I wish I could have written Saturday about how Alabama receiver
I wish I could have written about how LSU cornerback
Instead, I have to write about the SEC officials. Again.
Because when officials went to the video with 5:54 remaining in Alabama's 24-15 win to determine whether Peterson intercepted McElroy along the right sideline, the replay official didn't see what most impartial eyes watching at home saw: Peterson got his left foot down with possession. He may have even gotten his right foot down. Officials on the field ruled Patterson caught the ball out of bounds. After a few minutes, replay official Ger
Let's get one thing straight. The play didn't decide the game. Yes, LSU would have gotten the ball down six instead of down nine 2 minutes and 50 seconds later, but there's no guarantee backup quarterback
But we should be comfortable in knowing that correct calls led to a result that will stand forever. A result, mind you, that allowed Alabama to clinch the SEC West title and set up a showdown with Florida in Atlanta on Dec. 5. That's the problem with all the SEC officiating hijinks this season: Now we don't know. Now we can't be sure the best team won, because we know both teams didn't get a fair shot. Saturday's disputed call was as unfair to Alabama as it was to LSU, because a tiny seed of doubt has now planted itself in the minds of all but the most fervent Alabama supporters.
Had the call gone the other way, it would have been just as unfair, but it wouldn't have given the tinfoil-hat crowd the ammunition this one did. The SEC is under even more scrutiny this season because of its 15-year contracts with CBS and ESPN that will pay the league $3 billion. Fans of other conferences are convinced the SEC will do anything to keep teams undefeated so one SEC team will play in the BCS title game. That isn't true. The officials work hard and do their level-best to make the correct calls. Unfortunately for the SEC, every major disputed call this season has gone in favor of an undefeated team.
LSU got the first one on Oct. 3, when Georgia receiver
Two weeks later, Arkansas threatened to knock Florida from the ranks of the unbeaten. The same crew that worked the LSU-Georgia game worked that game, and in the fourth quarter, with Florida down 20-13, referee
The following week, Tennessee visited undefeated Alabama. Crimson Tide defensive tackle
Naturally, the aggrieved coaches complained about the bad calls. They complained so much that Slive on Oct. 30 instituted a zero-tolerance policy. The next coach to complain would be fined or suspended. That coach was Florida's
"I believe the officials work hard and make as good a quality of a call as they can," Miles said. "The difficult issue that I have is telling my team. That's the issue. The issue is telling Patrick Peterson, who, in his mind, knows it was an interception. If it's the right call, it's easy. But that's the difficult issue."
Peterson certainly believes he intercepted the pass. "When I caught the ball, I tried to get two feet in. I believe I got two feet in," Peterson said. "Definitely, the foot mark was left on the field. Not even on the white. It was on the green."
After interviewing Peterson, I returned to the field, where I snapped a few photos of a small gash in the field between the 31- and 32-yard lines. A video replay confirmed this was the same spot where Peterson caught McElroy's pass. There is no way to confirm that Peterson's foot made the mark; it could have been made at any point during the game. But judging by video replays, Peterson's left foot -- which landed first -- would have made an identical mark on the disputed play.
But the call stood. LSU lost. Alabama won.
The worst part isn't the mistake. "We're all human," LSU linebacker
I've spent 1,000 words writing about this call. I wish I could have written about the brilliance of Alabama tailback
But I couldn't. Because the disputed call is all anyone will want to talk about this week.