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Hackett Hit

Yesterday, the sports blogosphere was buzzing about an apparent tackle of South Carolina Gamecock quarterback Stephen Garcia by the field umpire. The video was quite popular, making its way all the to ESPN’s PTI. During the outcry, it was revealed the umpire in question is Wilbur Hackett Jr and he was a three-year starter at linebacker for the University of Kentucky.

In other words, we now have a motive to attach to Hackett’s actions. First, the video replay:

As you can clearly see, Hackett squares up to a scrambling Garcia before he delivers the shoulder block. Naturally, when something this out of the ordinary occurs, folks are willing to chalk it up to a “wrong place, wrong time” situation, but once you shed some more light on the event, another explanation appears possible. Even likely:

The week before the LSU game, the Gamecocks played Kentucky in Lexington, beating them 24-17. However, South Carolina didn’t start having consistent success moving the ball until Steve Spurrier replaced Chris Smelley with Garcia, who proceeded to lead his team down the field, converting on a number of 3-and-longs.

In light of this, the explanation is obvious: Hackett was getting back at Garcia for beating his alma mater a week before. Something like, “damn if you would’ve done that against me when I was playing, Garcia.” I mean, after watching the umpire square up and track Garcia before he lays into him, how does any other explanation fit?

It’s almost like Hackett was saying, “hey Garcia, I’m going to do what my school couldn’t — put you in the ground.” And he did. Quite successfully, I might add. To quote a fan from the Catspause message boards:

“Finally, a UK guy got a solid hit on Garcia.”

For what it’s worth, the SEC is covering for Hackett:

“Garcia changes his direction just a tad, which ties up the umpire just a tad and makes it look a lot worse than it really was,” SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said.

“The umpire position amongst the officiating crew lends itself to more contact than any other official on the field … We feel there was nothing else that needs to be read into it and it was a collision between a player and an official.”

Collusion is imperative for plots like this to succeed.