Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
SEC guilty of targeting, not Catalon and Arkansas
The opinion began formulating Saturday afternoon, then continued through Sunday and Monday.
It seems the definition of targeting in football simply changes when SEC officials work a game with the University of Arkansas involved.
When Jalen Catalon knocked the stuffing out of LSU’s Kayshon Boutte after a 15-yard reception Saturday, that was football.
It wasn’t targeting, and it definitely wasn’t a cheap shot.
The SEC review crew zoo in Birmingham, Ala., has about 30 TVs but apparently not a pair of glasses to be found.
Or was the SEC just piling more on, like when the football schedule was released and the Hogs found preseason top-10 teams Florida and Georgia on it.
No one else got it stuck to them like the Hogs, who have the distinction of playing the toughest schedule in the history of college football.
Was Catalon targeted because he had been ejected in the first half of the Texas A&M game? The redshirt freshman has a growing reputation as a big hitter, but this targeting of him is ridiculous.
Saturday’s charge of targeting against him should have gotten some people fired, or at least an eye exam.
Replay after replay showed Catalon actually twisted his body to make sure it wasn’t targeting.
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek tweeted after the game he would be in contact with the proper SEC officials to see what could be done to ensure Catalon does not have to sit out the first half of the Hogs’ next game. Yurachek and the Hogs were told by the SEC there is no appeals process.
Catalon’s “penalty” moved the Tigers from their own 49 to the Arkansas 36.
Granted, also on that game-winning drive it appeared TJ Finley had passed for a 25-yard touchdown to Tyrion Davis-Price for LSU that was erroneously ruled an incompletion.
But five plays later, Finley passed to Jaray Jenkins for the actual game-winning touchdown that set the final score at 27-24.
Wait, there’s more.
Early in the second quarter, it seemed like the replay was more Arkansas at Auburn than the Razorbacks playing the Tigers.
On first and 10 from the LSU 30, John Emery fumbled. The official play-by-play says it was forced by Joe Foucha.
Foucha also recovered the ball. The whole country saw it.
Birmingham must be located somewhere else, because those guys ruled it was a fumble without a clear recovery.
That should sound familiar since it happened in the fourth quarter against Auburn when Foucha was victimized the first time.
The excuse given that time was that a whistle had blown and Auburn quit pursuing the fumble.
That wasn’t even true, and besides, when did it become the officials job to motivate players to do what they were taught to do since the first time they put on shoulder pads?
If you see a ball on the ground, go get it.
Don’t take any of this the wrong way. This is still an incredible year for the Razorbacks, and there are tons of reasons to believe the program is headed in the right direction much more quickly than most expected.
Yet, the Razorbacks would be 5-3 and in third place in the SEC West if not for bad officiating. Instead, they are 3-5.
Granted, the Hogs’ offense couldn’t convert a single third down Saturday. They also were missing six of their best defensive linemen, including two starters.
But they had a lead in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold it.
Still, it seems the Razorbacks were targeted by the officials and the SEC review crew zoo who continue to make some really obvious bad calls against the Hogs.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.