SEC Officials Still Can't Get It Right

Tim TrollingerCorrespondent INovember 10, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers questions Head Linesman Johnny Crawford (L) during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Since I'm not on the SEC payroll, I'm pretty sure that I can call it like I see it. I don’t think SEC Commissioner Mike Slive will come looking for me.

Every fan watching the Saturday matchup between Alabama and LSU was a victim of blatantly bad officiating.

In a $2.5 billion attempt by ESPN (not to mention CBS) to make the SEC the premiere league in college football, one thing stands out. It has become crystal clear that they want to protect their investment.

They cannot afford (for ratings sake) a mid-major team to play in the National Championship game. It’s for this very reason that I believe that referees, although not technically cheating, are calling games a little differently for some teams.

Not much different then when NBA star Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime. NBA officials allowed him to back down opponents and rarely called an offensive foul on him. The networks could ill afford their biggest draw to be fouling out of every game.

Every game has a few bad calls, some missed calls, and even some controversy, but in Saturday's Alabama versus LSU game, fans were treated to a series of blatant missed calls that would rival the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

Every one is talking about the missed interception call, but the tone for this game was set early. Take a look at some of the photos posted on the web.

On the first series of the game, Jordan Jefferson rushes five yards for an apparent first down. He is clearly spotted a yard short of his forward progress. For some reason, or perhaps no reason, there is no review of the spot and LSU is forced to punt.

Later officials mark off six yards for a five-yard running into the kicker penalty. 'Bama was clearly on the 50 yard line, but after the penalty they were six inches short of the 44. 'Bama is now within a few inches, goes for it, and makes it on fourth down.

On perhaps the biggest play of the game, a screen pass to Julio Jones, James Carpenter clearly blocks the LSU defender in the back, springing Jones for a long touchdown.

Of course the obvious interception at the end of the game. This one seems to be making the most headway.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson stepped in front of Greg McElroy’s pass and might have gotten his left foot down in bounds—maybe both feet—but was ruled out with 5:54 left and LSU trailing 21-15. Replay official Gerald Hodges determined there wasn’t the required “undisputed video evidence” to overturn the call.

With all the advancement in video equipment and with $2.5 billion on the line you’d think the networks and the SEC could do a better job.

Either way, LSU and 'Bama fans, as well as all college fans, were cheated out of a great possible ending.

'Bama fans were cheated because now a cloud of controversy flies over their team. LSU was cheated by denying them the opportunity to try and win the game. Lastly, fans were cheated because we just want a fairly called game.