Dan Wetzel discusses those zany SEC referees in his latest article. In this article, the biggest line is this:
There is no full-blown conspiracy, although fans don’t want to hear it. It’d be impossible for the SEC to get all these refs who earn around $500 a week and maintain full-time jobs to risk federal imprisonment and fix games. Even suggested favoritism is unlikely.
There is no conspiracy. Why? Well, that statement speaks to it, but there is one name and one acronym to explain why there is no conspiracy: Tim Donaghy and SWC.
Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges based on his “fixing” of NBA games. He served time in a federal prison camp. Something tells me that these SEC referees do not want to follow that path.
And I am certain that the SEC does not want to follow the path of the once-proud but corrupt Southwest Conference (SWC). A solid investigation that uncovers such a fix in the SEC would destroy the conference. It is highly doubtful that the fix is in.
But let’s be clear about something. Unlike the Tennessee-Alabama game where the missed penalty would not have changed the outcome, the LSU interception could have changed the outcome. But there is no guarantee that LSU would have scored.
Nevertheless…it should have been an interception.
Here is the problem. The call on the field is incomplete. So there has to be “conclusive evidence” to overturn it. This camera angle does appear conclusive. However, the two other angles (a side angle and an angle from behind the Alabama offense) were inconclusive. It was not easy to tell if he had clear possession and exactly where his foot was (go back and watch those angles carefully).
But is it not the fault of the on-field officials. It is the replay official that blew it.
Nevertheless, there is no conspiracy. If the refs were really in on it, why not bail Alabama out on the safety, claiming that Ingram (or TE Michael Williams) was the intended target and the hit caused the errant throw. Or maybe they could have allowed Alabama to take the timeout when they broke with 12 players in the huddle. Those both seem like fine opportunities to continue to “help Alabama.”
The reason neither of those two happened is because THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY!!!! In fact, allow me to pull three examples that should have favored Alabama.
Against Tennessee, there were two holding calls not called on the key late drive that led to the blocked field goal. The first was on the big pass down field. The second was on the field goal itself, where it appeared that Daniel Stricker held an outside rusher (LINK: watch the left side).
The third was from the Alabama-LSU game itself. The very first play for Alabama was a pass to the right that appeared to be caught (by, I believe Smelley). It was ruled incomplete, but the CBS replay appeared to show that he grabbed the ball with one hand, had possession as he was pushed out of bounds.
There was no replay! The reason was the replay booth was, for some reason, down. Now, who knows whether or not the play would have been overturned or even mattered in the end. Alabama could have gone on to score a touchdown en route to a blowout, or Ingram could fumble on the next play. I do not like “what ifs” because so many things could have happened.
And that is really my point with the Patrick Peterson play, who knows if LSU would have even done anything with the ball. Maybe they score; maybe Lee throws an interception.
Besides, LSU had over three minutes to do something with the ball. They failed. Yes, six points is different than nine points and changes the Tigers’ game plan. Point is, they still had their chance and blew it.
But here is the bigger point — the game is more than one play. I hate any notion that the game was lost on one play as there are many factors to a game. LSU had the lead and allow Alabama to get back into it and take over.
Consider the following numbers.
Here are the yardage numbers by quarter for the game, based on the drive log at Yahoo! Sports:
- First Quarter: Alabama 94 yards; LSU 40 yards
- Second Quarter: Alabama 129 yards; LSU 99 yards
- Third Quarter: Alabama 137 yards; LSU 87 yards
- Fourth Quarter: Alabama 112 yards; LSU 8 yards
Wow! Simply based on that, who is to say that LSU, with Lee at QB, would have even been able to drive on Alabama’s defense after the blown interception call? LSU was outgained in the first half 223 to 139. The discrepancy was even greater in the second half (249 to 95).
LSU had one drive of note — a 13-play, 91-yard drive that began at the end of the first quarter and ended with a touchdown in the second and a 7-0 lead for the Tigers. They did have another touchdown drive that was set-up following the safety-induced free kick.
Beyond that, LSU barely moved the ball. Remove those two drives, LSU had 84 yards. They had six three-and-out “drives” that totaled 16 net yards. Alabama only had one three-and-out. LSU also had eight “drives” of five plays of less, with seven of those eight leading to punts (the other one was the interception late in the fourth quarter). LSU had another punt after their only “long” drive (8 plays, 28 yards).
Let’s see. The referees did not cause all of those three-and-outs. The referees did not play soft on Julio Jones on a bubble screen, a play that Jones took 71 yards to the house. The referees did not allow Mark Ingram to run for 144 yards, most of those in the second half.
The referees, or in particular the replay official, might have blown the call. But LSU blew the game.