Welcome once again to the Irreverent Church of the Gridiron.
Whether you are a Missouri fan looking for solace and answers, or an Alabama fan giving thanks for the Blessings of Saban, all are welcome here at our little church in cyberspace.
Our bible study for this week includes these verses:
Miami 24:21 – And a hurricane shall blow through the Forest, leaving behind a Wake.
Duke 13:10 – And lo, the Hokie falls before the Blue Devils. If there be a more overrated team in the land, only the Lord knows it.
Minnesota 34:23 – Make ye an ark of Gopher Wood. Beat the husker of corn with gopher wood. Gopher wood is good.
But today’s sermon will focus on the age old sin of temptation.
Let’s be honest. We are all dogs humans. We are all sinners. So it be with the referee. Anyone who thinks there is a totally unbiased referee out there probably also believes in fair trials, honest politicians and tooth fairies.
I am not suggesting that there is some heinous conspiracy here. I’m not suggesting that O$U actually pays referees to “throw” games or flags. I’m not even suggesting that the Big Ten does that either.
But if you don’t think that each referee knows where his paycheck is coming, and that said employer benefits from a team like O$U winning each week, then I suggest you put your tooth under the pillow tonight and expect to pay your rent tomorrow with the results.
It’s simple mathematics and money. If O$U wins out, there is a chance they could be in the title game, which opens a spot in the BCS money pot for a SECOND conference team to get a SECOND payout. If O$U goes down, so does the chance of TWO teams cashing out big paychecks in the BCS payday. Again, if you don’t think the referees “know this” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), then you are either still in diapers or have been living under a rock. By the way, you could save 15% on car insurance by switching to Geico.
Why are the referees employed by the conference they are policing? Isn’t there a conflict of interest there?
If the NCAA survives into the future as a viable organization, and that truth is open to a lot of debate, then it should take charge and eliminate, as much as possible given that we are dealing with humans, the temptation to throw a flag or not throw a flag. After all, some of God’s greatest gifts are unthrown flags.
The NCAA should “charge” member institutions for providing referees. This charge would be approximately equivalent to what conferences as a whole are now paying, distributing across their membership.
From this pool, the NCAA will provide referees to games.
If a referee is an alum of a given school, they should be excluded from games that involve that school, or games whose outcomes could impact that schools ranking. Geographic considerations would be important. A ref living in State College should never be calling games involving Big Ten teams. It’s that simple.
Moreover, a system of checks and balances should be implemented. After each game, each coach gets a chance to rate each refs performance. This rating will actually impact the refs paycheck–bad ratings earn less money than good ratings. Refs can challenge a bad rating by a coach which could be reviewed by an independent board of former coaches and referees. That way, there would be actual consequences for bad calls, encouraging refs to not only be impartial, but also to strive harder to actually be correct. Coaches could also base their ratings on flags not thrown–ie complaining about holds that were not called, and these could be reviewed later for confirmation or not. Referees who continually get low ratings would be replaced. And to be fair, if a ref challenges a low rating and is exonerated by a review board, the coach/school that gave the low rating could be penalized, so as to prevent coaches from arbitrarily giving bad ratings to refs they “may not like,” or as a knee jerk reflex to a bad loss.
Again, no system would be perfect. Mistakes are made that have nothing to do with bias. The ref has two eyes and can’t see everything. But the impact this has on the outcomes of important games, and the amounts of money riding on those games, begs for a better, more impartial system.
That’s our view from the pulpit.
Go Forth and Spread the Word. If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!