Saying the incorrect ejection of Jalen Catalon cost Arkansas the game against LSU on Saturday is making an excuse for the failure of the offense to get first downs.
Especially on third down.
No, Catalon should not have been ejected. In my opinion it should not have even been flagged. The fact that the SEC’s league office tries to run things like a third-world dictatorship on comments about it makes it worse.
This is not an indictment of the on-field officials. That’s a job I have never (and would never) attempt to do. I have been on the sidelines and seen how fast those things happen and I know what I thought I saw didn’t really happen when I saw it on film later.
It’s almost impossible to see everything and be right on every single call, but replay was supposed to change a lot of that.
Sam Pittman said about what you’d expect from a coach after the 27-24 loss to the Tigers in a game that wasn’t particularly well played by either team.
“I’m not going to answer that stuff,” Pittman said later when asked about it. “It costs me money and it’s over with. You saw it.”
Catalon did not lead with his helmet into LSU receiver Kayshon Boutte. He was leading with his shoulder to the chest, then Boutte tried to duck and Catalon’s shoulder got a glancing blow to the helmet.
“It looked to me (Catalon) was trying to get his head out of there, trying to avoid the receiver’s helmet as well,” Pittman said later.
Replay clearly showed that as well.
SEC Network analyst Matt Stinchcomb, an All-American offensive lineman at Georgia, was mystified by the call, too, especially after seeing the replay.
“I don’t know how that call can possibly be confirmed,” Stinchcomb said. “I also don’t know how you can play defense if you are not able to make a play that looks like that. He turned his entire body sideways. I didn’t even see any head or neck contact.”
Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek stepped up on social media, which may be as good to see as anything.
I cannot change the outcome or any of the other missed calls, but I will work with the appropriate SEC Officials to make sure that this “targeting” call does not cost Jalen Catalon our next game. My student-athletes deserve better. pic.twitter.com/vGEd20u0FB
— Hunter Yurachek (@HunterYurachek) November 21, 2020
This has been a problem that has jumped into the main storyline of games across the league this season. Arkansas fans think it’s all about the Hogs but it’s a league-wide problem.
Commissioner Greg Sankey prefers to double-talk with politically-correct releases instead of addressing the problem head-on … and taking money from coaches and administrators who publicly question things.
For Hog fans, though, the ejection of Catalon (or the fumble Arkansas clearly recovered despite replay not being able to see that, either) did not cost them the game.
The offense going 0-for-10 on third down had much more to do with that, in my opinion. That was a combination of poor execution and bad luck more than anything else.
Catalon’s ejection is another matter completely. Because it happened in the second half of Saturday’s game that makes him ineligible for the first half of the next game against Missouri this week.
The SEC can’t change anything that happened after the replay call was made.
There is precedent, however, to fix the incorrect part of a bad decision that CAN be fixed. Catalon should be allowed to start and play against Missouri.
That’s the easy decision.
The harder one should be Sankey or somebody with some guts taking a serious look at the replay, inject some common sense (yes, I know that’s in short supply at times in Birmingham) and get the replays fixed.
Let’s see what they do.