Arkansas-Florida officiating crew suspended by SEC

The officiating crew from Saturday’s Arkansas at Florida football game will not be officiating any Southeastern Conference games until at least Nov. 14, according to a press release issued today from the office of SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

“A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews,” said Slive. “I believe our officiating program is the best in the country, however, there are times when these actions must be taken.”

Following each weekend, the conference office reviews games from the previous week, using video replays as well as interviews with officials, coaches and administrators.

“While only a few calls have been identified, the entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play. I have taken this action because there must be accountability in our officiating program,” added Slive. “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.”

Several calls from the Arkansas versus Florida game last weekend have raised eyebrows around the country, and one call in particular has already prompted the SEC to issue a statement earlier this week.

Marc Curles, the official who flagged Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard on the play that prompted action by the SEC admitted to ESPN’s Mike Fish that he blew the call.

“I saw out of the corner of my eye — the play went over near the sideline,” Curles told ESPN. “I’m trailing the play, moving in that direction. And out of the corner of my eye, I see a vicious blow, and I see the Florida player go flying down 20 yards behind the play. And in my mind, the Arkansas guy had blindsided him and knocked the player that was completely out of the play, which would have been a personal foul. Obviously, that isn’t what happened. Where I made the mistake is I didn’t see the whole thing. I didn’t see how it developed. I saw out of the corner of my eye what I thought was a foul. I can’t think something is a foul. I got to know it is. And that was my mistake. And I know better than that. What makes me mad at myself is that I know better than to call something if I didn’t see the whole thing. And I’ve been sick about it ever since, quite frankly.”

In addition to the suspension, according to the release we received today, there will also be an impact on the officiating crew’s eligibility for post-season bowl assignments.