Blaming the referees for the outcome of the game is never something fans should do. I hate when I do it myself.
Well, maybe not that much.
But to say that referees do not impact games would be like saying what I eat does not impact my weight. The two will forever be attached at the hip.
While throwing referees under the bus should never be the sole complaint for a loss or situation, their impact can be felt on any given snap and should be included in the overall understanding of a game’s final score line.
Look at this past season’s College Football Playoffs.
Refereeing decisions caused drastic swings in both the second semifinal (Ohio State vs. Clemson) and the final (Clemson vs. LSU).
In the first instance, the referees made two crucial decisions that swung the game, and arguably the momentum, from Ohio State’s favor to Clemson’s.
The first impact decision came with the Buckeyes up 16-0 and completely suffocating a stacked Clemson squad. A targeting call was called and confirmed on junior Shaun Wade when he rammed into Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence leading to his ejection.
The second, was a supposed strip by the Buckeyes leading to a touchdown to take a lead 22-21 late in the third quarter, which was overturned.
Both led to a vocal outcry by Ohio State faithful.
Yet to completely blame the referees for that loss, if an Ohio State fan, should be muted to an extent. Yes, both arguably changed momentum, but to not highlight numerous red zone field goals, two dropped touchdown passes, and a game-ending interception one cannot put all the fault on those in stripes.
Targeting reared its ugly head in the playoff final, this time going against Clemson. Ah, karma.
While still competitive a game, Clemson’s star linebacker James Skalski was ejected for targeting. While not the singular turning point of that game, it was a three-point contest and opened the game up for LSU and its lethal offensive attack led by Joe Burrow.
While targeting needs to be reanalyzed within the NCAA offices, the referees called these three plays pretty consistently when looking at the overall body of work. Fans of Clemson and Ohio State can plead but time will allow for them to sit back and analyze what other impact moments occurred before completely ripping and blaming referees.