Lane Kiffin has asked the SEC office why Alabama wasn't penalized Saturday for a player removing his helmet during a live play.
But Kiffin doesn't expect any satisfaction in the wake of Tennessee's 12-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
"I've left a message for Rogers (Redding, the SEC coordinator of football officials),'' Kiffin said Sunday night. "He hasn't returned my call. I talked to the commissioner (Mike Slive) today.''
On the game's final play, Alabama's Terrence Cody blocked a game-winning field-goal attempt by Daniel Lincoln. While the ball was still live behind the line of scrimmage, Cody ripped off his helmet in celebration.
Alabama recovered and that was that. A player can be penalized for removing his helmet during a play, which Kiffin believed should have given UT another chance to kick from closer in.
"To me,'' he said, "the rule is this: If a play is still going on, you can't take your helmet off.
"The play is still going. The ball is sitting there. If Luke (Stocker, UT tight end) sees the ball he can pick it up and go score a touchdown and we win the game. The guy (Cody) throws his helmet, then two of their guys go recover the ball.
"It's a 15-yard penalty and we kick again.''
Charles Bloom, SEC associate commissioner, told the Birmingham News on Saturday there would have been no penalty because time had expired.
"Since the clock ran out on the play, there is no next play,'' Bloom said. "So there is no penalty to mark off.''
Kiffin interprets the rule differently, but expects no recourse.
"I'm sure we'll get one of those letters that mean nothing, that Bobby (Petrino) got last week, but Florida and Alabama live on,'' he said.
He referred to the league office acknowledging a blown call that was to Florida's advantage in a last-second 23-20 win over Arkansas on Oct. 17. The officiating crew was suspended from working this past weekend.
Petrino, the Arkansas coach, was later reprimanded by the SEC for public criticism of officials.
Kiffin said officiating was a factor in his decision not to try to squeeze in one more pass play before attempting the field goal.
"You run another play and throw an interception,'' he said, "or, they throw another flag on us. I wasn't going to let the refs lose the game for us there. You know, a magical flag appear.
"At that point, it's nine penalties to one. We're the second-least-penalized team in the country going into the game. They're 60th in the country. And you go down there and it's very disappointing to have nine flags thrown against you and one against them.''
Where's The Beef?: The Vols worked on field-goal protection Sunday, using defensive tackles Dan Williams and Montori Hughes as blockers on the left side of the line, which is where Alabama's penetration came from on two blocked kicks.
Hughes is 6-foot-4 and weighs 312 pounds. Williams is 6-3, 327.
"Obviously we have a size issue in there and it showed up,'' Kiffin said. "Like anything, we're going to try to get better.''
Special-teams coordinator Eddie Gran said that other than the field-goal breakdowns, the kicking game improved.
"We're trying to fix what's broken,'' Gran said. "I thought they executed the plan for the most part pretty good.
"We didn't have the ball right on the second kickoff. It wasn't where it needed to be and we had a guy that lost contain, but the execution of the punt was outstanding for what we wanted to do in the game.''
Gran was referring to a 30-yard kickoff return that gave Alabama good field position for a 22-yard drive for its second field goal.
Of five UT punts, only two were returned by dangerous Javier Arenas, one for 24 yards the other for 9.
The Vols averaged 28.4 yards on five kickoff returns.
No Trick or Treat: Internet speculation about UT unveiling special Halloween uniforms for Saturday's visit from South Carolina led to Kiffin being asked about it Sunday.
"You'll have to ask (athletic director) Mike Hamilton that,'' Kiffin said after a pause.
Hamilton said in a text message no special uniforms are planned.
Walls Debut: True freshman Marlon Walls shed a potential redshirt to get 12 snaps at defensive tackle against Alabama.
"I was (asked) are you ready to play against the number-one team in the nation, and I don't know how you couldn't be pretty excited about that,'' Walls said.
Kiffin said Walls, who arrived late in August because of NCAA Clearinghouse issues, was coming on too strong not to play.
"He had two great service (scout team) weeks in a row,'' Kiffin said. "This is a long season and instead of worrying about four years down the road, I think he's going to be a great player, a guy that could potentially end up leaving early.''
Quick Hits: Kiffin said Lincoln did not mention tweaking his injured quadriceps muscle in pregame warm-ups. . . . Defensive end Ben Martin said X-rays of his wrist were negative and he expects no problems. . . . The stat crew credited Eric Berry with recovering Alabama's only fumble but replays show that while Berry caused the fumble, Dennis Rogan recovered. . . . Alabama was 0-for-4 on third-down conversions in the second half.