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Hartselle Enquirer

SEC official Shaw entertains Hall of Fame attendees with stories

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
DECATUR – Attendees at the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday got a humorous inside look at college football through the eyes of a man who gets closer to the game than nearly anyone.
Steve Shaw, a veteran official who has spent the past 11 years working football games for the SEC, was the guest speaker at the Hall of Fame ceremony. He has been on crews for some of the biggest football games of the last decade, including the 2000 Sugar Bowl and 2005 Orange Bowl, which were both national championship games.
Shaw played on stereotypes of officials, taking advantage of several opportunities to give himself and his profession some self-deprecating humor.
"You can't imagine how close the relationships between officials are; it's like a family," he said. "Of course, when you walk into (Tennessee's) Neyland Stadium and there's 108,000 of them and seven of you, you get close real quick."
Shaw is an alumnus of Alabama and is not allowed to officiate Crimson Tide games, though he has worked several games featuring Auburn. He told a story of a game in 2005 when Auburn and LSU met in Baton Rouge.
On the first play of scrimmage in a loud Tiger Stadium, Tuberville tried to call timeout before the ball was snapped, and Shaw tried to blow his whistle to signal the play dead. Auburn snapped the ball anyway and quarterback Brandon Cox took a slight shove from an LSU defensive lineman before the players realized the play was dead and Auburn received its timeout. Tuberville then called Shaw over to the sideline.
"All of a sudden I hear Coach Tuberville calling my first name," Shaw said. "It's never a good thing when they use your first name."
Tuberville laid into Shaw, complaining that it was his responsibility to protect Cox. Shaw attempted to explain that he was blowing the whistle but nobody could hear, and that Cox was barely touched on the play. At the time, Shaw and Tuberville were on the sidelines, near the pocket of 10,000-or-so Auburn fans who had made the trip to Baton Rouge.
"Tuberville said, 'Okay, all right,'" Shaw said of the Auburn coach's calm reaction to the official's explanation. "Then he gave me a little wink and started acting like he was chewing me out again; the Auburn fans went crazy."
Shaw, who works a job during the week as a sales center vice president for AT&T Business Systems in Birmingham, explained to the audience that an official is held accountable. He said there are four grades each official receives – two from the coaches ("obviously one of those grades is usually lower than the others," he joked), one from an unbiased observer and one from a conference official.
"I actually get five grades because if it's a game on TV my wife will give me a grade as well," Shaw said. "Hers is usually the toughest grade of all."

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