No, itâ€™s not what youâ€™re thinking. The Pac 10 is actually quite terrible this year outside of USC. No, the Pac 10 conference office got it right by suspending the entire officiating crew including replay officials for the debacle versus Oklahoma.
On the other hand, the SEC office claims that the calls made in the LSU vs. Auburn game were the correct calls. However, anyone who witnessed the game including virtually everyone working for CBS acknowledged that the waive-off of the pass interference call was incorrect. The office didnâ€™t express an opinion on a handful of other calls, which were questionable at best.
The series of questionable calls all going against LSU included the following:
1 – Jacob Hestor catches the ball, turns his body, takes a step, and halfway through his second step has the ball knocked out. The ball rolls out of bounds. Ruling â€“ completion fumbled out of bounds â€“ later overturned by the replay booth and ruled an incomplete pass. Reality â€“ this was a fourth down play that would have given the Tigers a first down inside Auburnâ€™s red zone. He clearly had possession but to over-rule the on the field call is egregious.
2 â€“ David Irons wraps his arms around LSUâ€™s Brandon Lafell, who was standing in the end zone waiting for a pass. Ruling â€“ no flag. Reality â€“ BOTH Lafellâ€™s arms were pinned at his sides and the pass bounces harmlessly off Lafellâ€™s chest â€“ an obvious penalty.
3 â€“ This call didnâ€™t have material impact since Auburnâ€™s Vaughn went on to miss another field goal; however, it is quite ironic given ruling #1 above. Auburn WR â€œcatchesâ€? the ball near his leg. LSUâ€™s Landry makes contact as the ball arrives. Auburn WR falls to the ground as ball comes out. Ruling â€“ Miraculously this was ruled a catch. Reality â€“ If by some miracle, the Auburn WR had possession, which is doubtful as starting to fall on your ass doesnâ€™t constitute a football move, he did not maintain possession all the way to the ground. The ball was loose prior to his butt making contact. At best it was an incomplete pass; at worst it should have been a fumble and LSUâ€™s ball.
4 â€“ Early Doucet leaps into the air to catch a pass on 4th down late in the 4th quarter. Auburns DB grabs his legs. Ruling â€“ flag thrown for interference â€“ later waived off as no foul because the ball was tipped. Reality â€“ the foul unquestionably occurred before the ball was tipped. Would have given LSU first and 10 well inside the red zone. SEC office response â€“ call was correct because the tipped pass became uncatchable after the ball was tipped.
The game had numerous other questionable calls including a series of no calls on late hits, a holding call on an LSU tackle who was wearing a cast on the offending hand, and an interception overturned by a pass interference call on LSU (that one actually was probably the correct call but not if the same standard was applied as #4 above).
On #4, I wonâ€™t claim to know the NCAA rules inside and out. The explanation by the SEC officials seems both aloof and unlikely. I would love for someone with a greater understanding of the rules to comment; however, if blocking the ball out of the way can negate a pass interference call, wouldnâ€™t that change the way the game is played?
Despite the horribly bad calls and the unapologetic SEC officials, LSU still should have won the game and ultimately only have themselves to blame. LSU out-gained Auburn 311 to 182. Auburnâ€™s only real advantages were in the punting game and the rushing game on their scoring drive. LSUâ€™s defense was unbelievably dominant for the rest of the game. Russell looked very good except on the final two drives. A better pass would have made the interference issue a mute point, and on the last drive, had he not taken a sack, the Tigers would have had at least one shot at the end zone from inside the 10. Still, LSUâ€™s last two trips to Auburn have been marred by apparent â€œhome-cookingâ€?. In 2004, on the way to Auburnâ€™s undefeated season, in addition to at least two other suspect rulings on Auburnâ€™s final scoring drive, Auburn was given a second attempt after missing an extra point based on a dubious application of a little known and new rule. Again, LSU never should have been in that position anyway, but they had previously missed their own extra point making way for yet another questionable Auburn victory.