HOOVER, Ala. — More changes in officiating are coming in the Southeastern Conference, Commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday, with reforms that include adding a sideline monitor to improve official reviews and kickstarting a website and social media platforms that are dedicated to officiating within the conference.
Sankey, in his fifth year as SEC commissioner, said the conference worked with a consulting firm during the spring, which took a close look at officiating by speaking with all the SEC athletic directors and coaches, analyzed the league’s game reports and officiating performance reviews and comparing the conference’s officiating performance reviews.
Ultimately, Sankey said the firm’s counsel led to the SEC to focus on improving communication between the league’s officials and its coaches.
The SEC sent its head officials to Destin during its annual spring meetings to spend time with the conference’s head coaches. Officiating crews will also visit every SEC campus in August for a two-day camp, where they’ll “foster communication” by participating in on-field practices and discussing rules and techniques with players.
Communication is the key word, and Sankey said that’s at the core of adding a sideline monitor at all football games for official reviews. The monitor will allow the on-field referees to review the play, communicate with the in-stadium replay booth and the SEC’s video center.
The monitor, Sankey said, will help the officials “better explain replay decisions from the official to the coaches on the field.”
Sankey said the changes weren’t “triggered” by any one play or game, adding that “we know there’s an ongoing need for self-examination” when it comes to officiating.
The 2018 season had plenty of officiating controversy, including when Devin White was ejected for targeting during the second half of the Mississippi State game, which forced him to miss the first half of a top three matchup with Alabama.
Media days moving again
SEC media days are back here in their traditional home this year, but they are just passing through.
Sankey announced Monday that the 2020 SEC media days will return to Atlanta for next year’s event, then move on to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2021.
Like last year’s event, the 2020 media days will be held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The 2018 media days marked the first time since the event was launched in 1985 that it was held somewhere other than the Birmingham area. The 2021 media days will be held at the Grand Hyatt in Nashville.
Sankey did not say when media days would return here to Hoover, a few miles away from the SEC’s headquarters in downtown Birmingham. Before 2018, SEC media days were held here from 2001-17 as well as from 1988-91.
Arlington, Texas, and AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and the Cotton Bowl, was also considered a contender to host the event.
This year’s SEC media days run through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey hotel.
Derek Dooley as The Joker
Missouri linebacker Cale Garrett has a word for offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, a former assistant at LSU and head coach at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee:
“He jokes and most of the time you laugh,” Garrett said. “It’s like … uncomfortable. He’s laughing way more. He’s like me, he cracks himself up just as much.”
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Joe versus the hurricane
LSU quarterback and Ohio native Joe Burrow came away less than impressed by his first brush with a hurricane over the weekend.
“Everyone was hyping it on Twitter and on the news and it like drizzled for four days,” Burrow said of Hurricane Barry.
He did learn about the existence of hurricane parties, though.
“I said, ‘Isn’t it dangerous out there?’” Burrow recalled. “They said, ‘No, we’re going to have fun.’
"I didn’t go.”
Instead, with his cable out Burrow spent days watching YouTube videos on scientific topics.
“I’m interested in astrophysics, quantum physics, relativity,” Burrow said. “Black holes. Time travel. There’s this theory of white holes.”
“I can go on all day.”
The Advocate’s Brooks Kubena, Scott Rabalais, Wilson Alexander and Jim Kleinpeter contributed to this report.