Johnson joins other SEC coaches going 'zebra' hunting

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 12:19pm

Bobby Johnson understands that his is just one opinion.

It was clear to the Vanderbilt coach shortly after Saturday’s 14-10 loss at South Carolina, however, that his opinion about the Gamecocks’ first touchdown was shared by many others.

“I had more text (messages) on my cell phone after the game than (any time) since I’ve had a cell phone,” Johnson said Monday at his weekly press briefing. “To me it was fairly clear (and it was to) everyone else looking at it. … The announcers (thought) it was clear.

“I’m at a loss to tell you why it wasn’t overturned. I have no reason.”

Johnson is just one of a growing chorus of Southeastern Conference coaches who have been critical of the league’s officiating in recent weeks.

Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen both had beefs following their teams’ respective losses last Saturday as well. The conference office reprimanded both Kiffin and Mullen on Monday.

One SEC officiating crew was suspended for its performance a week earlier in Florida’s victory over Arkansas.

“The product is the players,” Johnson said. “They get out and do wonderful things. They play hard. They represent their schools. I don’t think anybody’s looking at the refereeing and saying the SEC’s a second-rate conference because of the officiating.

“I don’t think that’s the truth either.”

Still, Johnson believes the men who worked his game got it wrong when they ruled wide receiver D.L. Moore scored a touchdown on a 35-yard reception despite the fact that he juggled the ball before he secured it.

The call was reviewed, the ruling was upheld and Vanderbilt fell behind 7-0 with 7:52 to play in the first half.

“I’m not saying anybody’s doing anything subversive or anything like that, (but) in my opinion (Moore’s) foot clearly was on the line after he bobbled the ball,” Johnson said. “After he had possession, his left foot was in the air, his right foot was on the line.

“I don’t know what kind of evidence you need for those overrules. But to me, that was fairly clear.”

Conversely, a Vanderbilt fumble recovery earlier in the contest was overturned following a video review. Johnson said replays of that one offered far less visual evidence about what took place than on Moore’s reception.

“I think we have a great (replay) system,” Johnson said. “We just have to use it correctly. We review every play and they do it very quickly. If they need more time they ask for it, and that was the case there. I don’t think it was a matter of being rushed.

“I’d like to find out what the discussion was up in the booth about (the touchdown catch). It will be interesting to find out.”


• The start time for Vanderbilt’s game at Florida on Nov. 7 has been set for 6:15 p.m. (CDT). ESPN will decide next week whether that contest will be shown on ESPN or ESPN2.

• Vanderbilt has scored 15 touchdowns, fewest in the SEC. It also has allowed exactly 15 touchdowns, which is fifth-fewest in the league.

• The games have lasted 60 minutes (one even longer) but the Commodores’ fate has been sealed after 15 minutes. They have won both times they led after the first quarter but lost every time they’ve either trailed (0-3) or have been tied (0-3) at that point.

• Johnson said VU made it through the South Carolina game with no significant injuries, a first for the team in SEC play this season.

“We had a bunch of bumps and bruises, minor sprains and strains,” he said. “Hopefully no one got any worse after the game.”