Wait, SEC Replay Officials Don’t Use HD Monitors?

It’s been a rocky year so far for the SEC officials, to say the least. They’ve been blowing replay calls with such frightening regularity that commentators have wondered aloud what the point of even having replay is if it’s not going to make anything better. Naturally, the conference’s response has been to slap a gag order on referee criticism, so hey, problem solved!

LSU TV capture Interception
(Can you see whether these feet are inbounds? If so, you probably weren’t in the replay booth last Saturday.)

The SEC isn’t completely insulated, though. To that end, the conference’s director of officials, Rogers Redding, addressed the media on Monday. He probably told people a little too much, though; for example, if you’re trying to increase your officials’ credibility, it probably isn’t a good idea to tell the media that officials are using worse TVs than the average fan is using.

From the BIRMINGHAM NEWS, excerpts of one of the more awkward pressers in recent SEC history:

“The instant replay rule is if you don’t have clear, 100 percent, absolute proof that the call on the field is incorrect, then you let it stand,” Redding said. “By the same token, if you don’t have the same level of proof that the call is correct, then you don’t confirm it. Re­garding this specific play, I’m just not going to com­ment about it.”

(Looking at picture above) (looking at Redding’s “no comment”) (Looking at picture again) Yeah, I wouldn’t comment on it either if I were you.

But as the headline indicates, the SEC - fresh off a $2.25 billion deal with ESPN with one of the most sweeping digital media policies in sports media history - not only can’t provide its own officials with that digital media during the course of a game, but often can’t reliably provide any media at all:

The replay system freezes often enough that Redding established a process for the referee to announce when the equipment is down.

[National coordinator of football officials David] Parry said the lack of high-definition television sets in replay booths is a growing concern around the country. The Pac-10 has asked Parry to place the is­sues of monitors on the agenda for a national meet­ing of officials in January.

The SEC does not use high-definition TVs. Red­ding said the current equip­ment is fine, but he wouldn’t oppose an up­grade.

Indeed, the only “HD” in the SEC replay booth is a “Horrible Decision.” /Mariotti‘d

Do you think in private company with SEC administration, Redding still maintains that the current equipment is fine?And that there’s no problem with a video feed that won’t stay up through the course of the game? Do you honestly think he’s not incensed about that?

If anything, this is the most convenient excuse possible for an embattled officiating crew. Granted, it opens the conference up for some criticism, but wouldn’t it be a shrewd move to say “Hey, you know what? Our zebras don’t have the best equipment possible, and you can tell when it comes to really close plays like the one above. They’re sure trying their hardest, but whenever you’re depending on limited technology, obviously there’s going to be flaws.”

In fact, if Redding maintains his officals’ current setup of regular televisions is fine, then what’s the point of an upgrade? That’d just be a waste of money; in this economy, we don’t invest in new equipment just for the hell of it, right?

So which is it?

What’s the SEC’s problem?

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