The SEC office has issued a statement acknowledging an officiating error that went against Arkansas on Wednesday.
No, the above sentence isn’t copy and pasted from a previous story. Your sense of deja vu is the result of this happening too often in critical moments across multiple sports.
This time around, it was a crucial call in the closing seconds of an Arkansas basketball loss at Missouri. With 43.7 seconds left, a charge on Davonte Davis was reviewed and should have been overturned because D’Moi Hodge was inside the restricted area — but it wasn’t.
Here’s the explanation from the SEC:
tl;dr — The officials in the video replay center randomly forgot the replay rules.
Which would be understandable…if it wasn’t THE SOLE PURPOSE OF SAID REPLAY CENTER’S EXISTENCE.
“Not the WIN we wanted, but I appreciate the diligence and accountability from my colleagues in (the) SEC office,” UA athletics director Hunter Yurachek said in a tweet.
Now, that call — and the other questionable calls that led to four Razorbacks fouling out — isn’t the only reason Arkansas lost to the Tigers 79-76. It still squandered a 10-point lead in the final five minutes and even had a chance to take the lead in the final minute.
The loss dropped Arkansas to 1-5 in SEC play for just the third time since joining the conference, so there’s no doubt the Razorbacks are struggling.
But the botched call certainly didn’t help. Instead of Davis going to the free throw line with a chance to break a 71-71 tie, he fouled out and gave the ball back to Missouri. The Tigers capitalized, getting to the line via Kamani Johnson’s fifth foul.
Kobe Brown made both, but it was still a two-point game. However, the Razorbacks were without Jordan Walsh and Makhi Mitchell — who didn’t appear to make any contact at all on his fifth foul about 30 seconds early — in addition to Davis and Johnson.
That quartet had accounted for nearly two-thirds of Arkansas’ scoring at that point and their absence forced lesser-used players like Jalen Graham, Joseph Pinion and Derrian Ford into the game at a key moment. Sure enough, Graham turned it over on the next possession and that was all she wrote.
(We’ll forget the fact that Anthony Black appeared to get fouled on his last-second heave, so much so that Missouri even edited the moment out of a video it shared to social media afterward.)
Claiming that referees/officials/umpires robbed a team of a victory is a national pastime for fans of every team in every sport at every level, but Arkansas fans seem to have a strong argument at times.
Not even including instances like Perry Costello’s questionable strike zone in the 2012 College World Series, the no-call when U.S. Reed was tripped in the 1979 NCAA Tournament or everything that happened down the stretch against North Carolina in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, there have been multiple instances of an actual governing body coming out and saying, “We messed up.”
Pac-12 Tries to Give Liberty Bowl to Kansas
Not even a month ago, Arkansas found itself trying to cling to what was once a 25-point lead over Kansas in the Liberty Bowl.
Things were still looking good for the Razorbacks, as they were up by 15 and driving with the ball late in the fourth quarter. Matt Landers took an end-around for 15 yards and a first down that should have iced the game, putting Arkansas in the red zone with about 3 minutes left and the Jayhawks out of timeouts.
Instead, the ball popped loose at the end of the run and Kansas returned it to near midfield. Replays appeared to show Landers’ wrist, forearm and elbow on the ground before it came out, and the ground can’t cause a fumble, but the call inexplicably stood as called. That set off a furious rally by Kansas to force overtime.
That’s not the play in question, though. What caused an official response by the NCAA occurred in the second overtime. The Razorbacks appeared to stop Jalon Daniels shy of the goal line on a two-point conversion and started celebrating, as the game appeared to be over.
However, there was a flag on the play. Cornerback Quincey McAdoo was called for targeting and the call was confirmed after a replay review. Not only was he ejected from the game, but Kansas got another crack at the two-point conversion and got it.
The Razorbacks ended up winning in the third overtime. Had they gone on to lose, what happened a day later would have stung even worse: The NCAA reviewed the targeting call and determined that it was not, in fact, targeting.
A win in the third overtime or beyond by Kansas would have been severely tainted because the game should have ended in the second overtime period. Alas, that scenario was avoided and now McAdoo won’t have to sit out the first half of the opener against Western Carolina on Sept. 2.
To the SEC’s credit, the conference office is actually the entity that requested the NCAA review and it was Pac-12 officials that botched the original call.
The 2020 Auburn Fiasco
Since the SEC Officiating Twitter account was created in November 2018, it has tweeted three statement graphics regarding officiating mistakes. The most recent was the Davonte Davis play against Missouri and the first was in response to the infamous end of the Arkansas football loss at Auburn in 2020.
George Caratan’s blocked punt in the end zone resulted in a touchdown and then he botched a hold on an extra point attempt, leading to Arkansas chasing points after its next two scores, but all anyone remembers is the final 30 seconds.
Needing to spike the football in order to stop the clock, Bo Nix bobbled a snap and then intentionally grounded the ball backwards. Joe Foucha dove for the ball as officials were blowing their whistle.
Nix was initially just flagged for intentional grounding, but the SEC admitted that replay show conclusive evidence that his pass was backwards and should have been a live ball. However, a turnover was not granted because there wasn’t an “immediate clear recovery.”
Given new life, Auburn kicked a game-winning field goal with 7 seconds left and won 30-28. It was such an egregious call that even national media insist that Arkansas won the game and the crew — led by Jason Autrey — didn’t work a game the next week.
Of course, it wasn’t the first — or the last — time the Tigers benefited from a questionable call.
Numerous calls went against Arkansas in the legendary 2010 shootout that Auburn and Cam Newton eventually won 65-43 on their way to a national championship, most notably a fumble by the Tigers that was ruled a touchdown and a non-fumble by the Razorbacks that was returned for a touchdown. Who knows how that game, and that season, would have played out if those calls went the other way.
The stakes weren’t nearly as high when Auburn came to Fayetteville the year after the infamous Bo Nix spike, but yet another fumble went against Arkansas.
Late in the first quarter, Jashaud Stewart threw Jarquez Hunter down for no gain and seemingly knocked out the ball, which Arkansas jumped on. It looked like the Razorbacks were going to get the ball in the red zone with a chance to take the lead and grab early momentum. Instead, the call on the field — no fumble — was confirmed after a replay review.
Upset of No. 1 Florida Foiled by SEC Officials
The name Marc Curles still draws a negative reaction from Arkansas football fans because of several calls his crew made in the Razorbacks’ 23-20 loss at No. 1 Florida in 2009.
The most egregious of the calls came in the fourth quarter when Malcolm Sheppard was flagged for a personal foul. The SEC later admitted there was no video evidence to support the call and suspended the crew the following weekend.
However, the damage was done. What looked to be the first signature win of the Bobby Petrino era turned out to be a heartbreaking loss.
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