Undoubtedly the most controversial call – or, more accurately, non-call – of Saturday’s action was the fourth-and-seven play in the first overtime of Florida’s defeat of the Kentucky, where the officials allowed the play clock to hit zero without flagging the Gators for a delay of game penalty.
Rather than facing a fourth-and-12 with the game on the line, Florida ran the play, and Jeff Driskel hit Demarcus Robinson for a game-extending touchdown. The Gators would go on to win the contest 36-30 in triple overtime.
See for yourself below:
— SEC Sports Talk (@SEC_SportsTalk) September 14, 2014
The SEC reviewed the play and, in a statement released on Sunday, found nothing wrong with back judge Scott Vaughan’s decision making:
“At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called,” the league said.
When reading an explanation like that, the protocol makes sense. Football is not basketball, where buzzers and red lights can notify officials and everyone inside an arena when the clock has expired. Without the ability to watch the play clock and the ball simultaneously, giving the center those fractions of a second it takes the back judge to alter his gaze from the play clock to the ball to snap the ball makes sense.
If I’m Mark Stoops today, my real frustration is the policy that a potential play clock violation is somehow not reviewable. If millions of dopes on Twitter can see a play did not get off in time, a replay official can as well.