Big Ten men's basketball officiating was aggravating to watch this season from a coaching, player and fan point of view.
But that's old news to brothers John and Tom Rice, who are in charge of the Hoop Refs page at www.GoBoilers.com. Since the 1995-96 season, the Rice brothers have charted how the Boilermakers have fared with each of the Big Ten officials.
Even though a picture of Johnnie Cochran greets viewers on the home page, this is no ordinary fan rant toward the men in striped shirts.
John Rice is a computer expert and Tom Rice is the mathematician who collects the data and awards STINC-O (Statistical Trends In Natural Conflux with respect to Outrage) and STINC-E (with the 'E' standing for Eventuality) quotients.
For those without the MIT degree, STINC-O points measure the "Outrage" points awarded each referee for his performance in a Purdue defeat. One hundred points are awarded each season, and like golf, a high score is not good.
"This usually makes it so that if we lose a lot, each loss is not very outrageous," Tom Rice said. "If we win a lot, each loss should hit harder. This year renewed a www.GoBoilers.com watercooler debate about whether or not outrage points should be assigned in victories. As of now, they are not ... but some of the weird things that happened this year, even in victories, made us think that over a bit."
Current referees who make the Rices cringe when they appear at a Purdue game are Mike Sanzere, Ted Valentine (no surprise here) and Sid Rodehoeffer. Purdue was 0-2 this season with Valentine present and 2-4 with Rodehoeffer, who's been known to let bad breakfasts affect his performance. However, Purdue was 2-0 in games with Sanzere.
"I actually like seeing the guys with the bad reputations on the game," Tom Rice said. "There's just something a little more juicy about seeing us play against IU and Sid Rodehoeffer.
"With that said, I never like to see Valentine. No matter the opponent, that guy scares me."
Steve Welmer, regarded as one of the top referees in college basketball, is the top-rated Big Ten referee in the Rice system.
"I like Steve Welmer and we hardly ever see him," John Rice said.
Welmer's only appearance in a Purdue game this season was the 79-55 home victory over Penn State.
STINC-E measures a referee's winning percentage in Boilermaker games. If a referee's winning percentage is .500 and Purdue's percentage without him is .750, that's bad news. Jim Burr, Randy Drury and the now-retired Tom Drucker are among the least favorite referees in this category.
Just a cursory glance at the amount of statistical information makes one wonder, what triggered the Rices' interest in Big Ten officiating?
"Our dad's been a season ticket holder since 1980, when George Solomon, Gary Muncy and Charlie Fouty were routinely hosing Purdue," John Rice said. "When we first started going to games together in 1982 after I graduated, he impressed our seat neighbors with his knowledge of the officials' names and trends."
The Rices have received little official feedback, other than three or four e-mails from someone claiming to be a referee a few years ago.
"There was also a time a few years back when we went to the Keady radio show and secretly had a 6-year-old girl take over a napkin that read 'Did you know that we have lost five of the last six games officiated by Donnee Gray?' " Tom said. "Keady said something polite like, 'is that right?' but I think he did look somewhat interested."
The Rices hope that no one takes these officiating ratings too seriously, however. There are also features on the Web site like the Randy Drury "Atomic Clock" which are meant for entertainment only.
"I think the main draw is the attempted humorous spin we put on things ... the assuming that so many refs are 'up to no good' and perhaps the biggest joke of all, the assuming that what we are doing is valid in the first place," Tom said. "It's just been a great way to be ridiculous with people.
"We'd be honored to know that we were collecting valuable data for the coaching staff, but we also assume they've got better things to do than hang around www.GoBoilers.com. As a matter of fact, who in this world doesn't?"
Thompson is a Journal and Courier sportswriter whose Web column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org