The Tennessee Vols are intimately aware of the ups and downs of SEC officiating.
Tennessee has been on both sides of horribly bad calls (though Vol fans will certainly argue that UT has mostly been on the wrong side of those calls….and I tend to agree).
Earlier this season, a particularly egregious call possibly cost the Volunteers a win against Ole Miss.
Tennessee defenders had Rebels quarterback Matt Corral wrapped up, forced a fumble and Tyler Baron returned it for a touchdown.
Officials huddled after letting the action on the field play out. It was then deemed that Corral’s forward progress had been stopped. Instead of a fumble returned for a touchdown, it was called a sack.
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) October 19, 2021
If forward progress is considered to be stopped (which is completely subjective), play is stopped. The Ole Miss situation was strange because officials let the play go (you can see the referees running down the field with Baron), before deciding after the play to say that forward progress had been stopped (which it clearly wasn’t in the video clip above).
10 years ago, the same officiating crew screwed up a similar call — except 10 years ago the call actually went in the Vols’ favor.
In a 2011 matchup against Vanderbilt, Vols defensive back Eric Gordon intercepted Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers in overtime. Gordon returned the interception 90 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
10 years ago today: Tennessee beats Vandy 27-21 in OT after Eric Gordon intercepts Jordan Rodgers and returns it 90 yards for the game winning TD pic.twitter.com/tlOs0iP50o
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) November 19, 2021
The play technically should not have counted. Officials thought they saw Gordon’s knee hit the ground and blew the whistle (which you can hear in the video above). Gordon’s knee clearly wasn’t down, but the whistle meant the play couldn’t be reviewed.
Head referee Marc Curles, who also was the head referee in the Vols’ loss to Ole Miss earlier this season, initially said that Gordon’s knee was down and the play was blown dead. Curles explained that Tennessee would get the ball on the Vanderbilt 25 with a chance to win the game in overtime.
Curles then came back and said that the play hadn’t been blown dead, which allowed the play to be reviewed.
After the game, the SEC issued a statement that said the officiating crew got the call wrong.
“On the last play of the Vanderbilt-Tennessee game, in overtime, the Tennessee defender intercepted the pass, his knee did not touch the ground and he returned the interception for a touchdown. During the play, the head linesman incorrectly ruled that the Tennessee player’s knee was down when he intercepted the pass by blowing his whistle and giving the dead ball signal. The play was reviewed as if there was no whistle on the field, and as a result, overturned the incorrect ruling. By rule, if there was a whistle blown, the play is not reviewable.”
It’s no wonder SEC fans don’t trust SEC officiating. The same crew has been making critical mistakes that have possibly changed the outcome of games for at least a decade.
That’s completely unacceptable.
Featured image via Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK