Swept up in the emotion that came with thinking his team had pulled off an improbable upset Saturday, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he was in no position to analyze who or whom was lacking proper headgear.
“You kidding me?” Dooley asked at his Monday press conference. “I’m ready to get off the field and get on the bus.”
Upon further review, Dooley wouldn’t admit nor deny that one of the clips he sent to the SEC office for extensive analysis was footage of LSU center T-Bob Hebert slamming his helmet in frustration while players fell on what was originally believed to be Saturday’s game-ending fumble.
“We turned in a lot of calls to the conference office,” Dooley said. “We do that every week, it’s not unique to this game.
“That’s not really something I can comment on or should comment on. Whether it should or shouldn’t. That’s something the conference can comment on.”
On the Barnhart and Durham radio show Monday, SEC coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said “several players on both teams had their helmets off” on the play, which ended with a penalty on Tennessee for having 13 players on the field. Allowed to run one more play because of the infraction, LSU scored from 1 yard out to win, 16-14.
“We’re always going to allow that immediate, initial, spontaneous burst of emotion,” Redding said. “These are teenagers that are playing a game that is very emotional.
“It would be so technical and so over-officiating to have called anything like that at the very end of the game.”
If LSU were to have been flagged for Hebert’s helmet toss, the game would not have been over.
Unsportsmanlike conduct, the general category in which Hebert’s helmet toss would fall into, is “a live-ball foul that is treated like a dead-ball foul,” Redding said, meaning that both penalties would have been independently enforced. The ball would have been first moved half the distance to the goal line for UT’s illegal participation penalty and then moved back 15 yards for the LSU infraction.
Because the game cannot end on a defensive penalty, LSU would have been allowed to run one more offensive play, just as it did to ultimately win the game.
Dooley and Redding disagreed slightly when each respectively ran through a synopsis of the play Monday.
Dooley said that two seconds elapsed between the time the umpire stepped over the ball to allow UT proper time to adjust to LSU’s substitutions and when he finally stepped away to allow Hebert to snap the ball with seven seconds to play. Redding said that the official gave UT four seconds to make the proper adjustments.
Earlier in the game, Dooley said he used a timeout because he believed his defense did not receive enough time to adjust to an LSU substitution. He said Monday that he asked the official if he could have his timeout back, but his request was denied.
Asked if he sent more clips than usual this week for the SEC office to examine, Dooley said “I don’t want to get into that.”
“There were 13 guys, that was the right call,” Dooley said. “We could have controlled the outcome of the game despite everything that happened and I won’t back down from that.”
Andrew Gribble can be reached at 865-342-6327.