SEC official reassigned


Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
A Southeastern Conference official who received death threats after a controversial penalty in last year's Florida-Tennessee game has been removed from Saturday's rematch, a newspaper reported Monday.
SEC supervisor of officials Bobby Gaston told Florida Today he reassigned side judge Bobby Moreau for safety reasons.
Moreau made the personal foul call on Florida receiver Dallas Baker in the closing moments of Tennessee's 30-28 win in Knoxville last year.
Officials also mistakenly stopped the clock after the penalty with 55 seconds remaining, which gave the Volunteers more time to set up James Wilhoit's game-winning, 50-yard field goal with 6 seconds to play.
Moreau's crew was assigned to officiate Saturday's game in Gainesville. But Moreau will be in Nashville, working the Vanderbilt-Mississippi game.
"The media would have exposed it, and the fans would have eaten him alive," Gaston told Florida Today. "I just decided that was not a fair thing for him. He's a great official. He will continue to have a great career, like he has in the past. He's been ranked the No. 1 side judge (in the SEC) the last seven or eight years."
Moreau received dozens of calls at home and on his cell phone from angry fans after last year's game. One caller said if Moreau ever worked another Florida game, "It could cost you your life."
"I would like to be there, but Bobby Gaston is my boss," Moreau told the paper. "I understand. There are some looney toons out there."
A former LSU football player who is a school teacher in South Carolina, Moreau had worked SEC football games for 12 years without any major problems until the Florida-Tennessee game.
Moreau said he had warned Baker and Vols cornerback Jonathan Wade about hitting each other late. So when he saw them smack each other's helmets with less than a minute to play, he threw a flag.
Wade hit first, and Baker retaliated. But Moreau called a 15-yard penalty against the Gators, which pushed them back farther for a punt.
Moreau acknowledged that he should have called a double foul. He was suspended for two weeks after the call.
"Last year was kind of our turn to get one of those, I guess," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said of the controversial call.
Fulmer and the Volunteers remember the 2000 game in which Florida's Jabar Gaffney caught the winning touchdown, but replays showed he may not have had possession before the ball was knocked from his hands.
Gaston said Al Matthews, the official who made that call, got a similar reaction from Vols fans and has not worked another Tennessee game in Knoxville.

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