Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason reportedly plans to make a call to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. And he has the full support of Commodores fans who feel slighted by a crucial decision by the replay officials during a 23-16 loss to Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Commodores LB Zach Cunningham, who may have recorded the league’s special teams play of the year later in the contest, forced what was called an Auburn fumble by the officials on the field early in the second half. At the time, the Commodores enjoyed a 13-10 lead over the No. 9 team in the country.
After a long deliberation, it was determined by video review that there was conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field and return the ball to Auburn’s offense. The Tigers scored a go-ahead touchdown on the next play and did not trail for the remainder of the game.
Many people who cover college football for a living were perplexed by the call at the time it happened.
Here’s a look at the play in question:
Zach Cunningham is RELENTLESS. Forces a huge fumble by wrenching the ball from Kerryon Pettway's hands pic.twitter.com/E4G1JHPOpO
— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) November 5, 2016
After the game, The Tennessean’s Adam Sparks reported that Mason would seek a conversation with both Sankey and director of officials Steve Shaw, presumably in search of an explanation for the decision to overturn the call.
Vandy coach Derek Mason said he'll be calling SEC commish Greg Sankey & SEC dir/officials Steve Shaw about overturn of Auburn fumble in 3Q
— Adam Sparks (@AdamSparks) November 5, 2016
While Mason may simply be looking for some clarification, this is a scenario that is hardly new for Vanderbilt fans. Many Commodores fans feel the team does not receive a fair shake on calls against the conference powers, particularly when the game may be close and a team, such as No. 9 Auburn, has much more hanging in the balance on the outcome.
Some fans expressed their displeasure on Twitter:
SEC officials took another one. Keep your head up Vandy Nation we are on the rise. Great job Coach Mason and staff. Go Dore's ⚓️⬇️….
— Ruffin Hamilton (@HamiltonRuffin) November 5, 2016
Although remember, if it's close, SEC refs decide based on AP ranking and how good your team was in the 1970s
— #DE41 (@VandyImport) November 5, 2016
Too bad Vandy offensive improvement will be overshadowed by the complete incompetence of the refs on that reversed fumble call.
— Hayley Ryskoski (@hbryskoski) November 5, 2016
.@GregSankey your refs are terrible. Watch Vanderbilt – Auburn game.
— Vandy_62⚓⬇ (@vandy_62) November 5, 2016
And come on Auburn. The refs shouldn't have to beat Vandy for you. If you're 9 you should be able to handle that yourself.
— Zachary Dutton (@zjdutton_RTR) November 5, 2016
The refs are still finding brand new ways to screw Vandy. That’s sort of impressive.
— jortsweeper (@wjb13) November 5, 2016
Of course, in the interest of being fair and balanced, there’s also a compelling gripe to be made by Auburn fans about a no-call during the game’s final drive. Vanderbilt converted a 4th and 18 on a wild pass attempt that probably should’ve been blown dead before it transpired.
Take a look at the play clock on this one:
— Brandon Goebel (@BrandinGobull) November 5, 2016
The conclusion? Officials aren’t perfect and mistakes are made. But give Vanderbilt fans this much — they DO care.