Those that did not watch the University of Kentucky and University of Florida football game Saturday, September 13, missed an excellent game. UK has had a 27-year losing streak to Florida prior to this game, and many people expected the streak to continue. After three overtimes, fans, players, and coaches were able to hold their heads high even after falling short 30-36. The question many are asking, should this game have even gone into a second overtime? Did Florida actually luck into this win?
College football writer, Jerry Hinnen, stated, “Despite a handful of controversial calls occurring in the Georgia-South Carolina game, no Week 3 officiating decision was more hotly contested in SEC country than the absence of a delay of game flag on a critical fourth-and-7 for Florida in the first overtime of the Gators’ eventual 36-30 victory against Kentucky.”
The SEC released the following statement about the controversial call: “At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.” Isn’t this a lot for one person to do? After reading over the statement again, I noticed that there was actually no comment about the call, all that was said was that the back judge followed the procedure.
This no-call not only affected the outcome of the University of Kentucky football game but countless games as well. One recent game is the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Instead of relying on the back judge to watch the clock and the ball, there should be a buzzer (like the shot clock in basketball) to go off when the timer hits zero. Even though a buzzer wouldn’t completely stop the controversial call of delay of game, it would help to reduce the margin of error.