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CONSPIRACY! There is a bias in SEC officiating — for LSU

Collusion? Damn right. In the other direction.

Kiri Walton, | The Times-Picayune

The annual Whining of the Tigahs is almost upon us, where every adverse LSU play and inevitable loss shall be chalked up to a Trilateral Commission-level conspiracy involving Alabama, officiating, and league honchos in Birmingham.

Thus, #FreeDevinWhite was born — a preemptive gaslighting of America and preemptory begging for home calls. The rot is there, they say. There is clear evidence of bias, they claim. The SEC is totally in the tank, they cry.

And they may just be right.

But, the bias, such as it exists, is clearly in the other direction: It is LSU who receives favorable calls. It is the Baton Rouge faithful who can cheer the yellow hankies on the field. Because, the numbers don’t lie — LSU gets a lot more calls than Alabama and is flagged less than Alabama. And both effects are especially true in Death Valley.

In 2018, LSU’s opponents have been flagged the 5th highest number of times of any team in the country — 9.0 infractions per game. Alabama, for whom the flags allegedly fly in their favor, sits at just 56th — nearly dead in the middle — at 6.6 opponent flags per contest.

In 2017, LSU again received more favorable officiating than Alabama, though admittedly both were near the bottom. Still, Alabama’s opponents were whistled just 4.5 times per game — 122nd in the country. LSU was 110th, at 4.9 infractions called.

In 2016, it was even more stark — Alabama was dead last in the country in opponent flags — just 4.0 per game, and received even worse treatment at home — 3.0 flags a game. LSU was 99th, at 5.2. But, in Death Valley? Good luck. The Tigers averaged just 4.1 penalties at home, but opponents were whistled 8.0 times a game.

Only one year were the teams even close in their opponent penalties called: 2015, when the Tide drew 6.1 infractions, and the Tigers 6.2. But, again, Alabama was penalized at home, with its opponents (including LSU, I might add) being penalized far less at BDS. And, again, LSU’s opponents were drawing an absurd 10.0 flags per contest in Louisiana.

But, what about head-to-head?

Here are the last five meetings and locations (all are official boxscores).

2013 Tuscaloosa: UA 4/35 LSU 7/73

2014 Baton Rouge: UA 3/29 LSU 2/20

2015 Tuscaloosa: UA 9/88 LSU 4/49

2016 Baton Rouge: UA 6/29 LSU 3/20

2017 Tuscaloosa: UA 1/11 LSU 5/30

TOTAL: UA 23/192 LSU 18/192

LSU has drawn more flags over the five years in head-to-head meetings; in three occasions, they drew more than Alabama outright — including in 2/3rds of the the meetings in Tuscaloosa. And the penalty yardage was even over the five years.

Those overall low numbers of flags and yards should surprise no one in the head-to-head contests: it one of the SEC’s least penalized and most physical contests: the officials keep their whistles in their pockets and the let two slug it out, as it should be. It is that Thunderdome atmosphere with mauling a’plenty that makes this is by far my favorite game on the yearly schedule.

The whataboutism continues — what about flags against LSU and Alabama? Again, LSU continues to be on the favorable end of the whistle.

In 2018, LSU ranks 44th in penalties committed per game, Alabama is 53rd. In 2017, Alabama 5.1 and LSU 5.2 were 47th and 49th in the country. In 2016, LSU was a healthy 25th...Alabama was waaay down there at the 61, getting flagged 25% more than the Tigers.

See the trend here?

If there’s a conspiracy, I’m not seeing it. If good old fashioned arithmetic and reading won’t convince them, nothing will. I do see a bunch of buffoons crying over milk that has yet to be spilt and people with far more free time and fetid imaginations than is healthy in any population.

#FreeDevinWhite? Do you know how damned silly that sounds? He will be freed — at the half, after he serves his penalty for targeting.

Now, stop whining.