It&8217;s Official: LSU-Auburn call still not clear

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2006

I had expected to have an answer from the Southeastern Conference Supervisor of Football Officials by this time explaining the wave-off of the defensive pass interference call in the LSU-Auburn game last week.

After I wrote last week&8217;s column in which I implied that the SEC had admitted that the officials had erred in their ruling in that game, I found an article in which the Supervisor of Officials said that the officiating crew was correct when they overturned the interference call against Auburn, ruling that the pass had become uncatchable because it had been tipped by an Auburn player. It is certainly true that, had the ball been tipped prior to the interference violation, there would have been no penalty.

As far as I know, nobody has questioned that the ball was tipped after the interference took place. Under the reasoning that the tipping had made the pass uncatchable, that same reasoning would result in many intercepted passes being allowed, even after the defender had obviously interfered with the receiver prior to the interception. It seems that an interception in that case would obviously create an uncatchable situation.

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I am sure the SEC has a logical explanation for the wave-off, but I can find nothing in the NCAA Rule Book, in the Approved Rulings, or in the Official&8217;s Study Guide that sheds any light on the LSU-Auburn play. As for now, I remain curious about the reasoning for the call coming as it did. One can&8217;t say that ruling cost LSU that game, but it did wipe out perhaps their best chance to win.

As far as I can tell, the NCAA replay system is working as designed thus far. That is not to say that all replay results have been met with universal approval. Most announcers, many fans and a lot of coaches stay convinced they had a better view of any controversial play than did the replay official with his instant look at each play from nine views.

I have not heard this from coaches, but most announcers seem to think that all officials assigned for intersectional games should come from neutral conferences. That idea has some merit.

Bowl game officials have been assigned from neutral associations or conferences for years, going back to at least the middle of the 1970s. The NCAA does not make the assignments, but merely determines which conference or assigning group will send officials to each bowl. During the regular season, normally the visiting team&8217;s conference will assign a crew for an intersectional game. The replay crew will usually travel with the officiating crew. I did note that the crew of officials which worked last week&8217;s Oklahoma-Oregon game, including the replay officials, were assigned by the PAC-10 Conference, which was the home team&8217;s conference. It is widely known that there were several bad calls in the game, which likely cost Oklahoma the game. To their credit, the PAC-10 accepted blame and suspended the officiating crew, including the replay people, for a couple of games.

And, that&8217;s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. He can be reached by e-mail at