The zebras got it right

September 18th, 2006

2005.09.01-19.26.59/au-logo.jpgIn Saturday’s big game, the referees seemed to spend more time than usual huddled up to discuss a call, or standing around waiting for an instant replay review. It seemed to me at the time that several of these calls were incorrect and in our favor. Never had the refs been so kind to Auburn. Particularly crucial were two pass intereference calls. In one, LSU was flagged for interfering with AU receiver Courtney Taylor. In the other, Auburn back Zach Gibson was called for interfering with LSU receiver Early Doucet, but the flag was waived off because AU back tipped the ball away at the last second. The latter call would have given LSU first-and-ten at Auburn’s 16 yard line; instead it went as a turnover on downs, and may well have prevented a touchdown.

Even before the first roll of toilet paper went up into the big oaks at Toomer’s Corner, the LSU fans started griping and whining. Here’s what one fan wrote to Dandy Don’s LSU Recruiting News site:

I have never seen such poor and lopsided officiating before in a game. The key is that the officiating was NOT poor all around, but poor when it came to LSU gaining some momentum and good for Auburn when they needed it. I could even somewhat understand the official missing the late hit calls, but to miss the call on our interception ruled back for interference, the obvious interference on LaFell in the endzone, the Auburn fumble that was not ruled a fumble and then the game-impacting call and then “no-call” on Doucet. How in the world can a team win with all of that against them? I do believe that if those terrible calls did not take place we would have won despite some poor performances on our part.

(The same writer later added

I can not stand Auburn.

Well, congratulations to you too. That’s real classy of you!)

LSU head coach Les Miles did not blame his team’s loss on the referees, thus demonstrating more maturity than some of his fans, but did say that he would be sending tapes of the calls to the SEC’s officiating office for review. That review is now complete, and guess what?

The referees got it right. Regarding the call on Doucet:

SEC coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Monday the call was correct because the pass was made uncatchable, making the timing of the contact irrelevant.

Auburn defensive back Zach Gilbert was flagged for interfering with receiver Early Doucet deep in its own territory in the 7-3 win over No. 6 LSU. The flag was waved off because officials deemed that Eric Brock’s tip of the ball made it uncatchable.

Redding said pass interference can be called if the ball is tipped after the contact occurs, as it appeared to on the play.

However, he said, “it was more than a tip, it was a deflection of the ball so it made the ball uncatchable. A key part of the pass interference rule is whether or not the pass is uncatchable.”

Of the call on Courtney Taylor, the SEC office said:

An LSU interception on third-and-29 was negated because Daniel Francis was penalized for interference on receiver Courtney Taylor, giving Auburn an automatic first down.

“The defender just basically ran through the receiver,” Redding said. “He wasn’t playing the ball. The ball was definitely catchable.”

LSU coach Les Miles had complained after the game about both decisions, saying the interference on Taylor “didn’t disable him from catching the ball.”

Somehow I doubt these explanations will satisfy the crowd down it Baton Rouge, but perhaps now they’ll direct more of their complaints at coach Miles or QB JaMarcus Russell.

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