Ted Valentine is arguably the most polarizing referee in college basketball. On one hand, the veteran official has been in the business for nearly four decades, refereeing four NCAA championships, ten Final Fours, and 28 NCAA tournaments. He even took home Naismith College Official of the Year honors back in 2005.
On the other, “TV Teddy” has developed a reputation as one of the most demonstrative and controversial officials in the game, regularly drawing attention for his tendency to, uh, draw attention.
Hell, the guy has a compilation video on YouTube for his “worst calls and moments” and was barred from the 2018 NCAA Tournament, among other controversies such as:
- Giving Bob Knight three technicals in a game back in 1998, a moment the legendary coach later referred to as “the greatest travesty” in officiating he had witnessed in his career
- Needing to be separated with then-Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin during a game back in 2014
- Turning his back on former UNC guard Joel Berry II rather than discuss a controversial call with him, an incident that got him removed from officiating in two Big Ten Conference games and – according to Valentine – was likely the reason he did not officiate the 2018 tournament
In an appearance on The Goodman and Hummel Podcast, Valentine discussed his reputation as an official and why he has embraced the attention he has received for the on-court antics, both good and bad.
“Let me tell you what. I must be one of those people that, the more upset you get with me, the more I just do my thing. That’s just how I am,” Valentine said. “I take all that negativity and I turn it into something, it’s what I do. … I’m in a sport where they either love you, or they just like you. I’ve embraced it, it is what it is. ”
Not only does he embrace the feedback, he feeds off of the energy during games.
“I embrace it more because fans are more lovable now, fans are a lot different than it was, this will be my 39th season. Fans are who they are,” Valentine added. “I feed off of them, I just do, I feed off of them. I just feed off of them, they give me a lot of a vibe. I make faces now, I giggle at them, laugh at them now, it’s not too bad. If you become antagonistic with them, they become antagonistic with you. It’s got to be me. I get blamed for games I didn’t even work. I get blamed for calls other officials make. … I love doing what I do, I just love it. I always have.”
As for his favorite places to officiate games, Valentine likes venues with elevated floors and big-time atmospheres.
Why? Because “it’s like you’re up on a stage.”
“I always loved [Purdue’s] Mackey Arena. Big floor, big apron, big sideline, you’re not running into people. I love Vanderbilt. Some people don’t like Vanderbilt, I love Vanderbilt because it’s big, coaches are over your shoulder, so you’ve got to get the play right. I’ve always loved those places like Minnesota,” Valentine said. “I’ve always loved those [elevated] floors, that’s why I love the Final Four. It’s like you’re up on a stage. You either perform or you don’t perform. I’ve always liked those arenas, I love those places. Those were always my atmosphere.”
For Valentine’s full interview with Jeff Goodman and Robbie Hummel, watch below:
— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) November 5, 2020