Meyer: SEC was right to suspend officials

Published: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 9:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 9:16 p.m.

First the SEC announced that Malcolm Sheppard's personal foul call on UF lineman Marcus Gilbert in the fourth quarter of the Gators' 23-20 victory shouldn't have been called after video evidence didn't support the call. Then the referee crew from the game was suspended.

Controversy also surrounded a pass interference call against Arkansas the play prior and a no-call on UF receiver Riley Cooper after he appeared to draw offensive pass interference in the end zone during the Gators' game-winning drive.

Urban Meyer said he only saw Sheppard's penalty and agreed that if the league found the officials in the wrong, they should have been suspended.

"It think thatís fair," he said.

Meyer said he speaks with SEC official Rogers Redding concerning penalty issues and that while he's used to speaking to him on a weekly basis, the last time he spoke with Redding was after the LSU game about center Maurkice Pouncey's head movements during the silent count.

Tuesday, Gilbert said he didn't think Sheppard's hit warranted a penalty.

"I got up and heard all the people clapping and I was like, 'OK, I guess we got the flag,' " he said. "I donít know what he did."

The same crew called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league felt was incorrect as well.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the crew would be pulled from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and won't work again until Nov. 14. Bowl assignments could also be impacted.

"If that's the right thing to do, then they did it," Meyer said. "I don't know all the ins and outs ... (but) I have great confidence in the head dog."

Slive said the entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play, and said the suspension was necessary to maintain accountability among officials.

"Our institutions expect the highest level of officiating in all of our sports and it is the duty of the conference office to uphold that expectation," he said.

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said it is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew in this type of situation, the only decision that Meyer questioned.

"Why would you do that?" he said. "I don't understand that part."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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