Former VP of NFL officiating: SEC referees losing integrity, credibility


UPDATED: The Southeastern Conference responded to Mike Pereira’s claims.

Mike Pereira twice has noticed something with SEC officiating that has him “really pissed.”

Pereira is a familiar name to football fans of all walks. The former NFL Vice President of Officiating is currently an officiating analyst for FOX Sports, giving his input on various decisions throughout both college and NFL broadcasts. Pereira has apparently been paying close attention to the SEC this season, and he had some harsh words for the conference’s officials.

In his column on Sunday, Pereira called out SEC officials for some shady behavior in recent weeks, saying that the conference is losing its integrity and credibility. He professes his admiration for the league, but blasts the officiating.

In Mississippi State’s win over Auburn two weeks ago, Pereira noticed officials communicating with someone off the field through their headsets as they debated whether or not to pick up a flag for intentional grounding, which he called a farce.

In Alabama’s win at Tennessee on Saturday, Pereira called “bull” again. In the first quarter, Tennessee punted the ball away, and Alabama fielded it with a fair catch. A personal foul was called on the play, after which the officials huddled up. Pereira said it was clear the referees were clearly communicating with someone off the field again, this time about how to enforce the penalty. Pereira said 2:36 of real time elapsed between the end of the play and their official call.

Pereira says in his column that, two weeks ago, he reached out to national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding, the former SEC officials coordinator, about who was on the communications system. Pereira was told the headsets only allow officials to communicate with each other on the field, which the former NFL official does not buy.

“But now it appears the SEC has someone that nobody else has — a mystery man. I’m not sure where he is, but he’s providing information to the officials on the field. If the SEC denies it, they’re not telling the truth,” Pereira said.

As it stands now, conferences have either seven or eight officials on the field. The SEC uses seven referees, with one alternate that assists with line of scrimmage calls, according to Pereira. Based on what he has seen, Pereira accuses the SEC of playing by its own set of rules.

“It was unacceptable in that Auburn-Mississippi State game — and it was unacceptable in the Alabama-Tennessee game. If (SEC commisioner Mike) Slive condones this and Redding fails to investigate and stop it, then the SEC and the NCAA have a big problem in officiating,” Pereira said. “In my eyes, their officiating staff is losing their credibility.”

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  • This sounds like someone wanting to rock the boat and make themselves look like the “knew it all along”. I know sometimes there may be so inconsistencies in officiating but I don’t thinks it’s a conspiracy.

    • It is hard to buy something so sinister. But at the same time, this guy knows a lot more about officiating than we do and I’m not sure how he stands to gain from rocking the boat like you say. ‘I knew it all along’ only works if it’s actually true.

      • I agree bill.. I’ve noticed shady calls lately myself, none of which I’ll bring up but who knows if it’s a conspiracy or what it is, either way they need to address it and fix it

        • Not that I disagree, Corey, but a statement like “none of which I’ll bring up” sounds like a fancy way of saying “I just want to be internet smart, without using actual facts”.

        • Corey here are some facts for that the douche bag below. Sorry most will be Auburn related because that is where most of my caring/watching lies.

          I don’t know if these officials know what pass interference is, especially the back judge in the Auburn/MSST game. He screwed us twice, the long gain from Coates (60+ yard gain called back that ended the drive) and a PI call on defense that put MSST in scoring position instead of 4th down.

          Missed a big tripping call in the SC/AU game, it was a dirty play that could have resulted in an injury and the player received no penalty for it.

          Another PI call in the SC/AU game that was called when the ball was thrown 10 yards out of bounds.

          Finally AU had two #1’s on the field on the last play of the SC game and it was not called.

          Those are just a FEW from Auburn’s last two games, some of which are complete game changers. There are plenty of shenanigans going on in the SEC officiating that needs to be taken care of.

        • Blitz, read above. I said I did not disagree with the assertion. I just made a comment about a half-cocked statement that comes across as an attempt to sound internet-smart. Continue.

      • You people who think that there are no officiating problems in the SEC should actually watch an SEC game sometime. SEC football officiating is either the most incompetent officiating on the planet or hopelessly corrupt. And it’s been that way for years now. People who watch the SEC regularly have been complaining about it for years and now outsiders are starting to notice as well and even worse bring it to national attention. The harm this outrageous situation is doing to the SEC in particular and to college football in general is potentially huge. Fans will only take so much before they write off the sport as fixed and therefore undeserving of their attention and their dollars.

        • I am one of those that has complained for years. I have seen one sided officiating for years where similar events have been consistently called different for the two teams playing. My Dad told me years ago that many referees were former players who probably let their biases affect their calls. I don’t know if that is true but something sure stinks and I have seen too many undeserved wins and losses caused by refereeing.

  • Bull….he never said anything bad regarding officials while he was working as one. Now all of the sudden the network hires him and he is a critic. That is shady.

    • Hmmm; sounds about right.

    • Come on human. There is 100% difference in being on the field and being in the booth. It could be that he is just now seeing it for the first time and realizing how badly they have been screwing this up. His point is valid beyond belief. I can assure you that any normal person knows Kentucky was screwed by the refs against Florida and South Carolina was screwed in the Auburn game. That is just two of the many, many screw-ups this year. I don’t believe it is a big conspiracy I believe it is incompetence/don’t care. Will you tell me what you think about the KY-FL game? Do you think the refs did the right thing? How about responding to the USC (east)-Auburn game last play?

  • I have the game recorded and went back and watched the call in the Bama game. Three officials did huddle for over two minutes and at times none of them were talking, rather appeared to be listening to someone over their headsets. It appears the man knows what he is talking about.

  • With the calls they have missed and no-calls that they have made this year, they lost credibility around the second week of theseason…

  • For some reason I’m thinking this “mystery man” wears a lot of crimson and denim that covers lot’s of misspelled tattoos.

    • once again another comment that bears no truth or facts.

    • Ah yes a coded message as if human is a spy!!! Really, does this have common sense meaning to you? You do realize that many teams have crimson or close don’t you? Let me explain to you the art of commenting. When you post a comment it should be one that others can comprehend. It serves no purpose to write something that you are thinking without explaining the little voices in your head.

    • Funny because complaints were from many different teams fans. And its always when the calls go against their team. Could THAT be a conspiracy?

  • What about the South Carolina/Auburn game when Auburn had duplicate No. 1 jerseys on the field on last play of game????

    • What about the play a couple of plays before that when Auburn stopped them on 4th down, but the drive continued because of another BS pass interference call?

      • What about the BS offensive interference on Coates that would of tied the game with Miss. St. early in the third quarter? What about the BS interference call on Auburn when they had stopped Miss. St. inside the red zone which directly led to another MSU TD?

        • what about the 3 turnovers that lead to a 21-0 lead for MSU. Cannot blame one call for an entire game

      • Or the missed tripping call in the SC game that could have gotten someone injured.

        • How about the rough play in football that could have gotten someone injured. Should that be called a penalty too?

    • I do realize you are a bammer and are used to your defensive backs literally raping receivers and getting away with it.

    • Who knows whats going on . Those refs do and steve shaw in the SEC office… conspiracy or not, Shady crap by the replay judge and BS calls are abundent by the SEC officials. game changing calls that are not consistant from one to another. other people see it. when a replay judge makes a call like the bama lsu game.. The kentucky Fla game was BS , When a players facemask is ripped off and nothing happens , Bs. that changes the outcome and its shady..that sucks..the PI in the Aub Miss st game..that was pure BS , the fumble in the endzone at the Aub Tam game ..pure BS . certain teams get away with mugging and holding ..its part of their game because the sec refs . Allow the refs to be questioned about their calls in the games like players and coaches..They have a hand in the outcome, So answer up refs…Steve shaw is the problem if nothing is done..and roger redding…those guys know whats up. Pereira knows what he is talking about. All we are asking is for a pure game. Not the shananigans we see every game of importance …Let the games outcome be pure..not helped by a ref.

  • I agree with Pereira. In addition to the games he mentioned, look at Florida wins. Twice Florida should have lost – to Kentucky and to Tennessee and questionable calls are what changed the outcome of the game. Among a missed pass interference call in the in zone, both times they turned a blind eye to a snap after the clock expired. Both times it gave the Gators an undeserved victory. Looks fishy to me…

  • I’ve noticed some shady calls for the past few years. It’s about time someone stepped out of the woodwork and said something publically about it. They’re either imagining slights or they’re not calling actual fouls that happen on plays. I think it’s time for some layoffs if they don’t start stepping up their game and stop playing favorites.

    • Hes not saying the calls themselves were shady, he’s saying they are talking to someone on headset about the calls and that’s what he thinks is shady. Did not say anything about the calls being bad calls. Sounds like nothing to me. TN/Bama game was almost penalty free and they just about equaled out.

      • Equaled out? Four times, not once, but four times Cooper entered the field late from the Bama sidelines which should have allowed TN to sub as well, all four times the refs allowed play to continue with Tn not able to sub in their nickle package giving Cooper the favorable match up against a line backer,,,,,,,Bama’s good enough already, shouldn’t need any help!..and can somebody in the SEC please call holding?

        • Amen to the holding. Officials never called an offensive holding penalty in the Missouri-Vanderbilt game, but defenders were regularly being taken to the ground with obvious holds.

    • So what is the conspiracy? Some multinational conglomerate of CEOs, politicians and the illumanti are trying to rig college football games? Not just any college football games, but SEC college football games?

      • Finally someone with common sense. Every SEC football team fans have complained about bad calls. Interestingly, they only point out the calls that went against THEIR team.

  • I am a little confused. The NFL officials don’t communicate with replay officials who aren’t on the field? I am pretty sure they do. So what if there is an official up in a booth somewhere looking at footage to determine if there is anything to look at? Or it could simply be someone somewhere with the rule book who is looking up the exact guidelines in-case there is a question. It can be difficult to remember every stipulation of ever penalty.

  • The biggest trouble SEC officials may now have is a lot of new ones due to the NFL hiring from the SEC

  • I think there’s always this many bad calls or non calls, but I would like to know who the hell is the replay official….this was the second Bama game I’ve watched where a play should have resulted in a touchdown but no one reviewed the play, as it turned out in both games the touchdown was scored a few plays later, but that could be big in future games. Saturday, TJ Yeldon fumbled the ball near the goal line and actually recovered his own fumble in the end zone but the ball was placed on the half yard line. I can’t remember if this is the rule or should have been a score. NFL and college differ on this situation I think, but I could be wrong. Might have something to do with the offense in college not being able to advance the ball if it’s fumbled forward.

  • What do you mean, “Losing credibility”? SEC Officials have no credibility, unless you’re Bamer. They screw use in every time they are on the field. I could list a hundred examples, but, why. The even screwed ND and gave FSU a victory. I honestly believe that they are ordered to help the teams that have the best chance to mske the playoffs. The playoffs or any championship game, means s lot of money for the conference and they are going to make sure the SEC gets in the money.

  • For as far back as I can remember, there has been favoritism by officials in the SEC. It’s nothing new. But this year it seems as if these calls are more blatantly game changing. And yes, the Gumps are usually the beneficiaries but there have always been teams the officials seem to carry more of a “grudge” against than actually trying to benefit a favorite. There seriously needs to be some real accountability for these officials with a nonpartisan review board (ie. not just in Birmingham).

  • The fact that Penn Wagers still has a job is all the proof you need that SEC officiating has no credibility. His name is pretty much synonymous with bad officiating.

  • It’s not just the SEC. When Auburn played Kansas State there was not ONE flag thrown all night on Kansas State. But, back to the original convo…there are so many missed holding calls but then they call targeting at the most random times. Their ball spotting has not been great. I think their idea of Pass Interference has gotten ridiculous!

    • If you watch more K-State games you’ll see that they never get penalized because they don’t make stupid mistakes. Bill Snyder’s teams have always been that way.

  • The SEC is going to do anything it can do to get 2 teams in. One of them will be Alabama, the other will have to fight referees and a good Western schedule. The SEC is dirty, but its the only game in town.

  • Sounds like Danny Sheridan and the bag man scheme all over again. How the hell does he know who they are or aren’t talking to…there is an official in the booth as well. Listening to McElroy on the radio this am already had me pissed but this is even crazier. Sirius XM needs to put Bill King back in his rightful spot cause McElroy is the biggest baby kissing football analyst/politician I’ve ever heard. He was giving ND lots and lots of love…like they need any help. The talking heads would push the Irish if they were all on crutches….even after beat the hell out of a more heralded team with bigger name players!

  • As an official I can tell you there are 7 officials on the field all of whom wear a communication device that ONLY communicates with the others on the field. During an interruption in play (this case an personal foul) each official has a responsibility, one will hold the spot, another covers the flag etc… when the officials appear to be listening to ‘the mystery man’ they are simply communicating with each other on the field. Another official may have a different vantage point of the called foul, they may be discussing penalty enforcement. Any of these things may be being discussed. The only ones who will ever know are those that are attempting to get the call right…

    • OK. If you’re an official, can you explain why SEC refs routinely ignore holding, even when a player is dragged to the ground by an offensive lineman?

      • They don’t ignore holding, they just only call it when there isn’t a hold AKA why UGA has a loss.

      • This is a huge problem, and a favorite foul of interior offensive line men. Grabbing the shirt or the shoulderpads chest protector. Auburn always has a least one horrible offender. Malzahn knows his assistant coaches go over the line. This is why he doesn’t qualify as a top coach yet. But across the NCAA this is an easy foul for player who can’t do their job otherwise to stoop to. Tough one to see for the officials on all plays. Maybe the rules should change to have O-linemen always have their hand up high and visible. Open palms or closed fist either way high enough to be seen.

      • Typically a hold is not called unless it impacts the outcome of the play…

  • I agree something smells. When Bama lost to Ole Miss we had a TD called back for being out of bounds but Ole Miss had the same thing and theres was good. Also some of the targeting calls all around the SEC do not look like anything but regular tackles. I had been saying all year something was wrong with the officials.

  • I wasn’t watching all that closely but I do think that Auburn got the short end of the stick with the offensive PI call in the MSU game.

    Tell you what though. I’ve lived through several seasons in the Pac10/12; SWC/ Big12/ Big whatever: and SEC country. They all have one thing in common. The fan bases of each are in general agreement that THEIR conference has THE WORST officiating in the country.

  • #1 teams make the SEC a lot of money!
    see Arkansas vs Florida 2009.

  • Look at the Alabama hit on a Tennessee receiver, popped out a big fumble, no flag. Then look at the exact same hit Missouri kick coverage on a Vanderbilt player, flag, targeting, ejection, review, no change. CLEARLY THIS WAS NOT HELMET TO BODY CONTACT. The Missouri player knew he hit the guy legally, Coach Pinkel had a clear view of it and knew it was legal. You think this kind of officiating doesn’t change the way tackles are made for the rest of the game ???? Those ridiculous block in the back and interference calls on Bud Sasser, oh come on !! Takes a lot for National TV color men to call the officials out.

  • It seems that many people are misreading the article and venting about perceived or probable bad calls. He’s referring to the sudden and inexplicable stops of the game, not even a flag sometimes, where the refs are confabbing, but seem to be waiting for a response. He’s dead right, there are actually two instances in the MSState/AU game. Does anyone remember the chains confusion. Just stopped the game and seemed to wait for a command from on high. Had to have been at least a full minute, maybe more, and stopped all foward momentum of the offense. Even if whatever they are doing is not illegal, it needs to stop! It’s affecting the players, seems to have effects on the outcome of some games, and is definitely distracting the officials from actually doing their job. People have whined about officials favoring teams in the SEC for years, I never really saw it (though the team in that was favored to win the conference seemed to have it a tiny bit easier). Fans have been putting down our refs for decades, but they used to be the best. What the hell happened? There have been some real headscratchers this year, and with the scrutiny tighter than ever, then you have this other bs going on. It’s just plain stupid. Come January, the SEC should completely reinvent the training for these guys and maybe bring in someone unaffiliated to hold them all accountable. Start at the top, replace each person until there is the desired result.

    • Dont forget they also take TV timeouts, and those can be drive killers. Got a defense that’s gassed, take a TV timeout and let them catch their breath.

  • I agree and there is something shady going on. On Georgias game winning field goal versus Tennessee the play clock clearly ran out before the ball was hiked. WTH?

  • I was told referees are “trained” as someone put it, or attend ref school in one of two places, and one of the two is @ Auburn. Would the ref on this thread speak on this please? :-)

  • Could it be , just maybe that the on field officials are talking to the replay official before a replay is actually called to get a better view of things. Or could it be that this NFL “expert” is wrong and the refs are actually talking among themselves? But that would go against any conspiracy theory so that can’t be right.

  • I know a fans team is watched with favor to that team. I see a close call differently than the fan on the other side. What allowed us to access that part of our brains that autocorrect to a Bulldog win. At the end of the game, half of the fans will be happy and half the fans will be sad and they all witnessed the same event. Please, retire Mr. Hubert Owens. UGA will never win a close game with Owens officiating. He called back the 56 yd Told Gurley TD on a Phantom holding call. That would given UGA a good lead and momentum. Owens calls against UGA. I don’t know who he is for, but I know he cannot stand UGA and this is unfair. UGA got beat by FL and a good Tech team. Hubert Owens beat us in Columbia, SC.

  • In the Alabama vs. Tennessee on 10/24/2015, the referees missed 5 obvious calls that went against Alabama that added up to over 100 yards of field position. They missed 2 obvious calls that went against Tennessee adding up to about 30 yards of total field position.

    Three of the ones missed that went against Alabama were a hold on Tennessee’s last touchdown (wide receiver pulled down cornerback), a “chop block” that wasn’t a chop block because the Alabama Guard was not engaged with the defender that cost us a 20+ year pass play and a pass interference call, that wasn’t called, on Calvin Ridley on a back shoulder fade where the cornerback pulled Ridley down. These happened to all be huge moments in the game that cost Alabama big time.

    The referees haven’t been very good all year long. But they were really bad in this game. Glad that Alabama was able to overcome all those pathetic calls/non-calls.

  • I’ve seen fishy calls for years. Auburn had a lot go their way the Cam Newton season. They also have been getting hosed lately. Arkansas had a call go against them that allowed Auburn to get into OT. Georgia Tennessee was just bad all around both directions. Texas A&M got away with a bunch of calls Vs Bama and So did Tennessee (even the anouncers mentioned it a few times) One was a head shot to Coker that was not called. LSU seems to get favorable calls in big games. The list goes on and on. My theory is the refs are talking to the replay offical, who is watching tape. Make the call on the field and let replay overturn it IF there is video evidence that says a call should be overturned. Now If Notre Dame were in the SEC I could list several that they get. I recall years ago when Sports Illustrated did a photo of a Penn St. Alabama field that had a cut out on one end where a Bama player was in bounds but rulled out on a catch, and a section where a Penn State player was out of bounds but rulled in bounds for a catch. It’s nothing new human error. With replay most of this kind of thing should go away. If you have ever reffed a game (any sport) you know that blown calls are a reality.