There is an adage in sports that is as old as the hills. Surely you have all heard it before. The old saying goes exactly like this: “A tie is like kissing your sister.”
Now, hopefully you understand my title. Do I need to say more?
My point is that sometimes a tie may not be such a bad thing. Let me tell you about one of the most famous temporary ties in Trigg County athletic history.
The year was around 1985. It was the last home football game for the Trigg County freshman team. The Todd County Rebels were in town to do battle. Trigg County’s Head Freshman Coach was none other that Gary Siegmund. Everyone in town knew him then and knows him now as simply “Coach Sieg.” Coach Sieg just happened to have a couple of young gung ho assistants by the names of George Turnley and Mike Wright.
In the 1980s, you pretty much hired your own officials for freshman games. Since that was the case, Coach Sieg had the same officials for all his home games. The three guys that formed Sieg’s crew were all from Ft. Campbell. Their names are not necessary – it is the story that matters. I am sure they were all highly competent officials. They knew Sieg so well that they even had their own nickname for him. They called him “Ziggy.”
The setting was a cold night in late October. There was just a smattering of people in the stands. Most of those that were there huddled close together to fend off the chilly October air.
As the players warmed up, no one noticed what went on at midfield before the game. Sieg’s personal officiating crew summoned him to the middle of the field for a meeting. It was at this time that one of the officials ripped open a brown paper bag and presented him with a gallon jug of Jim Beam whiskey as a token of their appreciation for getting hired to do so many games.
When interviewing Sieg about this he said, “Here I was in a dry county and the guy gives me this huge jug right in front of the world. Fortunately, I lived in the old Fourshee house right beside the field and I could still run at the time. I hightailed it off to the house as quickly as I could to get the ‘gift’ out of sight.”
Just a few moments later, Sieg returned and the game began. It was a defensive battle. The two teams fought it out for four quarters and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
The officials brought Sieg and the Todd coach to midfield for a meeting. They gave the coaches the choice of leaving the game a tie or having an overtime where each team got four plays starting from the 10-yard line. There weren’t any hard and fast rules about how to settle ties in freshman games back then – or at least not any with that officiating crew. Sieg was basically running the show.
Coach Sieg came to the sideline and, in his infinite wisdom, told Coach Turnley and I that he thought he would just let the game end in a tie. Coach Turnley and I, in our non-infinite wisdom, quickly protested his decision. We told him a tie was like kissing your sister. Apparently, we hadn’t thought about the Ashley Judd scenario yet. Anyway, Sieg relented, and the playoff began.
We, Trigg County, took the ball first and scored a touchdown to go up 6-0. The two-point conversion attempt failed. Todd County then got the ball on the 10-yard line with four downs to score. On the fourth attempt, Todd scored to tie the game 6-6. Now, all Todd had to do was kick an extra point or run or pass from the two-and-a-half yard line and they would win the game.
At this point, let me introduce you to one of the leaders on Trigg’s County’s freshman team. That would be Chris Radford. Chris was the quarterback on offense and safety on defense. Chris would end up a central figure in the outcome of this game. He would also provide us with a quote that would go down in history as one of the most bizarre things that a freshman player would ever say to a group of officials.
Back to the game. Todd County decided to go for two. They lined up and scored. As a matter of fact, I think they lined up and scored two or three times in a row. Curiously, each time Todd scored there would be a 15-yard penalty called against them.
You do remember who hired those officials, right?
It just seemed like there was no way Todd was going to win that game. Finally, the situation was this. Todd had the ball fourth down and 47 yards to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Sieg called time out. He grabbed Chris by the facemask and told him to line up on the goal line and not let anybody get behind him.
The ball was snapped. Todd County’s quarterback launched a Hail Mary pass that would make Doug Flutie proud. He threw with all his might but the ball was still about 10 yards short of the goal line. In his excitement, Chris Radford left the goal line and charged for the interception. Todd and Trigg players collided in mid air in a scrum for the ball. Somehow, the ball popped out of the mid-air battle and sailed toward the goal line. It was there that a Todd player had sneaked behind everybody. He caught the deflected pass for the 47-yard two-point conversion and the win. At this point, there was nothing even the officials could do to preserve Trigg and Sieg’s win. It was over. Well, almost.
Chris Radford felt like he had been bumped illegally as he went for the interception. The young freshman somehow cornered all three officials and voiced his complaint.
He closed his speech with this infamous quote: “YOU GUYS WILL NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!”
There may have never been a more brash statement from a freshman in high school.
Needless to say, the next year rolled around and football season began. As sure as there was green grass and goalposts on the field, there was also the infamous trio of officials.
So, I guess a tie would have been better than the loss. Ties might not be the worst thing in the world. Makes me wonder if Ashley Judd had any brothers?
OT: Speaking of ties. Jim Wallace and Steve Allen recently tied George Radford and yours truly in a 2-on-2 golf scramble. The match took place in Okaville, Ill. It was a highly-disputed tie as we attempted to play one sudden death hole but had to stop play in the middle of the hole. Ah, that’s another story.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.