In a new story for Omaha.com, we finally hear from John Higgins for the first time after Kentucky fans lit up his phone lines and his business page with criticisms (to put it lightly) of his officiating in the UK-UNC Elite Eight game.
Higgins said things got so bad, some of his family members wanted him to retire after 28 years as a referee, while many of his employees were afraid to drive around town in company trucks. His roofing business dropped to a 1.0 rating from a 4.8 rating on Facebook, although it is slowly climbing back up now that things have died down.
Higgins also said he thought he and his two colleagues called a fair game in Memphis, which is part of the reason why he was asked to do his eighth Final Four.
“My job is to be fair to both teams,’’ he told the website. “Be professional and demand sportsmanship. That’s what we’re supposed to do as officials. That’s what I try to do every time I get out.’’
Higgins estimates he received thousands of phone calls, e-mails and Facebook comments, some fans calling as many as 40 or 50 times in one day. Things didn’t slow down until his office blocked any incoming calls from Kentucky area codes.
“Nobody has ever seen anything like this,’’ Higgins said. “This is crazy.’’