From SI.COM, November 7, 2009
I WISH I COULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT HOW ALABAMA receiver Julio Jones, who has struggled to break free all season, caught a two-yard pass in the fourth quarter and turned it into a 73-yard touchdown. I wish I could have written about the grin on Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy's face when he said after the game, "I've never seen anybody run that fast."
I wish I could have written about how LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson fought off cramps for most of the game or about how he just missed getting back on the field before that Jones TD play began. I should have written about how LSU soldiered on despite injuries to starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson (sprained ankle) and tailback Charles Scott (broken collarbone).
Instead, I have to write about the SEC officials. Again.
Because when officials went to the video with 5:54 remaining in Alabama's 24-15 win to determine whether Peterson intercepted McElroy along the right sideline, the replay official didn't see the same thing as did most impartial eyes watching at home: Peterson got his left foot down with possession. He may have even gotten his right foot down. Officials on the field ruled that Peterson caught the ball out-of-bounds. After a few minutes replay official Gerald Hodges upheld that call.
Let's get one thing straight. The play didn't decide the game. Yes, LSU would have gotten the ball down six instead of down nine two minutes and 50 seconds later, but there's no guarantee backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, working with backup running back Stevan Ridley, would have led the Tigers down the field for the winning score against the ferocious Alabama defense.
But we can't be sure the best team won, because we know both teams didn't get a fair shot. The disputed call was as unfair to Alabama as it was to LSU because a tiny seed of doubt has now planted itself in the minds of all but the most fervent Crimson Tide supporters.
Peterson certainly believes he intercepted the pass. "When I caught the ball, I tried to get two feet in. I believe I got two feet in," Peterson said. "Definitely, the foot mark was left on the field. Not even on the white. It was on the green."
The worst part isn't the mistake. "We're all human," LSU linebacker Harry Coleman said. The worst part is the fact that these ridiculous conspiracy theories will continue because the officials in the nation's highest-profile conference keep missing big calls in big games.
So that's why I wish I could have written about the brilliance of Alabama tailback Mark Ingram, who jump-started the Tide offense in the second quarter and finished with 144 yards on 22 carries. I wish I could have written about the superb play of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, who stuffed Ridley on a key third down to force the punt that set up Jones's go-ahead touchdown. I wish I could have written about the beauty of watching two sets of elite athletes spill sweat and blood onto the field.