Probably just a coincidence
BATON ROUGE — You’d think by now that SEC Headquarters had already sent out the coded memo to its game officials.
"Yo, gang. STOP. Call off the mission. STOP. Red Elephant Plan doesn’t need any help this year. STOP."
It’s all probably just another crazy coincidence, this whole business that has led to LSU being without the heart and soul of its defense, tackling machine Devin White, for the first half of the Alabama game in two weeks.
He ran afoul of the targeting rule late in the Mississippi State game and — you know what the rules says — it happed in the second half, so the offender has to sit out the first half of the next game.
Bad luck for LSU. Certainly bad timing for the Tigers. And, what do you know, what a stroke of good fortune for Alabama, which doesn’t need it.
But it’s certainly not because the SEC office is in Birmingham. And Nick Saban doesn’t have a direct line to it.
So just get that out of your head right now.
It’s also unrelated that earlier Saturday an Alabama player appeared to target a defenseless Tennessee quarterback, but nothing was called — or spotted on review.
Hey, that’s how the video review process is supposed to work.
Close call for the Tide, though.
Oh, you’re wondering about Raekwon Davis, the Alabama player who wasn’t flagged for punching a Missouri offensive lineman the previous week.
The conference office did nothing, going with the hand’s-off, boys-will-be-boys approach on that one.
It was, like, whatever you think is best, Nick, you handle it (to his credit, Saban did suspend Davis for the first half of the Tennessee game).
The SEC office was much more proactive in the case of White vs. Alabama.
It was quick to issue a statement immediately after the game that was filled with gibberish that basically said the target ruling had been upheld after video review during the game, which we already knew.
Glad they could clear that up.
It doesn’t matter that it was an awful call, certainly not in the spirit of the rule. If they can find micro-dot of connection to the letter of the law, their butts are covered.
And it is.
The office was also kind enough to inform the press box that, sorry, there is no mechanism for an appeal in this process.
No, there’s no possible reprieve — not even a late call from the governor.
In fact, the governor of the great state of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, already tried. He even went new-age to tweet it out before the postgame traffic jam had cleared.
"Someone is going to have to explain the definition of ‘targeting’ to me," it said. "From what I know, that wasn’t it. #GeauxTigers."
Well, that’s the beauty of it.
The rule is so broad and vaguely written that it’s become almost like offensive holding; it could be called most every play.
And it prides itself — all in the name of player safety — on leaning toward convictions even with scant incriminating evidence.
LSU will take a shot at getting White reinstated anyway.
A report by The Advocate says that LSU athletic director Joe Alleva will plead White’s case to the SEC office.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
In fact, better tread lightly. If Alleva negotiates as ferociously as he did with the LSU-Florida hurricane game fiasco three years ago, by the time he’s done the Tigers will be without Grant Delpit and Joe Burrow for the Alabama game, too. Maybe Orgeron. And the game will be moved to Tuscaloosa.
But maybe Alleva could call Mike Johnson as a witness.
"I’ve said it before many times.. and I’ll say it again," he tweeted. "These @NCAA officials ejecting players for accidentally grazing another players helmet is the most ridiculous thing happening in college football today. What happened to Devin White is absolute garbage. So sick of it."
Oh, by the way — Johnson is a former Alabama (and Atlanta Falcon) offensive lineman now working as radio analyst in Atlanta.
Or maybe this is just where football is today.
The egregious targeting call on White was part of the bizarre sequence.
The more noticeable offenses were from two Tigers, Kristian Fulton and John Battle, who to honor Fulton’s interception were acting the fool with the worst comedy skit since "Three Amigos," apparently in an attempt to pantomine Battle "filming" Fulton but mostly to prove how cute and cocky they were.
It was childish and selfish and mostly incredibly stupid. Or maybe it was a sudden urge to play charades.
They got rightfully flagged — 30 yards worth — and should have been sent to bed with no supper.
But, perhaps pleading that it was an attempt to show they were NFL-ready, they were completely free to stay in the game.
Two plays later, in fact, Battle got in on the interception-fest against Mississippi State.
Meanwhile, White was ejected from a football game and for the first half of the Alabama football game for … for playing football.
But, if nothing else, the ejection of White gives LSU fans a ready-made excuse to explain away a game the Tigers probably have no chance of winning anyway.
Still, if an Alabama helmet or forearm gets anywhere near Joe Burrow’s "head or neck" area and isn’t called … probably just a coincidence.