When you spend as many hours on the road and as many nights in different high school and college gymnasiums as I do, you get to meet some pretty interesting people.
Like Tynes Hildebrand.
I met Mr. Hildebrand on Wednesday night at Murray State's basketball games against Tennessee State. Hildrebrand was on an official visit to observe the referees of the men's game, essentially grading their performance and reporting it back to the NCAA for the officials' files and records.
We chatted and exchanged pleasantries during the women's game. Turns out, Hildrebrand coached at Northwestern State in Louisiana before becoming the school's athletic director for many years. He said he recruited a player from Paducah a long time ago.
He was very excited to see Racer head coach Billy Kennedy. Hildrebrand gave Kennedy his FIRST JOB as an assistant coach in 1988. Kennedy actually SMILED when Hildebrand caught his attention before the national anthem. Kennedy doesn't smile much around a court.
Anyway, back to officiating. Hildebrand shared that he sees anywhere from four to six games a week on the road as the South's regional advisor. Today he was heading to Austin Peay to observe more officials, and would travel to Columbia, Mo., Monday, to my alma mater, to observe the officials in the heated Missouri-Kansas rivalry game (very jealous of him).
I asked Hildebrand about officiating during intense rivalry games, and he said that players get away with more fouls/referees don't call as many in the more heated games. The games naturally take on a more aggressive, physical format than other not-so-important games.
As for the officials at Murray State's game at TSU, Hildebrand methodically made his marks and notes during the game. While he responded to the quality of officiating in the first half off the record, my personal thoughts were that it was a rare, relatively well-called game.
Of the three officials, Hildebrand had observed Bret Smith in other games, and said he was a very excellent official.
We did agree on two bad calls, discovered because of my jokingly prodding for information.
If I get table-mates half as interesting as Mr. Hildebrand at a game, you know it's going to be a good night.