A Letter to the Commissioner of the SEC, Mike Slive
Dear Commissioner Slive,
We come to you as a collective voice asking for a simple thing. Fairness and equitability. We do not come as fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tennessee Volunteers, Florida Gators, Louisiana State Tigers, or any of the member Southeastern Conference schools. We do not even come as fans of the Southeastern Conference. We come together, united as the global community of college football fans.
Over the past decade, the SEC has proven their strength in college football. Few will deny that the SEC has the best collection of talent and coaches. The record and number of BCS Championships speak for themselves. Some have wondered why the best conference in the country could find themselves with the worst officiating crews. Over the past two seasons, however, an unfortunate truth has started to reveal itself.
The officials aren’t bad at what they do. They are on the take.
Commissioner Slive, take a look at the calls that have gone in favor of the SEC unbeatens in the last two years. As we discuss the list, I challenge you or any SEC executive to point out a controversial call that played as large an impact in a loss for a national championship contender.
2009 Football Season
October 3, 2009- LSU vs. Georgia –
Georgia is flagged for excessive celebration, helping LSU to continue their undefeated season. Georgia had already lost to an out of conference opponent, Oklahoma State and was considered out of the national title picture. LSU was undefeated and ranked fourth in the nation. The call helped LSU to seal their win on the road against Georgia. SEC officials announced after the game it should not have been a penalty.
October 17, 2009- Arkansas vs. Florida –
Several calls were instrumental to Florida’s victory in the final moments over the Razorbacks. Several favorable spots for the Gators and infractions on the Razorbacks dotted the game. There were also several easy to call penalties against Florida that never drew a flag. However, no call was more blatantly biased than the personal foul on Malcolm Sheppard who was flagged for shucking a flying Gator with his shoulder who was trying to hit him late. After reviewing the game tape, the SEC said there was no video evidence to support the penalty and suspended the officiating crew. Arkansas was unranked. Florida was ranked number one in the nation.
October 24, 2009- Florida at Mississippi State –
Officials apparently missed a fumble by Florida’s Dustin Doe before he scores a touchdown after an interception. Instead of Mississippi State getting the ball at their own 20 due to touchback, the officials award Florida with a touchdown. Replay clearly shows the ball was loose before Doe crossed the goal line. In addition, the tape also shows he stepped out of bounds before getting to the goal line. Mississippi State was unranked. Florida was still ranked number one in the nation.
November 7, 2009- LSU at Alabama –
Patrick Peterson clearly intercepts a pass (getting BOTH feet in bounds) with LSU trailing by six with roughly six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Even after the play was reviewed by the upstairs review booth, SEC officials still managed to get this call wrong. Interestingly, LSU had lost two weeks prior to Florida and was expected to be all but out of the BCS Championship race and ranked ninth. Alabama, on the other hand, was ranked third. The SEC had been promoting their SEC Championship between undefeated Alabama and undefeated Florida for two weeks.
October 2, 2010- Tennessee at LSU –
Again, LSU is the beneficiary of the early October madness. LSU was trailing with seconds left in the game. They platoon several players in on offense near the goal line. By rule, Tennessee must have time to respond with their own substitutions. The referees did not allow UT their allotted time by rule. Tennessee gets flagged for too many men on the field as a result. The LSU Tigers botched the play and thought the game was over. An LSU player throws his helmet while on the field as the game is still officially being played. This should be an easy personal foul penalty. There was no personal foul. LSU got one more chance and scored for the win. Tennessee was not ranked. LSU was undefeated and ranked number twelve.
October 9, 2010- LSU at Florida –
In the final moments of the game, on a fake field goal attempt, holder Derek Helton threw the ball over his shoulder. It sure looked like a forward pass which fell incomplete. The officials considered it a lateral. Kicker Josh Jasper caught it off the bounce and ran for a first down. LSU converted the drive into a touchdown for the win. Florida had lost in a horrible fashion the week earlier to Alabama and was out of the national championship hunt. LSU was still undefeated and ranked twelfth.
October 16, 2010- Arkansas at Auburn –
Perhaps no game was more impacted by egregious and biased officiating in the last two years than this past Saturday’s game in Auburn, Alabama. Mario Fannin fumbled just before crossing the goal line. Arkansas recovered and returned it past the ten yard line. The official who was both on the goal line and had a view of the football threw his white fumble bag near the goal line and followed the play to the finish. An official spotted the ball for Arkansas and motioned first down in Arkansas’ direction. No official can be found on tape to conclude that any official called a touchdown. Despite this, the officials huddle and then rule it a touchdown. It is reviewed by the booth. The review makes it very clear that the fumble occurred before Fannin reached the goal line. Nevertheless, the replay booth rules it a touchdown as well. In the fourth quarter, the officials ruled that Broderick Green fumbled the football as Arkansas trailed by one, but was driving and near midfield. The result was a fumble return for a touchdown and helped put the game out of reach for the Razorbacks. After clear video evidence shows that Green did not fumble the football before his leg was on the turf, the replay booth allows the call to stand. Arkansas was ranked twelfth and largely considered to be out of the national championship picture. Auburn was undefeated and ranked seventh.
It is important to note that nobody is accusing the SEC of protecting the University of Florida or the University of Alabama last year. Nobody is accusing the SEC of protecting LSU or Auburn this year. At least not for their sake. The SEC does not care about individual schools and all schools are on an even playing field in the SEC. No, the SEC is protecting its product. You protect their unbeatens and their powerhouses. It just as easily could have been Arkansas being protected against Auburn had they beaten Alabama three weeks earlier. Just ask LSU. They have been on both sides of the coin. They get the calls when they are still in the national championship hunt, and take it on the chin when they aren’t.
So shame on you, Commissioner Slive. You must be complicit. You have condoned and perhaps mandated that national championship contenders as the conference sees them are protectorates of the SEC officials. What was your reaction when football coaches start to question the horrible officiating? You threatened them with fines. Why the coverup, Mr. Slive? Do you not stand by your officials? Do you not believe they are doing a bang-up job? If you do, why just let the video evidence speak for itself when coaches make comments? If you believe they are not doing a bang-up job, then they need to be fired. Unless, of course, they have orders from high places, right?
The biased officiating display over the past two years is embarrassing for the conference and its member schools. It takes credibility away from the institutions that play for the highest honors. Most importantly, it rips the integrity of the entire Bowl Championship division when the strongest conference in the land stacks the deck in favor of its highest ranked teams. Your policies or your indifference, Mr. Commissioner, strip the entire nation of fair play and equality. By protecting two or three teams a year, you not only weaken the rest of the conference, you cheat other conferences that play by the rules.
Consider this a petition of grievances on behalf of every fan of college football, Commissioner Slive. We want fair play, and we want it immediately. We want the SEC to match the talent the conference displays every Saturday by the players of member schools with the integrity and honesty of an executive body that should represent the very best of sport.
We, as a collective group, are watching you, Mr. Slive, and we will hold you accountable.
College football fans everywhere
*Note: If you agree with this sentiment, feel free to sign your name in the comment box.
Update: (9:23am CST)
**Watch Ben Dial’s interview with FOX24 with Brad Reed**
Update: (6:35pm CST)
According to Justin Acri of 103.7 The Buzz, Pat Bradley handed a copy of Ben’s article to SEC commissioner Mike Slive. Upon reading the letter Commissioner Slive was visually displeased.
This entry was posted by Benjamin Dial on October 18, 2010 at 1:33 am, and is filed under College Football. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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