SEC's Officiating Morass Gets Deeper, But the Next Steps Are Simple, Not Nuclear

↵ This is a blown call. It's hard to see on the video, and not exactly obvious in the poorly-angled still shots, especially if each one was taken alone. But Dustin Doe did not cross the goal line with that football, and scored a phantom touchdown that put Florida up 29-13 and basically iced a game that ended 29-19. So Dan Mullen has a right to be mad. ↵

↵
↵⇥"I don't even know why we have replay right now in the Southeastern Conference if they're not going to utilize it," Mullen said Sunday.  ↵
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↵⇥"That's twice now that they've blown calls on the replay with our games, resulting in big plays, and I think that's unexcuable for that official. I hope he's severely punished if he ever works another SEC game again, because I think it's completely unacceptable."  ↵
↵
↵⇥Mullen said it was the second time a replay official has cost his team this season. He was referring to a penalty called against Mississippi State in a loss to Houston that looked as if the play would have been overturned had it been reviewed.  ↵
↵
↵⇥The coach and his staff watched film of Saturday's play after the game, then Mullen later watched the replay "all night" on television.  ↵
↵
↵⇥"There's no excuse for a guy who has the amount of time to replay the video to make sure they get the call right," Mullen said. "That's why we have instant replay and I think it's embarrassing that they blew that call. I've seen still shots of the ball out of his hand. I don't think that's acceptable on a guy that has the ability to watch all the different angles." ↵
↵

↵But that "unexcusable" call is just a product of some of the limitations of the current system. ↵

↵ ↵

↵The best angle of this moment in this play comes from that above still shot, which we know is available to the referee because whatever they see comes from television cameras. If ESPN didn't provide that in time (and, well, they did provide it, but the chronology is shaky), then there's no way to know if they provided it in time.  ↵

↵

↵They should, though, and that's an improvement worth making: Make sure all germane replay angles are provided to the officials with alacrity.  ↵

↵

↵How about some others?  ↵

↵

↵Goal-line cameras. Look, I have no idea how expensive it is to cover a college football game with the whole nine yards of cameras around. But with calls at or around the goal line swinging six points either way, this is too important not to do. Watching the Gators get a gifted six because of shaky camera work and then seeing the Saints rightly get forced to try for another touchdown after a Marques Colston fumble that was ruled as such because of a camera on the goal line convinced me of this: Two cameras and operators, on either side and end of the field, whose job it is to shoot straight up the line, are essential. ↵

↵

↵Hire the refs. CBS' Dennis Dodd has this one right, at least logically: If the part-timers who currently make up officiating crews are given more time to devote to preparation, they might just be more accurate. The money certainly exists for BCS conferences to take on a few more employees. ↵

↵

↵Make judgment calls reviewable, one per game. The idea that Malcolm Sheppard's personal foul late in Arkansas' loss to Florida can only be assessed by an official on the field is bunk of the highest order. Why not give coaches one challenge to a personal foul call -- with a win, call is reversed; loss and you lose a timeout -- to have referees consult with replay on sketchy pass interference flags or personal fouls that look questionable on the video boards? You add a second chance to get the call right, and make sure coaches cannot have free rein to challenge everything. ↵

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↵Revise excessive celebration. While unnecessary roughness is usually easy to discern on the field as anything that puts a player in danger, "excessive" celebration is far more relative. Does celebrating with other players constitute that? Does inciting the crowd, as Tim Tebow does after some first downs, constitute that? Let that penalty be a last resort for taunting that is clearly beyond the pale, then let players enjoy playing and winning their games. ↵

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↵Those aren't far off from the current protocols, and they wouldn't be too expensive. It would be easy for any conference to institute them fairly quickly, even in the middle of the season. ↵

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↵Or the SEC can just point at the few things it does get right and hope that everyone lauds the blind squirrel finding a nut. It'll be fun to see how many SEC fans forget that the squirrel is blind. ↵

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↵(Screengrab via Dr. Saturday.) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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