Taking an official stand

He'll look for changes, Florida's Foley says

Florida safety Guss Scott strips the ball from Florida State running back Lorenzo Booker in the first quarter Saturday against Florida State. The play was ruled a non-fumble.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, December 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 30, 2003 at 11:22 p.m.


Questionable calls

  • Florida State's Antonio Cromartie fumbled the opening kickoff and the Gators recovered. Officials ruled the play over before the fumble, even though Cromartie's knee clearly hadn't touched the ground.
  • Later in the quarter, Florida State receiver Chris Davis is tackled at the FSU 46 on a reverse. The ball pops loose and is scooped up by a Florida defender, who is running and in the clear. Officials rule Davis was down.
  • Florida's Guss Scott puts a hit on Davis that jars the ball loose at around the Florida 40. Florida defender recovers fumble and is running in open field for return. Officials rule the pass incomplete. Replays of the bang-bang play show Davis in firm control of the ball with two feet down before the hit. Florida State retains possession; Florida defensive lineman Mo Mitchell penalized 15 yards for a late hit he delivered thinking the ball was live when his teammate scooped it up. Two plays later, FSU scores to go ahead 7-3.
  • Florida State's Pat Watkins scooped up a fumble and returned it for a score, even though Florida tailback Ciatrick Fason appeared to be flat on the ground before the ball popped out in the third quarter.
  • In the fourth quarter, FSU running back Leon Washington fumbles near the goal line. UF linebacker Channing Crowder came out of the pile with the ball. Washington appeared to be sitting on the ball when officials made the call.

  • Florida football fans, still livid after Saturday's Florida-Florida State game was marred by controversial officiating, want some answers.
    So does the Florida athletic director.
    Florida AD Jeremy Foley called SEC commissioner Michael Slive on Saturday night, hoping to eventually find them.
    "I called Mike Slive and told him he needed to talk to (ACC commissioner) John Swofford, and he said he will (today)," Foley said Sunday. "I'll follow through on that, but we're going to handle this the right way.
    "The commissioner was upset, too. I want to see how the ACC evaluates (the officials). What are the consequences if someone does not do their job? We all have to face the consequences if we don't do our jobs. What are they in this situation?"
    Tommy Hunt, the director of ACC officials, told The Associated Press he hadn't watched the tape as of Sunday morning, so he couldn't comment specifically on the game.
    "When I see the game, if our officials make mistakes, they're held accountable for them," Hunt said. "We've got the best officials in the country, or some of the best, and I stand by that."
    Hunt defended the crew, led by referee Jack Childress.
    "People sit in the stands, they watch the replay four or five times, in slow motion, backward, forward, then they make the call," Hunt said. "We're not in that business. We're in the instantaneous-decision business."
    The controversy, a blemish on an otherwise spectacular football game won by FSU 38-34, surrounds several fumbles/non-fumbles that turned cheers into boos on numerous occasions at Florida Field on Saturday night.
    But there were also other plays - including celebration penalties that were not called - that angered orange-and-blue fans.
    "I'm a Gator, too, and I can tell you I'm upset," Foley said. "I didn't sleep at all (Saturday night). I agree with coach (Ron) Zook that there were plays that we should have made and if we had, we would have won. But to have a game like that and have officials not do their jobs is inexcusable."
    Florida fans can take solace in the fact that they likely won't see another ACC crew in The Swamp again.
    The contract between the two schools expires after next year's game in Tallahassee, and the next deal is expected to change the way the game is officiated. ACC crews do the game in Gainesville and SEC crews in Tallahassee.
    But Foley is not expected to keep the status quo for the games in Gainesville every other year, not after Saturday's game, which GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN was the "best we've seen all year, worst officiating we've seen all year."
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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