For Tennessee to survive a blown call at the end of Saturday's 27-21 victory over Vanderbilt, the officiating crew made it right by bypassing proper protocol.
SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw released a statement early Sunday morning detailing how the crew erred on multiple occasions during the game's final, hectic moment.
"On the last play of the Vanderbilt-Tennessee game, in overtime, the Tennessee defender intercepted the pass, his knee did not touch the ground and he returned the interception for a touchdown," Shaw wrote of Eric Gordon's game-winning, 90-yard interception return for a touchdown. "During the play, the head linesman incorrectly ruled that the Tennessee player's knee was down when he intercepted the pass by blowing his whistle and giving the dead ball signal. The play was reviewed as if there was no whistle on the field and as a result, overturned the incorrect ruling.
"By rule, if there was a whistle blown, the play is not reviewable."
But it was, and UT (5-6, 1-6 SEC) escaped with its first SEC win of the season and its 28th win in the past 29 meetings against the Commodores (5-6, 2-6).
"He made a huge play and it was really exciting and then it almost
got ripped out," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "But you know what, maybe the ole luck has turned on Tennessee."
Though he was irate on the field, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin was calm and even-keeled when detailing his side of the story shortly after the game.
Gordon 90 Yd Interception Return for TD vs Vanderbilt
"They blew the play dead," Franklin said. "They blew him down, but they explained to me again why you can do that and it still counts.
"They explained every call on the sideline and I didn't have my rulebook. They explained it very well. (The referees) were very pleasant when they explained them."
Saturday's head referee, Marc Curles, has been through his fair share of controversial calls. After making questionable calls in two different games in October 2009, Curles and his crew were suspended for two weeks, a previously unprecedented move by the SEC.
Last night's crew wasn't entirely the same as the 2009 group.