Super-Not-OT: Officiating Question

Submitted by Sleepy on January 10th, 2018 at 8:41 AM

Last night's officiating debacle got me thinking--when was the last time UM benefited from some less than 50/50 officiating in football or basketball?  And when the only example I could come up with was the 2000 fooball game against Illinois, it got me thinking, again.  Either...

A)  UM has spent the past two decades getting jobbed by officials in two sports.


B)  When UM has a game poorly officiated in their favor, my lying-ass brain doesn't recognize it as poorly officiated, but rather as fairly officiated.

The answer's gotta be B, right?


Arb lover

January 10th, 2018 at 8:42 PM ^

That's not much of a benefit though, since the score or outcome wouldn't have changed and because he was out they can always throw the ref bad call card. 

However to really answer this question you probably need to do two steps. 1) ask some OSU/PSU/MSU fans to answer that, and then 2) verify it by going through the replay. 


January 10th, 2018 at 8:45 AM ^

it's B, confirmation bias.

off the top of my head I can't think of any BIG calls at the end of the game, but we have gotten plenty of questionable calls DURING games.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:36 AM ^

At the time of the game I remember thinking that it was a catch and that VT got screwed but I just rewatched it and it definitely wouldn't be a catch in todays game. Catching rules seemed to make a drastic change between 2006-2011.

Does anyone else remember "football move"? As in, if the receiver made a "football move" before dropping the ball then it's considered a fumble.

814 East U

January 10th, 2018 at 8:58 AM ^

Almost every sporting event is poorly officiated. Holding has been virtually removed from college football. The charge in college basketball is the biggest joke in sports. This past weekend had major NFL officiating errors. The game between NO and Carolina needed to be stopped by the alternate official because a 10 second runoff was not properly applied (from a bad call nonetheless).

I don't expect perfect officiating whatsoever, but the national championship showed that officials in the biggest games miss very easy calls that affect games. Bama fale start (not called) leads to the wrong call (UGA offsides) on that punt block. Then, an Alabama player shoves the head of the UGA QB right in front of an official after a tackle and there is no call. 

Some calls are very difficult to make. Some calls are easy. Officials too often miss the easy ones. I only hope that one day officials are made full-time employees, make a very good salary but are held accountable (graded) on their performances so the really bad ones are "weeded out".


January 10th, 2018 at 9:10 AM ^

of the issue with this is that the officials did not get the call "wrong" last night (the out of bounce call, that is).  By the letter, they review that play in the last two minutes.  That is what they are supposed to do.  Additionally, the ball was probably off of Matthews, de novo.  There is the error though.  Through the widespread use of replay, the call on the floor no longer gets any benefit of the doubt.  It is supposed to.  If it takes the officials a full five minutes, real time, to make the reversal than the play should not be reversed.  The ball last night was not so clearly off of anybody that it warranted reversal (or even serious consideration).  Replay is supposed to correct obvious errors, not create non-existent controversies.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:14 AM ^

well said. agreed completely about fixing obvious miscalls. when they spend several minutes parsing out TWO FRAMES of video, and trying to extrapolate....just give the live call.

My frustration around refs is more with replays than anything. I feel we get moved on replays more than most, and it's frustrating when replays are supposed to correct things.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:22 AM ^

when replay was being considered for football to begin with (before real expansion to football and basketball), I never understood the "no-replay camp."  I did not understand the slippery slope argument that they advanced.  I understand it now.  I wish replay was eliminated completely, though I know there is no way to unring that bell.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:39 AM ^

My experience with replay has been that it's more non-sensical than live calls. Which is the total opposite of what any sane person would expect to be true. I wouldn't care so much about some of the longer reviews if they weren't so obviously a sham to make whatever call the officials want.


January 10th, 2018 at 3:01 PM ^

the mistake you are making is assuming the officials are actually really good and are just making mistakes.

The reality is that they aren't very good to begin with.  When you give people that aren't very good instant replay to work with, well, they still aren't very good. 

There are people that are really good at discerning what happened on an instant replay.  in general, the officials that blew the call on the floor don't tend to be those people.   Of course, neither do the people that the Big Ten have stuffed into the football replay booth over the years either. 

IMO the best way to do it is to have a centralized team of experts who consistently apply video replay rules across every game.  But even that isn't perfect.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:40 AM ^

...has always been "poorly" officiated. It's a bunch of humans, many of them working part-time, trying to make instantaneous decisions on complicated rules based on things that they are seeing for only a split second. The only thing that has changed is that as spectactors we now have access to dozens of high def cameras allowing us to second guess every decision. Go back and watch the Wazzu/Michigan Rose Bowl broadcast and delight in how happily ignorant we all were. 

For me, I don't really mind. I don't really see a persistant bias against Michigan, and don't care to have a sport that I watch only for my own enjoyment suffer whatever science is required for it to be ruled by perfect objectivity.


January 10th, 2018 at 10:34 AM ^

for fans to put the pressure on. There is so much emphasis on tech and precision in sports yet officiating is still woefully bad; I think paying officials well and establishing real standards is just a fairly serious cost and amount of work to put in that has been avoided. And--have said it before--mgoblog could help by just having a regular RefWatch column that evaluated reffing fairly rigorously, helped establish the parameters. 


January 10th, 2018 at 11:01 AM ^

So...there is a problem with making refs full-time employees.

Let's say you are a very good but very young football official--maybe just out of college.  You get yourself a job (let's say you are a high school teacher) and you officiate high school football games on Friday nights & Saturdays.

Let's also say that you are very good at both of your jobs--dedicated, hard-working, you "go the extra mile" and you impress your supervisors at both jobs.  You soon get promoted to assistant principal, and you soon get promoted to Division II college football--working High School games on Friday and GLIAC games on Saturday.

And you're 35 years old, making $80K (according to the internet) as an assistant principal and $15K (educated guess) as a Division II & high school referee.

And now the Big Ten calls you up, says they have been watching you officiate, and they want to offer you a job.  Here's the catch--you have to quit your job as a high school assistant principal because they are going to a full-time officiating staff.

Here's the question:  how much do they have to offer you to get you to quit your job (with a pension and opportunity to advance to even better positions) in exchange for what is essentially a dead-end position with less job security?  $150K?  More?  Less?

Multiply by a 60-person conference officiating staff.  Also, explain to me how that will make officiating better.


January 10th, 2018 at 11:33 AM ^

I'm not sure he's the CEO--I know he is the co-owner, along with his officiating brothers, of that company. 

Steratore is doing the New Orleans at Minnesota NFL game on Sunday, and hopefully he manages to get that right, at least.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:13 AM ^

happens all the time.  You just don't notice it because you discard it as a meaningful contributing factor when we win.  Seriously, look at any thread on another team's blog after we beat them in a close game and you will see the same gripes.

The call last night should not have been reversed, but frankly, Beilein has to be better in last possession kind of deals, both offensively and defensively.  I knew that doom was imminent the second that Matthews started clearing out the left side of the floor at the beginning of that possession.  Not because he isn't an effective player, but nothing like that final possession had taken shape all half. If that play was going to shape up that way, Simpson or MAAR needed to have the rock.  Last year we had Irvin jacking from 25 against NW with 7 seconds left, and a botched possession to put the game away against Oregon.  The list can and does go on.

I hate to compare unfavorably to another coach, particularly a jerk-face one, but if that was MSU, Izzo would have taken the clock down to the 8 or 9 and taken a timeout.  I don't know if whatever shot he drew up would have gone in, but I do know they would have gotten a good look and that there would have been no chance in hell that Purdue would have won the game in regulation.  

Tie game with the ball and essentially even shot and clock and game clock?  That cannot be a loss in regulation, officiating be damned.  We always start our attack a good 4 seconds too early in that situation, and I do mean always.  I am not doing a side by side of Izzo and Beilein across the Board, and I think Beilein is a very good coach.  I am just saying that I see other coaches handle final offensive and defensive possessions a lot better all the time.  Needed a timeout there and a failsafe possession to get a shot with only negligible time remaining.

Either way, we are beating that team at Mackey.  Every one of their players shot like Larry Bird in a three-point contest last night.  I think we are going to take it back from them in the rematch.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:24 AM ^

Was down in NC at my former brother-in-law's who went to PSU and a bunch of his college buddies were there too.  Late at night they got into it with me about how UM gets all the calls and PSU gets screwed all the time (this was 2001/2002).  I shot back with a litany of calls that UM was on the short end of going back to 1990.  They eventually backed off.


January 10th, 2018 at 8:52 AM ^

I tend to fall into your camp on this one and feel that Michigan is not getting 50/50 calls close to the rate you'd expect to even out over the course of the season.  But it is a difficult thing to track and your emotion and bias cloud the ability to judge it correctly.

In football I think Brian and Ace have talked about how Michigan hasn't gotten a single 50/50 call against Ohio State or even Michigan State in years.  But we've benefitted multiple times from marginal calls against Indiana and Northwestern.  What I worry about is that refs have a tendency to favor the better team slightly and we haven't been that team in a while.  You could argue that a couple of calls against OSU or MSU the past three years flip multiple games.

Basketball is more complicated because it is harder to referee, there are so many more calls, and the refs tend to be bad at their jobs.  I know we've gotten a few calls over the course of games or seasons.  The issue I see with basketball is that Beilein's teams don't foul and often don't play physical.....yet somehow we're not getting calls that reflect that.  Wagner is getting a foul called on him before the play even starts (every time last night) whether he touches the guy or not.  Walton and Burke used to drive to the hoop, end up on the ground, and never get a call.  

I've actually suggested to Brian before that he keep a stat during UFRs regarding 50/50 calls to track our "luck" over the course of a season.  


January 10th, 2018 at 8:53 AM ^

last second field goal I think of NW in the hoke years, the holder (dilio I think) slide into position to take the snap; he was 100% still moving and not set when the ball was snap


January 10th, 2018 at 9:06 AM ^

The last football game that I can recall where we won specifically because of a bad call was against Purdue (in 2006 I think), where we got (or kept) a fumble very late in the game that looked to be clearly out of bounds.

As far as a big game . . . OSU or ND or MSU when good or a New Years bowl game, I can't recall a single time we won a game because of a legit bad call.  PSU will argue a couple of calls - 2002, 2005 - but I'm not sure how legit those were.  In UTL I against ND, there was a block in the back that could have been called that would have negated Gallon's cloaking device catch with 20 seconds left.

On the other hand, I can think of many times we lost a big game over a bad call . . . Charles White's goal line fumble in the Rose Bowl, Bo's successful fake punt called back in his last game in the Rose Bowl, OSU/JT Barrett's short 4th down, etc. come to mind.  

In basketball, as far as calls that went in our favor, it has to be the Syarcuse charge in the 2013 Final Four.  It was not a bad call per se, it could have been called either way, but that is not a call you typically make at that juncture late in a Final Four game.  You just swallow the whistle and call nothing.

In the Final, of course, we had the Burke clean block go against us.

In the 1989 Final game, the foul called in Rumeal's favor was pretty phantom.  But he was a poor free throw shooter and I remember thinking at the time that this was not a call that was in our favor.  Until he made them both.


Rufus X

January 10th, 2018 at 10:05 AM ^

I am not a grammar nazi, but twice in this very thread you have used the word "bounce".  You do realize the correct term is "out of bounds" or "in bounds", I presume?

J.W. Wells Co.

January 10th, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

In 2003 in the opener against Washington Braylon Edwards pretty clearly dropped a 4th-and-2 pass at midfield with 26 seconds left (and it was abundantly clear from his own body language that even he thought he dropped it as the defender hit him).  But Michigan pounced on the ball, the refs ruled it a fumble and first down before Washington went on to get flagged 15 yards for too many men on the defense, and Phil Brabbs became a hero as time expired.  It was a bad call then, and never would've withstood replay today.

J.W. Wells Co.

January 10th, 2018 at 12:32 PM ^

In 2011, with Northwestern at the Michigan 37 with 7:00 left and driving for the tying touchdown, Jordan Kovacs ripped off Dan Persa's helmet without tackling him on fourth down.  The officials blew the play dead because the ball carrier's helmet came off.  First down going the other way, and Michigan salted it away.  Seemed to me pretty fishy that a defender can make the play dead by ripping off a helmet without getting flagged for a blow to the head or facemasking.

BTB grad

January 10th, 2018 at 9:06 AM ^

They need to make college referees full-time. The Power 5 confereces have more than enough money and it's too important not to.

NFL and NBA referees don't make nearly the same number of costly mistakes at the end of games. At least from what I've seen, the NFL officiates holding and pass interference infinitely better. Yes, there's the confusing NFL catch rule, but that's more on the league for how the rule is written than the refs trying to decipher it.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:19 AM ^

You can easily find uneven officiating in Michigans history. There isn't a balance even close to Desmond getting tripped in the end zone losing a #1 ranking or the 2016 OSU game which was the closest thing to conspiracy that you'll find. Even the Nebraska "share" of the title was on a blown call. It happens and it happens more to us.

Before this year Moe Wagner was the most targeted by officials good player I've seen in a very long time.

I question though why is this coming up now? The moving screens were weak and I thought there were some walks missed earlier in the game... that said the ball went out on Mathews and Moe blatantly hooked the guy who had been abusing him all game. I'm all for whining about refs but for those last two minutes there is no merit. Complaints about the delay etc, fine but they got the calls right.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:28 AM ^

is right.  Unless Wagner is back into full Nowitzki mode like he can be sometimes, I think that Teske should play the majority of the minutes in the return date.  I like Wagner and I think he will be a very good stretch big at the next level, but he can't guard a player like Hass.  He does not have the strength or the footwork.  At least Teske is simply huge and can be huge.  The Hass-Wagner matchup is a mismatch the very existence of which allows Purdue too many options on offense, and Mo is not currently doing enough on offense to off-set it.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:21 AM ^

I don't remember who we played December 2nd but I wrote to my boys so this is what it feels like to get calls. A regular season conference game in December. That's the bone we get.


January 10th, 2018 at 9:25 AM ^

It's B because of confirmation bias, in my own opinion, but I think all of us could sit down and eventually come up with a generous list of games in the last 10-15 years or so alone where Michigan was the beneficiary of some bad calls in both football and basketball. Actually, that would be an interesting exercise in recall and countering confirmation bias.