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Monday, September 20, 2004
If you watched the Tennessee vs. Florida football game on Saturday night, you saw a dandy. However, in the aftermath, a lot of the attention has been focused on the personal foul call and subsequent play clock stoppage that gave the Vols some extra time, and 15 yards of field position.
The Southeastern Conference’s supervisor of officials said Sunday the crew working the Tennessee-Florida game erred in handling the clock, allowing the Volunteers more time on their final drive, which ended with a game-winning field goal.
The mistake occurred when Florida receiver Dallas Baker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after DeShawn Wynn was stopped on a third-down run with 55 seconds left in the game, with the Gators leading 28-27 Saturday night.
After the penalty, the officials placed the ball on the ground and began running the clock on the snap for Florida’s fourth-down punt.
Bobby Gaston, the SEC supervisor of officials, said because it was a running play, the clock should have started on the “ready” — when the referee winds his arm — and not the snap.
“We left it to start on the snap when we should have started it on the wind,” Gaston told The Associated Press on Sunday night. “If there’s a penalty, you always go back to the result of the previous play, which was a run.”
Suffice it to say that the Gators have a case about the call. However, let me make several points:
Had the Florida kicker not missed a chip shot field goal earlier in the game, the Vols would have had to score a TD.
Had Dallas Baker been more focused on the game instead of "defending his manhood", he would have pointed to the scoreboard and walked away.
Had the Gators' defensive backs figured out how to defend a crossing pattern, the Vols wouldn't have moved down the field into field goal range in the first place.
In other words, there are lots of variables here, and blaming an official for a questionable call changes nothing. To be honest, neither team deserved a loss, as it was a terrific game between two quality football teams. But, someone did lose, and it wasn't because of a yellow flag.
An aside: Some call this game poetic justice (see TN/FL, 2000). Perhaps.
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