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Florida delay of game against Kentucky? SEC says refs followed protocol

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The Southeastern Conference backs the officiating crew's decision not to penalize Florida for delay of game.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Driskel's beautifully thrown fade route to Demarcus Robinson on fourth-and-7 saved Florida from the ignominy of losing to Kentucky at home for the first time since 1979, more than 10 years before Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was nicknamed "The Swamp." For a time, though, it seemed as though Driskel might not even get the play off in time to avoid a delay of game penalty -- and there are thousands of Wildcat fans who will likely go to their graves insisting that the Gators didn't. The Southeastern Conference, however, is backing the officiating crew's decision to let play continue. The SEC released the following statement on Sunday evening:

At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.

While the conference doesn't explicitly state that it agrees that the play clock had not run out, the statement at least acknowledges that the referees followed the rules and guidelines to the best of their abilities.

Here's a video of the play in question:

It's definitely close, and from this angle we don't have the best perspective on whether center Max Garcia has started moving the ball, as required by the rules. As Jesse Palmer notes during the replay, it certainly appears as though the ball is not snapped until the play clock has been at zero for about a fraction of a second. Although unfortunate for Kentucky fans, "fractions of a second" happens to be an amount of time that is barely perceptible to human beings, which is the kind of multicellular organism that all SEC referees are -- as far as we know.

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