Ted Valentine is Michigan’s dream official.
Affable, transparent and, above all, favorable to the Wolverines, the veteran referee has been a good luck charm for the home team in Ann Arbor since becoming a Big Ten mainstay. Call him Michigan’s Valentine for his generosity to the maize n blue.
In Michigan home games Valentine has officiated this season, the Wolverines have been whistled for an average of nine fewer fouls per contest than their opponents, this despite the team ranking fourth in the Big Ten in percentage of shots taken from behind the arc. The +9 foul advantage Michigan holds in games overseen by Valentine crews is the largest held by any Big Ten member with one common official.
John Beilein’s team is vulnerable on the boards and in the interior of its defense, but those deficiencies tend to be nullified when Valentine is blowing the whistle. In all, Michigan has been called for only 11.3 fouls per game in contests officiated by Teddy V, down almost two full fouls from their average in all other games. Yes, the Wolverines don’t foul a lot in the first place. They are the third best team in the nation at limiting fouls. But when Mr. Valentine is on the job, Michigan becomes quasi angelic.
Sunday’s rematch with in-state rival Michigan State was par for the course. Although the Wolverines were waved for more fouls (17) than Sparty (15), Valentine did his part in preserving the Michigan mystique with him in the house.
He turned a blind eye to hand checks happening right under his nose.
He bought every flop the Wolverines tried to sell.
Yet somehow, he didn’t buy this:
Valentine’s gullibility on a pair of obvious dives by Wolverines big men served the purpose of an imaginary seal around the paint — approximating the value of a sixth, seventh and eighth Michigan defender. Michigan State shied away from its physical advantage inside lest the Spartans pick up another offensive foul on a bogus call. And so the pendulum of Sunday’s showdown swung in the other direction.
Teddy V didn’t just fumble a few calls. He altered the tenor of the game, even changed the way Tom Izzo’s group approached its offensive sets. When Michigan State fell into a dire slump to start the second half, Mr. Valentine himself was front and center. Not by chance, either.
By all testimonials from coaches, players and those who know him personally, Teddy Valentine is a good man who cherishes his job and grasps the magnitude of his responsibilities. Of course, some of that positive feedback can be traced back to Ann Arbor, where Valentine ought to be embraced as a hometown favorite.