Auburn QB Cameron Newton is the best player in the country. Auburn deserved to win their game with Arkansas because they played better. I am not a guy that blames a loss completely on the officials. Now that we have that out of the way, Penn Wagers (pictured)continues to be the most controversial and worst official in the SEC and the country. Wagers looked befuddled at times on Saturday. First, a look back at some of his previous transgressions.
Auburn went to the Swamp a few years ago and Penn Wagers called the most egregious penalty on Auburn/Florida punt that changed the game. I can still remember then Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville standing on the field screaming at Wagers as his headset was dragging on the ground.
There was the Georgia incident in 2008. Here is the explanation from blutarksy.wordpress.com as to why Georgia wasn’t awarded a first down on the defensive holding call in the first half boggles my mind.
The officiating crew led by head referee Penn Wagers, botched a defensive holding call in the first half. Mohamed Massaquoi drew a defensive holding penalty in the end zone, but the crew failed to award a first down. Richt blamed himself for not questioning the call more vigorously because he was unsure of the rule. Automatic first downs are only awarded for holds against eligible receivers and the referees were confused about whether Massaquoi, who wears jersey No. 1, was an eligible receiver…
The guy’s a senior. Last year, he burned Florida on an 84 yard TD reception in a game that these same clowns officiated. And they can’t recall whether he’s an eligible receiver?
Here is another link to Wagers mucking it up in the Holiday Bowl several years ago. And the links could just keep coming
Part-time Holy Turf consultant and full time Party Cousin, Max Moore, went with me to the Arkansas game at Alabama in 2007. Another game Penn Wagers was the head referee. Late in the game (:15 seconds left) with Arkansas up four and Alabama out of timeouts and their offense lost (think LSU at the end of the Tennessee game this year), Wagers gave the most generous clock stoppage ever to measure for an Alabama first down. The ball was over one yard short. Then, after the chains had been reset and Alabama was still in disarray, Wagers waited seven full seconds before winding the clock to allow Alabama more time to get their players in position. Those two mishaps in the Alabama game were poor officiating mechanics by Wagers. Now back to yesterday…
The official right in front of the Mario Fannin is it or is it not a touchdown threw his beanbag on the ground, which indicates a change of possession (meaning the official right in front of the play on the goal line thought it was a fumble). After Arkansas recovered, the referees stopped the clock and signaled first down Arkansas. Then, the officials huddled and signaled touchdown. Wagers then said the play was ruled a touchdown on the field and the play was under reviewThe linesman on the opposite side of the field and 40 yards from the ball overruled the linesman just a few yards from the field who threw his beanbag indicating he thought it was a fumble. Wagers should not have let the opposing linesman overrule, but he did. . After talking with a former football referee, he confirmed mechanically, this is wrong and a mistake by Wagers. Now, after initially signaling fumble, the call on the field was touchdown making an overrule of the bogus call of a touchdown to the correct call of fumble even more difficult, at least in theory. Regardless of the last paragraph, Fannin never got the ball to the end zone. Somehow Wagers and the replay official botched this. Remember this is a change of possession and not just 3rd and goal from the one for Auburn. In a game with few defensive stops and no turnovers until less than 10 minutes in the four quarter, this ruling was crucial.
The part of the game between the two awful, I mean controversial calls, was fascinating. Cam Newton (pictured) was barely stoppable. Arkansas felt victorious when holding Auburn to a field goal, which they did three times. It felt like Newton never handed the ball off, but I know he did. Newton was 10-14 for 140 yards passing with one touchdown, including a drop or two. Newton also had 189 yards rushing with three touchdowns. It is like reading a Tim Tebow stat line. Newton had at least three plays that were doomed for large losses that he turned into moderate gains. Those were painful for Hog fans watching Newton shuck defenders off of him. After Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett went out with a concussion, back up Tyler Wilson came into the game and was unflappable for four drives. Wilson completed 15 of his first 17 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Every time Wilson started a drive, usually at the 12 because return man Cobi Hamilton puts the breaks on when contact comes his way and cannot make anyone miss, he had to lead the Hogs to a touchdown to keep them in the game. Wilson carved up the Auburn defense and Knile Davis was a reliable option on the ground.
Then Wagers and his crew got back to work. After Hog RB Broderick Green gained enough yards for a first down on 3rd and short down 44-43 with under ten minutes in the fourth quarter, he was tackled by three Tigers and eventually fumbled. The same official that called fumble on Fannin in the first quarter threw his beanbag again, but few people thought the call would not be overturned. It would have been first down Arkansas, and the Hogs had scored four touchdowns on their last four drives. CBS announcers both said the call would be overturned, no fumble. However, Wagers and the replay official did their thing. First down Tigers! Ballgame!
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not believe that the SEC is out to protect their best team each season or out to screw Arkansas. I think Penn Wagers is the worst official in the country. I am ready to be on the correct end of his awful calls. Auburn deserved to win because they outplayed Arkansas over four quarters, but had any of the other SEC officials like Steve Shaw, Thomas Ritter, Hubert Owens, or Matt Austin been on the Plains, the game would have come down to who had the ball last, and we would not spend today talking about another horrendous day at the office by Penn Wagers and his crew. Here is the number to the SEC office: 205-458-3000. Rumor has it SEC Coordinator of Officials, Rogers Redding is at ext 3025. The Arkansas athletic department released this statement today.