OPINION: SEC officiating needs to be addressed

BILOXI, Miss. — An open letter to Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and the man with the, uh, plan in Birmingham:

Yo, Mike, what’s happening.

I know, I know, it’s been a tough few days. A tough few weeks. One long day in the office after another. I know the feeling.

That’s why they pay you the big bucks.

That’s why they pay me, um, never mind.

I wasn’t able to catch the colossal clash between LSU and Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Found out later the third-ranked Crimson Tide survived in The House That Bear Built. Found out later that Alabama’s Julio Jones made a big play in the fourth quarter and that the Tigahs lost their splendid running back, Charles Scott, for at least the rest of the regular season with a broken collarbone.

Found out later that CBS has its dream matchup in the SEC championship game, and that the top two teams in the Bowl Championship Series, No. 1-ranked Florida and Alabama, will be playing in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 5, with the winner likely to play for the BCS national championship.

Found out later that, uh, we had a little controversy in Tuscaloosa. That LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson appeared to make an interception on the sideline that could have stopped an Alabama drive in the fourth quarter, only for the officials to miss the call. What’s worse, of course, is that the replay guy in the booth failed to overturn it.

Heard they got so mad in Baton Rouge that angry LSU fans swamped the newspaper with phone calls and they were told to write their congressman, lodge a complaint with the SEC office or stage a latter-day Storming of the Bastille, whatever came first.

A friend picked me up at the airport on Tuesday and all she could talk about was how the Tigahs got hosed.

She had evidence at the ready on her home computer, and I gotta tell ya, Mike, she had a pretty compelling case.

“I know I was in,” Peterson said.

Mr. Commish, I know the conspiracy theorists are convinced the league office is in on this thing, and they’re basically certain that it was pretty much predetermined that Florida and Alabama get to the ATL, once they’d both won three or four league games and we didn’t have to wade through the Crimson Tide’s scheduled shellacking of the Mocs of Tennessee-Chattanooga or the Gatahs’ gorefest with Florida International at The Swamp.

I’m not buyin’ it either, Mr. Slive, but you were the one who announced that the guys in the stripes dropped the ball when they flagged a couple of dudes for “excessive celebration” when they did nothing but exult in their feats in Athens. LSU was unbeaten at the time and about to lock horns with Florida in Red Stick.

The more undefeated teams, the better, as far as the TV ratings go.

Now, I know LSU was trailing at the time Peterson made the pick that wasn’t, and the Tigahs were going to have to put a potential winning drive together with backup quarterback Jarrett Lee in the saddle. That’s kinda like telling Donny & Marie that their future is in heavy metal.

Somebody told me that ESPN ran a poll on whether the fix was in, that the refs are instructed to make sure the Clash of the Unbeatens happens in Atlanta, and only three states said everything was on the up and up:

Florida, Alabama and Cuba.

I’m not sure what to think, Mike, but I haven’t seen this much smoke since Cheech and Chong went on their reunion tour. There’s gotta be some fire somewhere.

You can batten down the hatches all you want, but you’ve got a problem on your hands. Address it. Now.

See ya,

Samauri Jim

Jim Mashek is a sports writer for The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi.

Jim Mashek/The Sun Herald (MCT)