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ACCOUNTABILITY: It's time to hold the SEC accountable for officiating

By: Aaron Gibson

Junior Staff Writer

The All Vol Call in Show


Photo | Sports Ilustrated

Alabama's defense has only allowed a total of three points in the second half of their last three games. I must give them credit for their strong performance. However, it's clear that they have benefited from a more than generous officiating crew.

This season, Alabama has averaged seven penalties per game. In their games against Texas A&M and Arkansas, they had 14 penalties for 99 yards and five penalties for 45 yards, respectively. So, are we expected to believe that against Tennessee, Alabama magically had only one penalty for five yards throughout the entire game? It's extremely difficult for me to accept that. To be fair, Tennessee's struggles in the second half, conservative play-calling, and a decision to go for a fourth and short at midfield in the third quarter didn't help their cause. Nevertheless, it was evident to everyone that the officials favored Alabama.

Regarding the current trends, Alabama ranks 126th out of 133 Division 1 teams in terms of the number of sacks they have given up, while Tennessee ranks third in the NCAA in how frequently they have sacked opposing quarterbacks this year. So, are we supposed to believe that Alabama didn't hold on 1 single play against statistically the third best defensive line in all of college football? I find it hard to believe.

What actions will be taken to address this situation that was witnessed by millions on live television? It is doubtful that anything will be done, especially if the commissioner is affiliated with one of the schools in the league. It seems that as long as you have a commissioner from one of the schools in your league, nothing will be done, especially if the calls benefited his school. Interestingly enough, out of the Power 5 conferences, only the SEC has a commissioner who

graduated from one of the schools in their conference. I'm not one for conspiracy theories or connecting dots that aren't there, but the optics certainly look bad. Unless something is done about the terrible officiating, they will continue to reign supreme in consequential games.

According to, "All SEC officials are held accountable for their overall body of work and the work of their crew, which is reviewed on a weekly and annual basis. Every call by each official during every game is analyzed by a team of experienced position evaluators, both in-game and through post-game

video evaluations." If every call by each official during every game is analyzed by a team of experienced position evaluators, why are there never any repercussions for blatantly incorrect calls? The same officiating crew, consisting of head official Ken Williamson, also officiated the controversial Tennessee versus Ole Miss game in 2021. During that game, they blew a whistle and declared a play dead when Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral fumbled the football after an unexpected hit. The fumble was subsequently picked up by Tyler Barron, who ran into the end zone. Tennessee ended up losing the game 31-26.

The last time a crew was suspended or publicly reprimanded by the SEC was in 2009 when Marc Curles' crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter. As a result, the crew was publicly reprimanded and suspended from their December 31st assignment. They had to wait until November 14th for their next assignment. Regarding the repercussions for the current crew, it is uncertain.

Unfortunately, there may be no repercussions at all. The SEC should issue a statement, face tough questions, or take some action to offer accountability for something as blatantly obvious as Saturday's game. If I were Danny White, I would have a long phone call with Mr. Sankey to question him and ensure that something as blatant as Saturday never happens again. Whether it's incompetence or bias, the officials evidently are unable to perform their jobs efficiently. Given his past history, Ken Williamson should never officiate another Tennessee game again.


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