The SEC football Twitter atmosphere got a little more interesting this week as the conference announced a new account dedicated to providing transparency to SEC rules and, most importantly, replays and controversial calls.
The conference’s @SECOfficiating Twitter handle became public around the time SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was addressing the media at SEC Media Days on Tuesday and rang in the beginning of its tenure with a tweet:
As expected, the replies to this tweet were ranging from humorous to volatile as SEC fans gained a more convenient way of harassing officials, a group that has earned a growing disdain from fan bases in recent years.
Although the SEC is attempting to provide more transparency to its replay decisions and show the reasoning behind some of its more controversial calls on the field, what this Twitter account will do in reality will be an entirely different matter. SEC fans (and fans of any sports team) are blindly loyal to their team of choice and are typically willing to defend their school when a call doesn’t go their way, especially on the internet.
While this new SEC officiating platform will provide a semblance of transparency to the replay process that so many fans have become antagonistic towards, it will really just create a new platform for people to get angry behind their keyboards towards the SEC officials in Birmingham.
What this new platform doesn’t change is the replay process itself, which is what has caused so much chagrin amongst college football fans in the first place. While it’s my opinion that instant replay helps the game by getting calls right on the field, there is always a gray area where making the correct call is difficult, even after analyzing replay.
Take A.J. Brown’s near-catch in overtime last season against Vanderbilt, a game that Ole Miss lost due to the overturned call. Or the targeting penalty on LSU linebacker Devin White that was not overturned after replay, leading some to put up #FreeDevinWhite billboards in Birmingham.
While we now will presumably get an inside look at the replay process via Twitter on Saturdays, that doesn’t mean that fans will agree with the calls made by the replay crews, and when those disagreements arise, the @SECOfficiating Twitter mentions will be a fire storm.
It’ll be interesting to see is if the SEC decides to keep up this experiment after this season or if it shuts it down due to the volatile nature of its comment section. Everything in our world—even in the world of sports—is moving more towards mobile and social media, and this is just another step in that process. With new modern ideas, however, comes new modern issues, and the SEC is about to have to face these head-on this fall.
Did the SEC’s replay process need more transparency? Absolutely. Fans want answers as to why calls are upheld or overturned on the field. But is the SEC willing to watch its Twitter mentions go down in flames each and every Saturday as a result? That remains to be seen.
If anything, it will provide a decent bit of entertainment to watch unfold.