SEC admits replay error, fines Kiffin

The Southeastern Conference admitted a refereeing error that proved costly to Mississippi in a loss to Auburn on Saturday, while at the same time fining Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin $25,000 for calling out the error on Twitter.

Kiffin had retweeted a comment from an Ole Miss alumnus that read, “Y’all are a disgrace @SEC your officiating is absolutely atrocious. @SECOfficiating If y’all want to just keep gifting Auburn wins, just say it.”

On the play in question, the Rebels were kicking off after taking a 28-27 lead with 5:43 remaining. Auburn return man Shaun Shivers may have had the ball graze off his finger before it went into the end zone, where Ole Miss recovered the ball. However, the refs ruled that Shivers never touched the ball, giving the Tigers the ball on a touchback, and the replay crew never reviewed the play.

Auburn later scored a touchdown with 1:11 left to win 35-28.

The conference announced in a statement Monday, “SEC has determined the replay official should have stopped the game for further review of the (kickoff). In the football officiating replay process every play is reviewed but, when appropriate, the game is stopped for further review.

“Because the play was not appropriately stopped for further review, the necessary slow-motion view of the play was not viewed by the replay official to determine if the ruling on the field should have been reversed.”

The statement went on to detail Kiffin’s fine, pointing out that he violated SEC Bylaw 10.5: “Criticism of officials or the officiating program by institutional personnel is absolutely prohibited. Comments on officiating are to be directed only to the Conference office. All reports or comments pertaining to officiating or game management responsibilities, or concerning student-athletes, coaches or officials, shall be directed only to the Conference office. Public comments related to officiating by officials, coaches or institutional personnel are prohibited.”

Kiffin didn’t back down, though, saying Monday, “Everybody in the country could see (the ball) hit him.

“I asked the side judge, ‘Why aren’t they replaying it? Do I need to challenge it?’ He said, ‘They’ve already looked at it. There’s nothing there.’ I’m not allowed to say anything about the conversation, but I really wish that our fans and players could hear what I was told.”

Kiffin went one step further Monday evening, retweeting a post from a reporter with The Athletic: “Lane Kiffin: Replay blew it. SEC: Replay blew it. Also SEC: Here’s a $25,000 fine, Lane, for correctly pointing out we blew it.”

Kiffin subsequently tweeted, “Where can I find 25,000 pennies??” before changing it to 250,000 pennies and then 2.5 million pennies. He finally added, “Was just checking to see if @SEC would review my math to get it right this time??? After future review it’s 2.5 million pennies. Thanks for stopping to get it right”