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Refereeing in Virginia Tech-Clemson Game Necessitates Inquiry

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach David Shaw of the Standford Cardinal argues with a referee during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jordan CalfeeCorrespondent IIIDecember 4, 2016

As a rabid fan, in the immediate aftermath of the highly controversial third quarter of the Virginia Tech Hokies game against the Clemson Tigers today, I was overcome with the feeling that the referees were blatantly cheating the visiting team.

Now, looking back with a cooler head (and some understanding of just how hard an official's job is), three of the four questionable calls which happened in quick succession are explainable. The lack of pass interference calls given to the Hokies first when Marcus Davis's arms were raked before the ball got there on a third-and-long and later when DeAndre Hopkins appeared to push off against Kyle Fuller on a 37-yard touchdown were both bang-bang plays. And some could even argue that the play blown dead when Logan Thomas was still standing upright and about to complete a big pass on third down seemed like an ok decision by the referee in real time (especially when we consider the importance of player safety in today's football world).

But the call that is completely inexplicable (and requires some sort of investigation and explanation) is the replay official's upholding of the ruling on the field that Sammy Watkins was down before he fumbled.

I don't know about most football fans, but I have to imagine they share my complete lack of tolerance for mistakes in the replay booth. There is just never any excuse for it, if you have the time and technology that replay officials have at their disposal.

There is no question about this call when you see it from the back angle. Plain and simple. It was so clear that former Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller felt the need to tweet about it. Thus, there are only two possibilities here: either the replay official saw this shot and chose to ignore it (which I obviously do not believe happened since he is purportedly a professional and has some integrity), or he did not see this angle.

Since the second possibility is the only logical one, we must ask ourselves why the replay officials who control these calls aren't getting as good of views of these replays as every single person watching on television. It seems crazy, but this replay official would have made the correct call if only he had gotten up from his seat and walked into the ESPN booth next to him.

Despite what people like Heather Dinich may say about calls like these not affecting the outcome, any coach or player will tell you momentum matters in football. A lot. Instead of Virginia Tech having the ball at midfield down just 7, Clemson got the ball there with a first down and used that momentum to take it in for a score. This was a huge mistake, and one that cannot just be written off.

Bad calls are going to happen on the field. But they cannot happen in the replay booth. And after today's blown call and last year's Sugar Bowl, I'm sure I speak for all Virginia Tech fans when I say we have had enough of inept replay officials.

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