Monday, February 28, 2005

Instant Replay and GT / UGAg

Mention of the famous 1999 GT/UGAg football game.

"At the end of the day, we all want the same thing," said Steve Shaw, the referee on the SEC's No. 1 officiating crew. "We want to get the call right. Because in today's environment, especially in the South, the uproar over a bad call can last a long, long time."

Just ask Ron Leatherwood. The Waynesville, N.C., resident was on the SEC crew that worked the 1999 Georgia-Georgia Tech game in Atlanta. The score was tied 48-48 with a few ticks left. Georgia had the ball at Tech's 1-yard line and appeared headed for a sure victory.

Instead of kicking a field goal, Georgia handed the ball off to running back Jasper Sanks. Sanks fell short of the end zone, the ball popped loose and Tech recovered. Georgia argued that Sanks didn't fumble until after his knee and elbow hit the ground. Television replays appeared to confirm that.

But the SEC crew awarded Tech the ball and the Yellow Jackets won 51-48 in overtime.

The next day, SEC officials supervisor Bobby Gaston admitted that his No. 1 crew had made a mistake. The entire crew was suspended and, as a result, did not work the SEC championship game as scheduled.

Think that crew could have used instant replay that afternoon?

"Oh yeah," said Leatherwood, who has been calling SEC games since 1992. "That play would have certainly been reviewed. I still get calls about that play."

Here's more on replay.