Are College Football Refs Actively Screwing Over Your Favorite Team? According To This, That Might Be The Case

by 11 months ago
Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports


Every college football fan has been there at some point. Sitting on the couch, drinking, stewing over an excruciating loss. Blaming the refs for blown calls instead of blaming the team for doing more to win the game.

If you’re a Michigan Man then this sounds all too real because this almost certainly describes your life last Saturday. As an FSU alumnus and diehard fan of the Florida State Seminoles I’ve most certainly blamed some losses on the refs over the years. It happened most recently after the garbage ass refs fucked over the ‘Noles and cost them the game against Clemson, a game officiating so bad Head Coach Jimbo Fisher called them out and later got fined $20,000 by the ACC….But are these gripes towards the shitty NCAA refs legit? The short answer is ‘probably’.

Bryan Gruley over at Bloomberg put together a VERY DAMMING analysis of college football referees repeatedly fucking over a handful of teams, and letting others slide. I highly suggest reading his article in full (link above), but here are some excerpts that will help you understand just how crooked these refs might be:

Do officials paid by the top NCAA conferences slant their calls—even if only unconsciously—to help their employers’ top teams? New research suggests the answer is yes.
Unlike in NCAA basketball, which draws referees from pools overseen by groups of conferences, most football referees are hired, trained, rewarded, and disciplined by individual conferences. That means officials are entrusted with making decisions that could hurt their employers—as with the call in the Clemson-FSU game. Clemson was the ACC team with the better shot at making the College Football Playoff and the financial bonanza it dangles.
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”

Not buying it? Well, there’s evidence to back this up:

Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”



Playoff contenders lacking the flagship label—such as Wisconsin this year—often draw more subjective penalties than flagship teams, like Michigan, that also happen to generate healthy revenue.

Which are these so-called ‘protected flagship’ teams benefitting from the discretion of NCAA referees? They’re the exact teams you’d expect to see named:


It’s important to differentiate between ‘protected flagship’ and ‘flagship’ because you’ll notice that it’s only the teams in the center circle who are getting hooked up by the refs, not the teams (my Seminoles included) on the left and right of the Venn diagram.

What’s scary about the findings on Bloomberg is how much of an impact these disproportionate calls from the refs might have on the College Football Playoff. To read about the implications, and how the CFP Committee is actually handling this data themselves, you’ll have to CLICK HERE to head on over to Bloomberg.


TAGSbad callsCollege FootballFootballNCAArefs

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