SAPAKOFF COLUMN: SEC crew missed the Shaw play
Of course, the SEC officiating crew had an excuse for wanting to keep Saturday night's South Carolina-Arkansas game moving along. The faster the action in Fayetteville, the more chances to see missed field goals in the LSU-Alabama show.
Or maybe the guys in black and white stripes missed Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette's hit on South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw because they were monitoring Jordan Jefferson on a Droid.
How else to explain why Bequette was not penalized or ejected for a fourth-quarter play that sealed the 44-28 victory for Arkansas and left Shaw with a concussion.
Check out the replay, analyze the photographic evidence. Bequette, intentionally or not, led with the crown of his headgear and launched himself helmet-to-helmet into a defenseless quarterback.
Down 37-28, Shaw was attempting to pass when Bequette forced a fumble with 5:12 remaining. Fellow pass rusher DeQuinta Jones recovered at the South Carolina 1, Arkansas scored and the celebrating started.
Not like the Gamecocks were going to win if officials had whistled Bequette for a personal foul and ejected him from the game.
Don't mean to hint that Shaw was one play away from completing a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery that would have set up a Jay Wooten onside kick that probably would have been recovered by Melvin Ingram to set up a game-winning touchdown run by Bruce Ellington from wildcat formation to push South Carolina up beyond Boise State in the BCS standings.
Uh, probably not.
But how does an entire officiating crew miss a play like that?
I tried to ask Shaw about it Monday. You know, Steve Shaw, the SEC's Coordinator of Football Officials (no relation). He didn't return phone calls.
The SEC did, however, name Bequette its co-defensive lineman of the week for his three-sack performance.
Connor Shaw and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier did not have media availability Monday in Columbia, but someone on George Rogers Boulevard almost certainly asked the SEC to review the tape.
The Gamecocks must focus on fixing their own problems, which includes an injury-riddled offense, before Saturday's important SEC East matchup against Florida. The Vegas oddsmakers have not yet set a line on the game because of uncertainty at the quarterback position.
And SEC officials, overall, have had an excellent season.
But the SEC, like the NFL and every youth league on the planet, has to protect defenseless players and prevent head injuries with disciplinary action when called for.
Message to LSU?
"Jake Bequette again," ESPN's Brad Nessler said on the air just after the hit. "He's been a thorn in Connor Shaw's backside all night."
Very tough on Shaw's scrambled brain, too.
A "perfectly-timed hit," ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge said.
A tad too perfectly?
Bequette, by all accounts, is a swell individual. The 6-5, 271-pound redshirt senior is the fourth member of his family to play football for the Razorbacks. The Little Rock native already has a Finance degree and is a graduate student.
But this is the second game in a row Arkansas has come under scrutiny for a dangerous hit. Razorbacks punt coverage speedster Marquel Wade was suspended for the South Carolina game for blasting Vanderbilt punt returner Jonathan Krause before the ball arrived during Arkansas' 31-28 victory in Nashville.
Which makes you wonder.
Maybe it wasn't just the SEC officiating crew looking ahead to LSU. Maybe Arkansas wants to make the Bayou Bengals a little nervous going into their only difficult game left on the regular-season schedule, when the Razorbacks roll into Baton Rouge on Nov. 25.