it is an awful mistake that is functionally not correctable, but in my opinion ( I did ref long ago to get through grad school and make money undergrad) it was not proprerly enforced. When the whistle blew, it should then be Auburn’s ball where it was and not where the ball was spiked. May not be much, but 5 yards further back and maybe the FG drifts wide anyway.
If there is an inadvertent whistle while the ball is loose following a fumble by A1 beyond the neutral zone, the ball is awarded to the fumbling team at the spot where the ball was when the whistle blew with no choice of replaying the down.
The number of officiating mistakes cannot be reconciled, apologized or explained away. However, what is the purpose of Charlotte replay if they cannot get it right for the on field miscreants?
Not an official, nor have I officiated, but I’m watching College Football Final. They actually spoke to a NCAA rules expert (not the two NFL guys that were on ESPN, but an actual college official). He said that the officials try to give the QB the benefit of the doubt with the spike (hence it being ruled intentional grounding). BUT, he also said it was backwards, was a fumble and a “CLEAR” Arkansas recovery. I want to see if the SEC will admit it screwed up.