Seeing as most referees are ex-players, I've often wondered if they ever get the urge to just lay out a ball carrier in the open field. Well, it seems like that question was answered during Saturday night's LSU-South Carolina game.
On first-and-goal from the eight-yard line, Gamecocks signal-caller Stephen Garcia took off on a quarterback draw and gained four yards before going down at the four. LSU safety Curtis Taylor was credited with the tackle, but as you can see in this video, it was umpire Wilbur Hackett Jr. who "Night Train" Lane'd Garcia with a devastating forearm shiver:
A few more angles on the bone-jarring hit:
Although Hackett didn't properly wrap up, you have to respect that zebra's initial form -- break down, lower the hips and explode into the ball carrier. Bravo.
South Carolina ended up scoring four plays later, so Hackett's hit didn't affect the game's outcome (a 24-17 LSU win).
Did this ref have some dough on the Tigers or was he just sending a message to South Carolina's troubled quarterback?
UPDATE: SI.com's Stewart Mandel did some actual reporting on this story and here's what he found out from SEC spokesman Charles Bloom, who spoke to SEC coordinator of officials Rodgers Redding about the incident:
"The umpire's most vulnerable position on the field is right behind the line of scrimmage and sometimes gets right into the play. In this case, the umpire is there, he tries to defend himself by putting his arms up. The quarterback shifts direction a little bit and he puts his arms up.
"He makes an attempt to defend himself. I know it may look different on video, but what we see is that he makes an effort to protect himself."