The Southeastern Conference backed replay official Doyle Jackson Monday afternoon, saying he made the right call in overruling an Ole Miss pass reception late in the Rebels’ football game against Alabama.
“I watched it this morning and I saw what (Jackson) saw,” said SEC Coordinator of Officials Rogers Redding. “I'm perfectly good with the ruling.”
But Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron and Athletic Director Pete Boone disagreed Monday, during a morning press conference, saying there was no indisputable evidence to overrule the call.
Jackson’s decision was pivotal in Alabama preserving a 27-24 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“I’m sick,” Orgeron said. “But I have to deal with it. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s very, very unfair. It’s not about me, it’s about my team. We should have been allowed to play those last seven seconds and let the best team win.”
The controversy surrounds a fourth-down circus catch made by Ole Miss Receiver Shay Hodge at the Alabama 4-yard line with 7 seconds remaining in the game. The official on the field ruled it a catch, but after a lengthy delay, the call was overturned by Jackson.
After the game, the SEC released a statement on Jackson’s decision.
"In the judgment of the replay official, Doyle Jackson, (Hodge) stepped out of bounds on his own (making him an ineligible receiver). Also, the replay official ruled (Hodge) touched the football first, thereby making it an illegal touch.”
Redding said that on the replays he viewed on Monday, it was clear that Hodge was not forced out of bounds on the play. Redding said there were two views of who touched the ball first — one showed Hodge touching the ball first while the other showed both receivers touching it at the same time. No replay showed Alabama cornerback Lionel Mitchell, who was defending on the play, touching the ball first.
But after viewing the replay with tapes obtained from the Ole Miss film crew, Orgeron said he felt the call should have never been overturned because there wasn’t indisputable evidence.
The NCAA football rules manual states that “In order to reverse an on-field ruling, the replay official must see indisputable video evidence through one or more video replays provided to the monitor.”
Orgeron said he felt Hodge was forced out of bounds by Alabama defender Lionel Mitchell and that Mitchell touched the ball before Hodge. At the very least, Orgeron said that neither judgment was indisputable.
When the play was overturned, angry Ole Miss fans littered the field with bottles and cups, leading to three arrests for disorderly conduct and this comment from Alabama coach Nick Saban to the Associated Press: “There is no class in that. I just want our players to represent the university with class. If (Ole Miss fans) want to be classless, that's their business.”
Boone responded that Saban was quick to find fault with the Ole Miss fans when Alabama fans have done the same things in the past.
“I’m not really sure it’s some other coach that ought to be talking about our fans,” Boone said. “And I kind of resented that.”
Boone said he realized that there was no changing the outcome of the game, but that “It’s important, I think, for us to stick up (for ourselves) in situations like this.”