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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Playing favorites in the SEC?


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Are there genuinely favorites in the SEC when it comes to the getting calls? Do certain teams get more breaks?

Echoing what his head coach hinted at earlier this week, Tennessee assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron thinks so.

Orgeron, who was the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07, told the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Monday that something didn't smell right with some of the calls in the Vols' 12-10 loss to Alabama last weekend.

"Seems like some people get the calls and some people don't," Orgeron said, as reported by The Knoxville News-Sentinel. "I've been in this league, and I've been a part of that. Whether that's true or not, you can never prove that.

"I do know this: There were some very questionable calls in that game that could have went either way and they went Alabama's side. There were very questionable calls throughout the season and it seems they go for the better team. Whether that's true or not, we can never prove that but that's what it seems like."

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has already been reprimanded by the SEC for his public criticism of the officials, his second reprimand since taking the job, and was warned by SEC commissioner Mike Slive in his reprimand letter that any future violation of league policy could result in his suspension.

Clearly, the Vols think they were jobbed last Saturday in what was a bitter loss to Alabama. It was a game in which Tennessee played extremely well and garnered all sorts of respect nationally for how hard it played and how well prepared it was for the No. 2 team in the BCS standings.

And while you always want to stand up for your players, at what point does all this woofing about the officiating become whining?

Kiffin's frustrated, and who could blame him? He's taken lesser talented teams to both Alabama and Florida and gone toe-to-toe with two of the top teams in the country, only to fall a few points short.

This Tennessee team plays hard, is extremely well-coached and would appear to be on its way back to elite status in the SEC somewhere down the road.

But don't ruin all the gains you've made by spouting off pouty things like a "magical flag" might appear or that you're "not going to let the refs lose the game for us."

For one, if you really do believe there's favoritism in the SEC, you think publicly calling into question the officials' integrity is going to win you a lot of breaks the rest of the way?

Probably not.

But, then, Kiffin's probably not going to bite his lip, either. It's not his style.

It's going to be an interesting next few years in this league and even more interesting to see how this whole Slive-Kiffin relationship evolves.