One day after the SEC confirmed its officiating crew made a critical mistake in the final seconds of Saturday night's Florida-Tennessee game, Gators coach Ron Zook said he will let athletic director Jeremy Foley deal with the aftermath because he and the team need to let go and move on.
"I'm worried about Kentucky," Zook said Monday. "Jeremy will do the things that he needs to do to resolve that. I'm worried about the next game, the next play right now."
The controversial call occurred with 55 seconds left in the game and the Gators leading by 28-27. Florida receiver Dallas Baker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after he slapped Tennessee defensive back Jonathan Wade across the helmet with his open hand.
Television replays showed Wade hit Baker in a similar manner first.
The officials not only failed to assess off-setting penalties, which SEC coordinator of football officials Bobby Gaston said would have been the correct call, they incorrectly stopped the clock until Florida snapped the ball to punt.
Gaston said the clock should have started after the 15-yard penalty was walked off. Had the clock continued running, Florida could have let it run down to about 30 seconds before punting.
Instead, Tennessee got the ball on its 39 with 43 seconds left. That turned out to be just enough time to drive and set up James Wilhoit's 50-yard field goal with six seconds left for the 30-28 victory.
Gaston said Sunday night the seven-man officiating crew will be reprimanded but the specific punishment will not be made public. Zook said that was little consolation.
"Around here, they worry about one thing, winning and losing, that's all that matters," he said.
UF declined to allow Baker to speak with reporters after Monday night's practice. Zook said Baker and kicker Matt Leach, who missed a 21-yard field goal late in the third quarter that would have given Florida a 10-point lead, were recovering fine.
"Matt's been through a lot worse than this," Zook said. "And what did Dallas do? Dallas reacted. Now was he wrong? Yes. We can't do that. He knows that. But I bet you about 99 percent of the people if that happened, you all saw it, he reacted. He didn't even think.
"That's a lesson he learned. But that isn't what lost the game. What happened after that had as much to do with it as anything."
While the loss was heartbreaking, Zook said the team's mind-set was good during Monday's two-hour practice.
"The mood is good," he said. "Like I told them when we got done watching the tape (Monday), that game's over with. I don't worry about this team being resilient.
"They know what they've got to do."
Leach said he dwelled on his missed field goal all weekend but is ready to move forward. He said his teammates have been extra supportive of him and Baker and it was unfortunate the game turned on a bad call.
"The saying is they always catch the second guy, and that stands true," Leach said. "(Baker) did the same exact thing the guy did to him, and the ref was watching on both and pulled the flag on the second guy. And that happened to be Dallas, and he paid for it."