When time stands still

This opinion column appears in the March 17th edition of the Daily Journal newspaper. Give your opinion below.

TUPELO – When it’s my time to die, I hope I can talk the Grim Reaper into letting the SEC basketball tournament timekeeper count off my final seconds.

I might live forever!

After the last 10 seconds of Sunday’s championship game, it’s a wonder the NCAA selection committee let any SEC teams into the field.

It was the messiest 41-minute game of basketball I’ve seen. Too bad a regulation game only lasts 40.

Come to think of it, maybe the committee members were watching the game despite SEC commissioner Mike Slive’s best efforts to turn the channel over to the ShamWow infomercial before it was too late.

This was a great chance for a much-maligned basketball league to put its best face forward on national TV. Too bad it was a face so ugly it could, indeed, stop a clock.

Thirty one turnovers. Seventy nine missed field goal attempts, including 40 missed 3-pointers. And less than 11,000 fans in an arena that could hold 21,655.

But wait, as the ShamWow guy would say, there’s more.

Two obvious walks -one for each team – that weren’t called in the waning seconds. Two inbounds plays in which the ball was touched but the clock never started. One clear timeout call that was simply ignored by the officials.

The pep band should’ve chimed in with that classic Chicago hit, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

After such a horrid display, it’s a surprise Mississippi State didn’t wind up as the first 17 seed in NCAA tourney history.

I can see all that happening in the first round of the Incontinent Conference tournament, but this is supposed to be Big Time Basketball.

What was up with the timekeeper? Did he take his job title too seriously and think he needed to keep those last few seconds, hang on to them instead of letting them slip away?

If this guy had been running the town clock in “High Noon,” Gary Cooper would still be sheriff. Jack Bauer would have never reached the thrilling conclusion of his first season of “24.” Syracuse and Connecticut might still be playing in the sixth overtime in the Garden.

Is this the same guy who put time back on the clock when the Russians beat Team USA at the 1972 Olympics? Is he a “Lost” fan and afraid to push the button and save the world?

Einstein argued that time is relative. Maybe the clock guy got his job because he was somebody’s brother-in-law.

Does Slive need to take some of those SEC football millions and, you know, purchase a little upgrade on the timekeeping side to avoid getting clocked by the time bandits again next season?

He has all the time in the world to ponder the answer. And if he needs more time, I know just the guy.

John L. Pitts (john.pitts@djournal.com) is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He always thought that time waits for no man, until he watched Sunday’s game.


John L. Pitts/Daily Journal

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