LSU-A&M rivalry just got real

It’s been four days now and, oddly enough, the Southeastern Conference still has not seen fit to reverse the outcome of the LSU-Texas A&M fiasco.

The statute of limitations has probably run out.

But the conference does tend to fine its member coaches for saying naughty things about officiating.

Nothing official yet, but LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s tab could be mounting faster than the Kyle Field scoreboard in overtime mode.

And Coach O’s meter was still running on full-blooded, Cajun spit-fire angry Tuesday morning when he landed on the Baton Rouge radio show “Off the Bench” hosted by former Tiger T-Bob Hebert.

“That game was taken away from them,” Orgeron said of the controversial 74-72 loss, later adding, “In 35 years of coaching I have never used officiating as an excuse. There were some bad calls. They missed some calls. Four times the game should have been won. Those calls should have gone in our favor, they didn’t.”

Orgeron had a knowledgeable ally agree with him on at least one call. But for the most part Terry McAulay, who was on the same radio show shortly after Orgeron, sided with the officials.

McAulay, a 1981 LSU graduate, isn’t just an ordinary alum. A longtime college and NFL referee and former director of officials for what was then the Big East Conference, he’s currently the rules analyst for NBC’s telecasts of “Sunday Night Football.”

But back to the show.

“That second should have never been put on the clock,” Orgeron said of the review that gave Texas A&M one last chance to tie the score and send it into a historical overtime.

“As soon as the white hat (head ref) drops his hand the ball needs to be snapped. The ball was not snapped with three seconds left. In fact, the ball was snapped with under two seconds left according to the clock we had on the TV. That one second should have never been put back on the clock.

“It was the wrong call. I’m sticking by that. It was a mistake.”

Not according to McAulay.

“Yes, it was legal,” he said. “The referee correctly started the clock. It appears the clock started appropriately. You do it very deliberately at that point in game for any team in the two-minute drill.

“They got a clear shot; the ball hits the ground with one second on the clock. They get another play.”

So fast-forward to the first overtime, with LSU having settled for a field goal with its chance when A&M’s first play is a pass to Jace Sternberger that LSU’s Grant Delpit jars looses.

Incomplete? Or fumble recovered by LSU to end the game?

“If the call on the field had been a catch — which we all know it was — and it had been a fumble, then it could have been reviewed and it would not have been turned over,” Orgeron said. “So it could have gone either way. That was the call on the field. It was the wrong call. They made a mistake.”

Not so fast, said McAulay.

There’s an unwritten rule/guideline among officials, he said: “No cheap catches, no cheap fumbles.”

“Objectively, that needs to be an incomplete pass. He just doesn’t have it long enough. When you look at it in slow motion it really alters the view, the perception, because it appears he has the ball a lot longer than he does.

“You can analyze it to the nth degree. I don’t think it was a catch.”

The officials’ mistake there, McAulay said, was in not doing a better job of informing the stadium what was going on. Because of that, the assumption was that the play was never reviewed.

Even Orgeron said that wasn’t the case.

“They were looking at it to see if there was conclusive evidence,” he said of his feisty argument with the zebras after the play. “I could have called a timeout, but the referee told me, ‘Coach, you can call a timeout but you’d be wasting it. There’s not conclusive evidence. We’ve reviewed it. You’d be wasting a timeout, but if you want to, go ahead.’ So I didn’t.

“I talked to the head of SEC officials (Steve Shaw) on Sunday morning. He said, ‘Coach, I reviewed it with the head official. He did the right thing. They were not going to overturn it.'”

Perhaps to the benefit of his wallet, Orgeron never quite got around to commenting on the pass-interference call on Greedy Williams that gave the Aggies a mulligan on the 2-point pass that finally ended the game.

McAulay said the TV angles didn’t give him a good enough view to definitively say if the ball was catchable.

“But the contact is not a (pass interference) foul,” he said. “What you see is they come and grab each other right off the line pretty much. That’s a standoff. They’re both looking at the ball, they’re both playing it. They’re both grabbing each other.

“It’s nothing. It’s a standoff. As the receiver turns there may be the slightest grab, but it has no effect. He plays right through it. It’s just not a foul — and it has nothing to do with the time of the game. I don’t ever believe in that. It’s not a foul in the first quarter, it shouldn’t have a been a foul there.”

But, of course, it was.

“I felt bad about it,” Orgeron said. “Our guys fought. We should have won the game.”

But Orgeron did confirm that the Tigers might have found their new most bitter rival in the Aggies.

“I wish we played them again tomorrow,” he said.

l

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

shobbs@americanpress.com

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