. Which, apparently, is a death-knell in the Big Ten Officiating World.

Good luck with the blog and I look forward to not getting any work done for the next 6 months because of it.
Posted: 12:22 PM   by Anonymous
It does seem odd to be dismissed for a condition that you have operated under for 4+ years. I think this guy has a legitimate gripe and if Michigan's coach had anything to do with it he should be dismissed.
Posted: 12:45 PM   by Anonymous
Regarding people who see in only one dimension: it takes one to know one..
Posted: 12:46 PM   by Anonymous
Being the Ohio State fan that I am, I couldn't decide what juicy comment to say about afore-unmentioned coach... However, I think the real knucklehead with "no vision" is Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney. If his comments to Mr. Filson are as reported, he is the one that should be fired. We'll let the Buckeyes humiliate the coach.
Posted: 12:50 PM   by Anonymous
Political correctness aside, of course he should be fired- the ref, that is. You need to have a full field of vision to accurately make the calls that the job requires. In fact, all Refs, Umps, etc., should have their eyesight tested as a mandatory part of the job.
Posted: 12:54 PM   by Anonymous
full disclosure: i'm a rabid Ohio State fan and anything and anyone that has anything to do with that school up north, I tend to despise from the bottom of my heart. That said, I think that it would be ridiculous for Carr to complain about a ref solely because of his medical condition. I seem to remember that college football has a review board which analyzes the quality of the calls which ref makes in games already, so these ref's officiating is already being analyzed. If Carr wants to complain about bad officiating (as he usually does), or even say that the ref made bad calls because something happened in his blind spot and point out specific occurences, that's one thing, but to call for and get the ref's firing solely for being blind in one eye is ridiculous, and clearly a violation of the ref's rights under the disabilities act.
Posted: 12:56 PM   by westy
I think the Big Ten is covering their ass. If the ref blew a call you can reason that he blew the call because he only has one eye. If a ref normally wears glasses wouldn't you want him to be wearing them when he is officiating? I feel sorry for the ref but the Big Ten made the right call.
Posted: 1:03 PM   by Evan
I second port's comments of looking forward to not getting any work done. It is also delightful for this Ohio State fan to see anything which paints those yahoos in blue (or their head yahoo) in a negative light. It's even better when the painting is done by an impartial member of the press and not just one of us crazy OSU fans! Look forward to all of your new communication mechanisms and I wish this 2006 college football season would get under way already! Go Bucks!
Posted: 1:04 PM   by Anonymous
First of all, I think you meant the Americans with Disabilities Act. I know you're not a lawyer, but that one wasn't that hard..

Second, if you want to see someone crying about the refs, take a look at Iowa, PSU, etc after playing a game against Michigan. Go read any internet message board devoted to those fan bases and you will see that Lloyd has nothing on them.

Finally, if you want to sling venom towards Michigan for no aparent reason other than the fact that Lloyd Carr rubs you the worng way, fine. Just don't go write any "unbiased" pieces about college football in the near future, cause no Mich of us will be buying it.
Posted: 1:19 PM   by Anonymous
I think it was right for the commish to look into the one-eyed ref, and entirely appropriate for ANY big 10 coach to bring it up.

Referreeing a CFB game requires perfect vision. Any compromise to depth-perception could be critical. I"m not saying the ref needs to be fired (apparently he has done well enough to ref the Orange Bowl) but it's also appropriate for the Big 10 "office" to continuously monitor the situation.

Also, this has nothing to do with Carr being "grumpy" or having a "hissy".
Posted: 1:20 PM   by Ben
Are you commenters this stupid? If it was any of your team's game being refereed by a one-eyed man, the sky would be falling. Especially you, Mr. Penn State Conspiracy Theorist.

While we're at it, let's defend a handless person's right to be a surgeon, or a mentally challenged person's right to be a NASA engineer.

Get real. Lloyd, if anything, did a service to the college football community by alerting it to something it should've known and disallowed. The referee should be subject to punishment for hiding the fact.

Stewart, I expected more from you.
Posted: 1:36 PM   by Anonymous
I assume that port is referring to last fall's Michigan vs. Penn State game, when the referees added time on the clock with 3 minutes to go at Coach Paterno's request.

He is referring to that particular incident, correct? I mean, if it's bad for a coach to urge that time be added to the clock late in games (and for officials to do so), it must have been wrong for Coach Paterno and the refs to do so with 3 minutes left, right?
Posted: 1:37 PM   by Anonymous
A lot of folks are reading a lot into some conversation between Lloyd and the commissioner. Even if you take at face value that Lloyd called Delany, there is absolutely no logical basis at this point to jump to the conclusion that some have, including Mr. Mandel apparently, that Carr somehow agitated for Filson to be fired.

In fact, it seems that no one knows what the substance of any conversation between Carr and Delany might have been. Mandel wants to characterize it as a "hissy fit," but for all he, the Sun-Time Reporter he cites, or any of us knows the call could have been to express sympathy or concern for Filson. The point is that it is an exercise in unfounded conjecture to assume that Carr had a malicious motive.

I think it is not a revelation that Mandel has an axe to grind with Lloyd Carr, but at least spare us the hatchet jobs and limit the critcisms to the objectively verifiable. Show us where Carr said Filson should be fired? Heck, show us where Carr is alleged to have said a negative word about the man? But why would you need actually facts to support your column if all you want to do is take a cheap swipe at someone?

Then again, if I had a nickel for every time a hack columnist didn't bother to find a fact before they spouted off. . .
Posted: 1:50 PM   by Josh
Another comment made the ludicrous assertion that perhaps Carr was calling Delany to express sympathy for the ref??? Why in the world would a man who is beyond busy trying to coach a football team take the time to call Delany to express sympathy for a referee? The ref has dealt just fine with his condition for over 5 years now, and doesn't need anyones condolences. In fact, I believe that the ref's ratings (the league keeps track of ref performances) have actually been HIGHER since he lost his eye, than before the accident.
This whole situation is ridiculous, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the decision be reversed by the court and well see Filson back on Big Ten fields...Hopefully reffing Michigan games, so Carr still has an excuse for why they lose.

On another note, I'm looking forward to these blogs. You can never have too much college football.
Posted: 2:03 PM   by Anonymous
Unless there is clear evidence that the ref's performance is lacking, the guy has a case. If it were hampering his ability to do his job, you'd have noticed long before now.
Posted: 2:08 PM   by Anonymous
Wow... you just lost a ton of respect. First of all, you base your entire blog off of an assumption. Then you mention the federal reporters inaccuracy of even spelling the Big Ten Commissioner's name wrong. Laughable in itself, please tell me the problem with wanting proper officiating? Did you not see the Alamo Bowl? Can you not agree that UM had a bad set of refs? I mean it was published in SI and aired all over ESPN, but you complain about a coach who wants fair officiating. Then you mention how Carr gets peeved after his players had to get searched outside of the OSU stadium for over an hour for bombs (which didn't happen for any other team that OSU played at home, nor any other team that I've heard of period!) while the OSU fans yelled derogatory remarks and spit on UM players as something that's not to be complained about. As far as UM's New Years bowl history, look at UM's record, that's why they get invited to bowls. Last year, UM beat Iowa and had the same record yet gets chosen for a lower bowl and UM shouldn't complain? Please tell me where your logic is, because I just don't see it.
Posted: 2:15 PM   by weisguy
The ref, like many UofM fans of late may only be able to stomach one 'eyeful' of the Wolverine's annually, overrated squad. Maybe Lloyd should take a cue here and rub the dirt out of his mug that has been generated by the predictable play calling of run up the middle, run off the tackle short pass to the flat, punt!!
Posted: 2:22 PM   by Anonymous
Folks who urge termination of the ref based upon a ridiculous stereotype are precisely why the ADA was passed. That's called prejudice and bigotry. Those who urge evaluation based upon actual performance are right on.

Otherwise, as a 'Husker fan, what's not to love about Lloyd?
Posted: 2:35 PM   by Port
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
Posted: 3:15 PM   by The Talisman
I'm enjoying the rants from Michigan fans. How terrible it is to criticize their sainted coach for squeel...er...doing us all a big favor by outting this ref.

Oh, and the one asking how we knew the UM coach had a malicious motive. Geeze. What did he think he would accomplish, bringing the subject up to the commish? A parade, an award, a halftime ceremony? Gimme a break.

Then another hails the coach as just doing this in the interest of "fair officiating".

Get a load of the link below about Michigan's favorite son...er...ref. Does anyone here think that the UM coach has contacted Delany about this "appearance of impropriety"?

Thanks, coach, for blowing the whistle on a handicapped ref yet turning a blind-eye to fair play.

Posted: 3:15 PM   by Anonymous
I just want to add as an unbias observer that any game involving Michigans seems to last five hours. The "un-named" coach seems to have a conference with the refs. after every play. There is so much stopping and starting to a Michigan game. Zero flow. Frustrating to watch as someone who doesn't care if the team wins or loses, rather who just wants to watch the game.
Posted: 3:39 PM   by Ben
Only a Husker fan would consider observation about a one-eyed person not being able to see as well as a person with two eyes a "stereotype."

Posted: 3:43 PM   by Anonymous
Questionable officiating is part of the game, so championship teams and coaches learn to deal with it, and don't make excuses. If the guy has been successfully officiating for 4 years, he has demonstrated that he can perform his duties with one eye. Since someone brought up the Alamo Bowl, after watching that game I just can't understand why a kid would subject themselves to 4-5 years of playing for that man. IMHO his tantrums cost his team that game, not the officials.
Posted: 4:14 PM   by Anonymous
A top 10 Finish is a good goal for not only Michigan but the anyone in the Big Ten. Remember the Big Ten dosent play for National Championchips they play to go to the Rose Bowl!
Posted: 4:17 PM   by Port
Thanks to Ben for calling me stupid. (I figured I must be "Mr. Penn State Conspiracy Theorist.") That was swell. But I must disagree with his "sky is falling" comment - anyone who has watched Big Ten football would be thankful to know that the league employs "one-eyed" referees: at least there finally would be an explanation for the officiating. (Jokes aside, this guy, if he proves competent - hard not to put a joke there - has every right to continue officiating with his condition.) As for the post under Ben's, if someone can give me some detail on Coach Paterno's asking for additional time in that game, please do. Hadn't heard that one. Seriously. Anyone??
Posted: 4:30 PM   by Prowler
The Big Ten is going to get crushed on this in court. The guy obviously can do the job and did so for 5 years before is physical condition was discovered. Open up the pocketbook baby!!
Posted: 5:04 PM   by Anonymous
IF the ref can show that he was fired because of his purported disability, THEN he'll win in court. That is a steep burden to prove in an at-will employment situation, however, given Lloyd's track record for boneheaded maneuvers, it could very well be the case that the proof, is in the proverbial pudding.

Anyways, just made me chuckle. Go Bucks!
Posted: 5:09 PM   by Anonymous

All of us in Ohio would appreciate it if you didn't 'Throw Venom towards Michigan'.... We're trying to keep John Cooper Jr. coaching the maize and blue for many years to come. Let's just keep their inadequacies under wraps for as long as possible, OK?
Posted: 5:11 PM   by Anonymous
Ben, 'Husker fan here.

Ben, I wasn't refering to a person with one eye "not being able to see as well" as a person with two. (Although I know lots of people with two eyes who can't see straight.) I (along with most) was saying job performance should be based upon objective criteria, not bigoted, ignorant prejudice.

Ben, I didn't say the decision to fire this ref was based upon a "stereotype," I said "ridiculous stereotype."

And, Ben, thanks for making my point as to all of the above.
Posted: 5:31 PM   by Anonymous
This kind of sums up Michigan's season. Shouldn't they be more worried about coaching and improving their team so that they can actually seem competitive. Didn't the Big 10 complain enough so that instant replay was brought into college football? Lloyd needs to worry about getting his team to compete this season. Michigan didn't play well last year and deserved the Alamo Bowl as well as the beating that Nebraska gave them!
Posted: 6:07 PM   by Anonymous
I'm curious as to when a Michigan team got a New Year's Day bowl game over a more deserving one. I'm not talking about another team who has a New Year's day game with Michigan in a better one, but a team getting knocked down to a December game at the expense of Michigan.
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