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An Open Letter To The Southeastern Conference Officials

To Southeastern Conference Coordinator of Officials John McDaid and all of his subordinates:

I was looking forward to finding out what the Georgia Bulldogs football team could do against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night. Thanks to the crew that worked the game in Tuscaloosa tonight, I still do not know.

Alabama is certainly an excellent football team, and for most of the first half the Georgia Bulldogs were allowed to play them tough. Then the following happened...

  • With Alabama facing a 3rd & 19 after an intentional grounding penalty and a short gain, Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes was called for a defensive hold on a catch by an Alabama wide-receiver who was well short of the first-down marker. The play did not provide any competitive advantage to Stokes or his team, and the penalty that was called was for normal play between a defensive-back and a wide-receiver. That penalty gave Alabama a first-down, and allowed them to eventually kick a field-goal. That changed the game.
  • On the last drive of the first-half, Alabama spiked the ball after time had run out. The play was reviewed, and time put back on the clock. First of all, the clock was at zero when the ball hit the ground. Perhaps the ruling was that the clock had started too soon after the previous play. I do not know. What I do know is that Alabama’s LG was not set when the spike happened. The play should have been ruled as a false-start, and a five-yard penalty plus a mandatory ten-second runoff should have been called. That should have ended the half with Georgia leading 24-17. Instead, the score was 24-20. While that review was happening, I saw something I have never seen before... A staffer from a team talking to an official during a review. Why is a representative from the University of Alabama allowed to talk to a supposed neutral party official while he reviews a crucial play in the game?
  • With Alabama up by 3 and driving following a Georgia interception, an official called pass interference on Eric Stokes after an incomplete pass on 3rd and 9. Stokes never put his hands on the wide-receiver, turned around to try and play the ball and basically just held his ground as Devonta Smith ran out of bounds. Does a defender not have a right to hold their own space?

There were other questionable calls I have not listed, but that particular 3rd-down call allowed Alabama to score a touchdown instead of kicking a field-goal, making it a ten point game instead of a six point game. Facing a high-powered offense and down two possessions, the game was basically over at that point, as Georgia could not run their own offense.

Georgia might have lost the game either way, but we will never know because the officials dictated the outcome of the game. The fact that the referee crew felt the need to review a clear touchdown catch by Jermaine Burton in the second-quarter while not reviewing a questionable catch by an Alabama wide-receiver on a third quarter spoke volumes about the agenda they held on the evening.

A common refrain among SEC fans watching Alabama football games is “the checks come out of Birmingham.” As a conference with a product that is worth billions of dollars in revenue, it should bother you that people consistently wonder if the integrity of SEC Football games is corrupted by bias.

I understand that the conference’s officials are humans who are bound to make human errors from time to time, but if it was just incompetence at play then the results of that incompetence would not always favor teams from the state of Alabama.

Nobody is asking for the SEC officials to do anything unfair towards any team. I am simply asking that you for once call a game fairly towards both sides involved.

Georgia may or may not be able to beat Alabama during a fairly called game. I would love to watch that game and find out.

They will never, ever beat the Alabama and a crew full of conference officials who are actively working against them.

Your product has become a joke,

Graham Coffey