Mike Pereira is among the nation’s foremost experts on officiating. A former official and Vice President of Officiating for the NFL, Pereira is now an analyst for Fox Sports who breaks down officiating in both the NFL and college football.
One incident in last night’s Tennessee-Alabama game has drawn Pereira’s ire. It’s something he identified a few weeks ago and saw again in the first quarter in Neyland Stadium last night. Officials huddled after an Alabama fair catch in the first quarter and eventually called Tennessee lineman Dylan Wiesman for a personal foul that cost UT 15 yards. It wasn’t so much the call, but how the official got there that has Pereira upset. The refs appeared to be consulting some third party via radio, which is something that he claims happened in the Auburn-Mississippi State game two weeks ago.
Here’s an excerpt from his article, “SEC has lost almost all credibility in officiating:”
“This play clearly demonstrated it happened again. From the time the ball was snapped for the punt until a decision was made by referee Matt Moore, 2:36 elapsed. During that time, you could obviously see the group of officials that had huddled were getting input from someone. Someone, somewhere, was giving them information on the personal foul penalty that was called a dead-ball foul on the kicking team.
“What? Are you kidding me?
“Two weeks ago, I asked the national coordinator of officials, Rogers Redding, who also happens to be the former coordinator of officials for the SEC, about this and he vehemently denied this process was taking place. He said the communications system was only for use of the officials on the field and no other person was on that system.
That play ultimately didn’t have a strong effect on this game. Alabama did score on that drive, but it was a long field and that has to go more on Tennessee’s defense than the officials. And it wasn’t a bad call necessarily, just how the officials got the information.
But several questions have been raised about SEC officials this year.
Among the questionable other incidents this year include Florida, twice, getting what looked like an extra second on the play clock before critical plays against both Kentucky and Tennessee. The officials allowed Auburn to have two players wearing the No. 1 jersey on the field for their final play in a close game against South Carolina last night. We also documented the strong case of #Oklaholding that SEC officials allowed in the UT-Oklahoma game.
Butch Jones was upset with the officials after Alabama’s Amari Cooper went 80 yards on the first play last night.
“Actually, they ran a late substitution in,” Jones said when asked about it after the game. “This is a matching personnel game, and we felt play should have been held up a little bit. But, it didn’t work in that. So what happened was the nickel, based on where they aligned, was on the other side of the field.”
Jones was also frustrated after the Georgia game in September when the Bulldogs weren’t flagged for returning a punt after a fair catch, among other issues. In fairness to UT’s opponents, Tennessee’s gotten away with some blocks in the back and other issues.
Missed calls will always be part of the game, but the SEC is drawing pretty heavy fire when somebody like Pereira gets involved.