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Staples_andy2
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The victim didn't get flagged for this tackle. :AP

The Florida-Arkansas game wasn't fixed by the officials. Let's get that straight right now. That still doesn't excuse the crew for making one of the worst calls in the history of modern football or the SEC for not publicly announcing whether the crew or any of its members were punished in any way for their role in a miscarriage of justice against Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard.

We'll skip the discussion of whether Razorbacks cornerback Ramon Broadway committed pass interference against Deonte Thompson on the play before the Sheppard call. That call probably helped Florida's game-tying drive more, but a great shot by the CBS cameraman lends plenty of evidence to both sides of the argument. Chances are, your opinion of that call depends more on which team you like less.

The same can't be said for the call on Sheppard. Apparently, at least one official on referee Marc Curles' crew thinks a clean hit on a player who is about to block another player during a play constitutes a personal foul. I wasn't at the game, and the replays don't show which official flagged Sheppard. That's where the SEC office should step in. Just as referee Marc Curles announced Sheppard as the offending player, SEC director of officials Rogers Redding should publicly name the official who affected a tight game by throwing a flag even a Pop Warner ref wouldn't throw. SEC officials aren't paid a fortune for their efforts, but neither are SEC players, whose scholarships pale in comparison to the money they bring to the athletic department. If the players are subject to public scrutiny, the officials should be subject to equal scrutiny.

Would a correct no-call have kept Florida from scoring? Who knows? But at least the SEC wouldn't have the specter of doubt hanging overhead. Coaches Bobby Petrino and Urban Meyer got publicly questioned for their mistakes in the game. So did quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow. If I make a mistake writing about this topic, you'll blast me in the comments section. The SEC could earn a lot more trust if, instead of issuing a toothless mea culpa, it announced that [insert official's name here] made a mistake, and he has been sentenced to [a one-game suspension, a four-hour rules refresher course, etc.]. As it stands, we'll have to check the SEC box scores this week to see if one or more members of Curles' crew stayed home for the weekend.

 

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