Ole Miss fell at home to Auburn 35-28 in a barn-burner on Saturday afternoon, and one critical play in the game didn't exactly sit well with coach Lane Kiffin. The Rebels took a 28-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter, and on the ensuing kickoff, the ball appeared to graze the pinky of Auburn's Shaun Shivers. Ole Miss went on to recover in the end zone, but the referees ruled on the field that Shivers did not touch it, and replay referees did not buzz down to the field to provide further review of the play.
Apparently the explanation that Kiffin received from the SEC regarding the controversial play wasn't good enough, and he elaborated on that conversation during Monday's press conference.
"I was late for this [press conference] because I was on the phone with [SEC director of officials] John McDaid ... the SEC," Kiffin said. "I really struggle with this a lot. I just had the conversation with him. He called to explain what happened. I really wish, for our players, for our fans, that they could hear what I was just told. I think they deserve to. But I asked...they made sure to tell me there's a policy that I can't tell you, the players or the fans what their, if you want to call it, explanation for that situation and how TV ... everybody in the country could see it hit him."
He also explained the conversation that he had on the field with officials after the game wasn't stopped for replay review.
"I asked the side judge why aren't they replaying it, do I need to challenge it? He said, 'They've already looked at it. There's nothing there.' I'm not allowed to say anything more about the conversation, but I really wish the fans and the players could hear what I was told," Kiffin said. "I had to take like a five-minute power yoga class before I walked in here."
Kiffin's frustration wasn't limited to his comments on Monday as, over the weekend, the coach utilized his Twitter account to air his grievances with the call. In response to Kiffin voicing his frustration over social media, the SEC announced that it was fining Kiffin $25,000 for "his use of social media Saturday after the game made in violation of SEC Bylaw 10.5 related to officiating."
Though the conference reprimanded Kiffin, it also admited an officiating error on the play, stating, "the replay official should have stopped the game for further review of the play. In the football officiating replay process every play is reviewed but, when appropriate, the game is stopped for further review."
"Because the play was not appropriately stopped for further review, the necessary slow-motion view of the play was not viewed by the replay official to determine if the ruling on the field should have been reversed," the statement said.
Instead of taking a two-touchdown lead, Auburn took possession and stopped Ole Miss' second-half momentum. Auburn punted on the ensuing drive, but a touchdown pass from Bo Nix to Seth Williams with under two minutes to play and subsequent two-point conversion gave the Tigers the win.
The loss dropped the Rebels to 1-4 in Kiffin's first season as the program's head coach. They'll visit Vanderbilt on Saturday in their quest for win No. 2 in 2020.