SEC officiating sinks to a new low

(Southeastern Conference)

(Southeastern Conference)

To stand out as a really bad officiating crew in the SEC is a challenge.

But the team of officials headed up by Georgia Tech grad Marc Curles deserves some sort of special golden flag for phantom calls that affect the outcome of a major game.

You’ll remember Curles and Co. for the bogus celebration call on Georgia’s A.J. Green in the LSU game, a call that the head of SEC officiating, Rogers Redding (another grad of the Institute), subsequently had to disavow.

Now Redding has had to issue another statement on a call by Curles’ crew during a fourth quarter drive in Saturday’s Florida-Arkansas game when the Gators were trying to tie it up. Razorbacks defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for legally using his shoulder to fend off a Florida player who was coming at him. It wasn’t even close to an infraction, as CBS’ Gary Danielson pointed out, but the 15-yard penalty set up the Gators to score on the next play.

As was the case with the Georgia call, the conference said it found “no evidence on the video to support the personal foul penalty” against the Hogs.

Cold comfort to Arkansas, just as was the SEC’s mea culpa for Georgia after the LSU game.

Arkansas also had complained about a questionable pass interference call on that same drive and a noncall on a late hit by the Gators elsewhere in the game, but the SEC said those were “judgment” calls. You can check out video clips of some of the Curles crew’s work in that game here.

It’s gotten to the point where you have to wonder what it takes in the SEC for an officiating crew to get suspended. Maybe the magic number is three. With the Dogs’ luck, Curles and his crew will get a chance to go for the trifecta when Georgia and Florida meet in Jacksonville. Or perhaps we’ll get the Penn Wagers crew, which has proved its deficient knowledge of the rule book in the past. Talk about Hobson’s choice.

On top of these blown calls, there’s the inconsistent manner in which unsportsmanlike conduct flags are being thrown in the SEC, as I noted in Sunday’s blog.

Certain teams, such as Georgia, routinely draw those flags while others, including league leaders Florida and Alabama, don’t. It’s getting to be something of a joke what Tim Tebow can get away with. Likewise, the self-aggrandizing behavior of Alabama defenders in Saturday’s game against South Carolina in apparent violation of the rules against taunting or calling attention to one’s self. One Bama player even took his helmet off on the field after a big play, supposedly a sure infraction, but no flag was thrown.

Now, personally, I have no problem with kids celebrating, gesturing or calling attention to themselves. Emotion is a big part of college football. Such displays are against the rule, but it’s a dumb rule. Heck, I don’t even have a problem with taunting, as unpleasant as it can be sometimes. I wish the rule would go away.

But as long as it’s in place, they either need to call it on everyone or not call it at all. Just apply it consistently across the board. And that very plainly is not happening right now.

There were gestures in both the Florida-Arkansas and Alabama-South Carolina games that were much more blatant than what Orson Charles did in the LSU game, but no flags.

And in Saturday’s Georgia-Vandy game, Rantavious Wooten was flagged for spiking the ball after a big catch, but a Commodore celebrating a sack by throwing a towel in the air drew no flag.

I don’t really think that there’s a conspiracy among the SEC refs to “get” Georgia. I’m not so sure, however, that there isn’t some sort of unspoken agenda to “protect” certain high-flying teams. And even if it’s just a case of officials perceiving certain teams as undisciplined and being more prone to throw flags on them than on other teams seen as model citizens, that plainly isn’t fair.

At the very least, Redding and his officials should be aware that there’s the perception that Florida and Alabama are treated differently because it’s in the SEC’s financial interests that they succeed.

As CBS Sports exec Mike Aresco told the Birmingham News last week, “Tim Tebow has just been ratings gold … You cannot overstate the value of Florida and Alabama. … If you needed two teams to carry you, those are the two.”

Maybe that kind of thinking only goes on at CBS headquarters and not at the network’s business partner, the SEC. If so, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Redding need to act now to counter the perception that the fix is in. When you start to hear comparisons between the SEC and professional wrestling, decisive action is needed to restore fans’ faith in the conference.

Suspending Curles and his crew would be a good first step. But more than that, Slive needs to make it abundantly clear to all officiating crews that the rules must be applied evenly and equally, no matter who is playing.

170 comments Add your comment


October 22nd, 2009
1:05 pm

You’re right he doesn’t deserve ALL the recognition, they’re other players that should be spotlighted from other teams, but Florida is not overrated…Undeniably florida is the #2 team in the country, crouching behind Roll Tide….


October 22nd, 2009
1:49 pm

Jillian – I think that d—head response must have come awfully easy for you.


October 22nd, 2009
2:26 pm

d___head response?? Not real sure how that would have been considered that seeing as how I’m a Gator fan..but yeah..whatever.


October 22nd, 2009
2:31 pm

Get ‘em Jillian!! And, hello, you wanna talk about looks GA fans? Whenever I catch a glimpse of Joe Cox, brrrrr, he makes me shudder. FUG.

GA sucks, GA fans suck & UGA will always blow because their fans are WAY more obsessed with HATING other teams than following their own.

chris phillips

October 22nd, 2009
2:33 pm

This problem will not be arrested until college football ends the madness of every call being reviewable. Rather than hold officials accountable, reviewing calls actually buffers them from getting them right on the field. The pro system in some form needs to be adopted, allowing coaches limited numbers of challenges to calls they believe are wrong, INCLUDING PENALTIES.


October 22nd, 2009
2:50 pm

Kim–lol..thank you & Chris-AMEN!!! I agree whole heartedly

FL dawg

October 22nd, 2009
2:56 pm

Born in GA, and now living in Fl i am sick and tired of the FL bull that goes on game after game. Yes they are a good team maybe even the best, but the best will lose eventually, and when they do we need to let them and celebrate with the victors, but this season this hasn’t been aloowed to happen thanks to a group of referee’s, that incedently before being suspended where scheduled to ref the FL-GA game on the 31st. I also cannot understand for the life of me how they can allow a ref that graduated from a rival school to ref a game. Not to start anything against Gtech, but someone that graduates from there is not going to have any respect for the University of Georgia, and to let a Yellow Jacket ref the Dawgs Game is blatently disrespectfull to the U of Georgia. There needs to be better standards


October 22nd, 2009
3:11 pm

Born in FL, and now living in GA, I’m tired of GA always complaining about how they’re getting the tough end of everything. It’s always, we’ve got a tough schedule, we don’t have a good offensive coordinator(couple years back), we don’t have a good enough quarterback, now it’s the ref. COME ON ALREADY!!!!!! I have HUGE respect for the SEC, and when my team doesn’t play up to par, I say it. did florida deserve to win that game against arkansas? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Was it unfair? ABSOLUTELY. but we can’t change a thing. But you won’t see me sitting making excuses for tebow’s concussion or we our starting LB was out…come on..quit making excuses and own up to the fact that georgia is not playing well..plain and simple. I am married to UGA graduate and it’s complete nonsense that some of you think there is this big conspiracy against GA….ludicrous


October 22nd, 2009
3:15 pm

Also, let me go ahead and say this..I’m happy w/the SEC suspending those guys, personally I think it should be w/o pay but I’m sure it’s not. But you can’t discriminate on someone’s school when you hire them to ref a game. That’s like working for Coca-Cola and not hiring someone b/c they came from the Pepsi Co. It’s just plain and simple discrimination. Six years back the ACC had a ref that SEC graduate..nothing was said, and I’m positive bad calls were made. ITS SPORTS…almost EVERY game that I watch rather it be college ball, pro ball, baseball, basketball, hockey..there’s always bad calls. Sucks, but it’s true.

FL dawg

October 22nd, 2009
3:54 pm

you can say that Fl fands dont cry about things like that but its only cause there winning the second they lose a game or have a bad season they have more excuses then grass blades on their football feild, its every team cause everyone is a die hard and no one likes to see there team lose im not complaining about the refs call or making excuses GA didnt do Enough to Beat LSU but i will say that two time in my life have i watched a game and felt like the refs chose who won, the ARK FL game and the TN FL a few years back and both time FL came out on top. it not that im even a fl hater i pull for every SEC team week in and week out, but i am getting tired of every one in the media having their heads up FL’s asses its insane how they can cover the sec on ESPN and in an hour spend 40 Minutes on just FL and 20 on the other 11 teams, and FL has not even been tested too much and when they have they have just barely squeaked by. LSU by 10 TN by 10 and now ARK by 3, the only time Fl has looked good was against a subpar Kentucky team. If your tired of hearing this then dont go on a GA blog your asking for it. the point i was trying to make is it isnt right would you like it if FSU graduates refed the FL games? i mean it just doensnt make since there are enough refs that that shouldnt be happening. Will they intentianally ruin a game for the other team, no not purposely but subconsciously they might.


October 22nd, 2009
4:12 pm

Well, refs determining the outcome of football games. Seems like a repeat of boxing where the same thing ocurred and boxing hasn’t come back. It is out in the open now, question is, what is going to be done about it?


October 22nd, 2009
4:30 pm

(THIS IS JILLIAN)-FL DAWG–you stand corrected. Just b/c you’re a die hard fan doesn’t mean u can make excuses for ur team. Being a die hard fan takes the wins with the losses. When we won BCS in 2006 and came back and had less than a subpar team in 2007..nobody was whining, we knew we sucked it up. At some point you’ve got to accept your team isn’t playing to it’s capabilities and quit making excuses with them. Just like a parent, 40yr old son murders someone, the parent can’t say well if that guy wouldn’t have cut him off in traffic..can’t make excuses for everyone, all the time no matter how much you love them. SECOND of all…….last I checked this was a free country, and I can go on whatever blog I so chose and type whatever I so want, it’s called freedom of speech, I love the SEC, and I’m married to a die hard Georgia fan, and live in the heart of Atlanta. But just b/c this is a georgia blog and I’m a florida fan doesn’t mean I can’t enter a georgia blog, again ludicrous. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I do think that the refs made a bad call and yes we should have lost that game, and no we’re not the best in the country, but the media is more consumed by USC than UF ANYDAY….yes, we get a lot of coverage, we’re on top, that’s what happens when you’re on top. One day when you guys get a coach with some balls and a good offensive coordinator you’ll be there to know how it feels. Worst reffed game in years??? Auburn vs Alabama..but again my opinion..but FL/AR right up there. Also, there has been FSU graduate ref FL games before….and FL lost…nobody blamed the reff’s then..again with the blaming..getting old.


October 23rd, 2009
1:50 pm

I’ve said to my wife for the past three years that the officiating that UF gets is garnered towards their success, often at the expense of whoever they are playing that day. They are also poll darlings. In no way should UF still be ranked at No. 1 in any poll after that Arkansas game.

Judd Wright

October 23rd, 2009
5:46 pm

Loved reading this website. I was wondering how we can get the schedule of this crew’s games the past several years. There are sevral times whn Florida or Alabama have been in close games only to have possible this crew cheat for them.



October 24th, 2009
7:35 pm

SEC officials………….now three weeks in a row. How do you miss Mt. Cody taking his helmet off on a live play?? Any Pop Warner officials need an extra job?


October 26th, 2009
2:48 pm

What about that ‘touchdown’ Florida got, when replay showed that the receiver clearly fumbled on about the 1 foot line! After seeing that, I’m buying into the conspiracy theory. Either they want like hell to see Fl Vs ALA in the SEC championship as No1 and No2, or these guys are making money off of these games!

[...] SEC Officiating Sinks to New Low [...]

I ain't de judge

October 31st, 2009
1:02 pm

Like many of you, I love SEC football. But, all the hooha over officiating errors lends to blaming instead of just accepting the fact that officials will make errors from time to time. A friend of mine is an SEC official. In addition to having SEC experience as a player and graduate the guy has a pedigree of personal accomplishments that I’d put up against anyone’s, regardless of profession. He’s a family man, a productive executive, a solid man of faith and a lover of football. He doesn’t call games for the money but for the love of the game. He has told me, he is fine with someone questioning his call(s) but to attack the integrity of officials is a much deeper issue. It’s the judgement to the extent of attack.
It’s just not right and we should, as people of the greatest conference in the country, should be of a higher standard. Yes, they are officials and take on great responsibility in doing that, but they are people first and last.

On Mike Slive - VolNation

November 5th, 2009
2:47 pm

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LSU Fanatic 169

November 8th, 2009
2:00 pm

After This weekends matchup between LSU and ALABAMA, It has become quite apparent that SEC Officiating has stooped to an all new low. The LSU interception for one changed the outcome of the game. I have decided after 25 years that I am no longer watching college football. It is a waste of time.