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Sifting Through the Wreckage

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You can put this down on the police report if you want.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I spent Saturday night having a makeup Thanksgiving celebration at my parents’ house and watching the LSU-Texas A&M game. With a very tired four year old, and already pretty frustrated about how the game ended, we decided to head home. About an hour drive, and we pulled on to my street right as Kendrick Rogers caught the game-winning two-point play.

Honestly, I was kind of numb to the actual result at that point. A win would have been a relief, sure, but the game was already stolen. The result was already tainted in my mind.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath, a credentialed member of the Aggie sideline apparently scuffled with LSU staffer Steve Kragthorpe (whom has Parkinson’s Disease, by the way), and got a fist in the face from Kevin Faulk. And then, after some five hours of physically and emotionally draining football, the Tigers couldn’t even fly directly home.

Oh, and starting linebacker Jacob Phillips will have to miss the first half of whatever bowl game LSU makes now, due to a targeting call in overtime.

So that’s the story of maybe the most frustrating, soul-sucking LSU football loss since the 2006 Auburn game. For now, I’m going to just stick to that reaction. Breaking down the good and the bad of the football itself will have to wait. There’s too much nonsense to make sense of right now.

The Tigers were robbed. That much, I know. Three times, LSU was able to make plays that directly led to victory, and three times, Southeastern Conference officials found an excuse to extend the game for Texas A&M. On a long enough timeline, bad things will happen eventually.

Miss me with your counterarguments about officials not deciding things. I’m not arguing with the flat-Earth crowd.

The ending of that game was a comedy of incompetent mismanagement. And here’s the thing — I’m not even completely surprised, because I’ve come to expect this from the SEC. This league is riddled with calcified, institutional ineptitude when it comes to game management, and what happened on Saturday night is a monument to the inability to manage any remotely difficult situation on the football field.

Football is a brutally hard game to officiate. Let’s be clear on that. Twenty-two very large men running around with a layered, complicated set of rules on what they can and can’t do and when they can and can’t do it. And officials are still paid to get calls right. And the people in the review booths are paid to help supplement them.

And that is not what happened on Saturday night. No conspiracy, none of that. Just simple people failing to do their jobs correctly, and then other people failing to help correct fixable mistakes. And with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in the building, he has no excuse not to make efforts at making this situation better.

Will it change the result? No. Nor should it. I can live with LSU losing. Happened before, it’ll happen again. What I can no longer tolerate is the SEC’s continued inability to serve its membership, and more importantly, serve the interests of its student athletes. They deserve better.

I’m not even asking much. I don’t expect much in the way of details. Just a simple apology. An acknowledgement that mistakes were made. A “hey, we screwed up.” They don’t have to even make it about putting that final second back on. Or refusing to so much as even attempt to review the Jace Sternberger catch/fumble.

And field judge Blake Parks should be reprimanded for both the pass-interference call — he had absolutely no vantage point to see anything occurring between Greedy Williams and the receiver — and then he clowned himself by throwing an unsportsmanlike flag on a frustrated player after SEVEN GODDAMNED OVERTIMES.

It won’t happen, of course. If there’s one thing the SEC doesn’t do, it’s make an effort to make things right. Even a token one.