OXFORD, Miss. — A little more than forty-eight hours after Ole Miss and Auburn faced off at Vaught-Hemingway, the Southeastern Conference has finally issued a statement admitting its officials were in error during a key play in the Tigers’ win over the Rebels.
Oh, and they fined head coach Lane Kiffin $25,000, too.
The league said Monday evening that Coach Kiffin was fined $25,000 for his Twitter retweet of a post critical of the officiating Saturday afternoon after the 35-28 Auburn victory. (Wonder if they’re monitoring his “likes” also?)
The league says its officials were in error when they did not stop play to examine replay of the kickoff return where Auburn’s return man Shaun Shivers clearly seemed to touch the ball before it made its way into the end zone where Ole Miss’ Tylan Knight fell on it.
At the time of the kickoff, Ole Miss led Auburn, 28-27. If the play in question had been reviewed and gone in favor of Coach Kiffin and his Rebels, the ensuing extra point would have given Ole Miss an eight-point lead with 5:43 to go in the game–and one would have to assume that it would have then given the Rebels a chance to force overtime when Auburn went on to score a touchdown with 1:11 remaining.
“The SEC has determined the replay official should have stopped the game for further review of the play,” the statement reads. “In the football officiating replay process every play is reviewed but, when appropriate, the game is stopped for further review. Because the play was not appropriately stopped for further review, the necessary slow-motion view of the play was not viewed by the replay official to determine if the ruling on the field should have been reversed.“
Southeastern Conference Statement
In Monday’s press conference, Coach Kiffin expressed frustration with both the events of the muffed kickoff and the explanation he received in a phone call with the league.
“I asked the side judge ‘Why aren’t they replaying it? Do I need to challenge?'” Kiffin explained in the press conference. “He said ‘They’ve already looked at it. There’s nothing there.’ I’m not allowed to say anything about the conversation but I really wish that our fans and players could hear what I was told.”
SEC Commissioner’s Regulation. Football. Officials. (SEC Bylaw 10.5)
Criticism of officials or the officiating program by institutional personnel is absolutely prohibited. Comments on officiating are to be directed only to the Conference office. All reports or comments pertaining to officiating or game management responsibilities, or concerning student-athletes, coaches or officials, shall be directed only to the Conference office. Public comments related to officiating by officials, coaches or institutional personnel are prohibited.
Kiffin, however, didn’t appear to be too upset about the fine, joking about it on Twitter later.