At Least the Refs Aren’t to Blame for Hogs’ Season
Monday I finished all of my work early, brought ingredients to make dinner over to my friends’ apartment and settled in for an evening of friends and football.
The Green Bay Packers, the team that drafted former Razorback tight end DJ Williams, were set to take on the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
The Packers have a struggling offensive line this season and the Seahawks play sticky defense, so many presumed it would be a close and lively game.
But it became evident as the game progressed that this game was not about Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the most efficient passer in the league, proving his worth against Seattle’s fourth-ranked defense. This game was about the ineffective replacement officials.
You see, the NFL locked out with the regular referees in June. The lockout has lasted into the season and replacement referees have been filling in until an agreement can be reached.
But then Monday happened. The replacements were calling the game very tight with a penalty called on every drive. As a viewer, it almost seemed as if a penalty was called on every down.
The bad calls went both ways, but they culminated on the final play of the game. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary to wide receiver Golden Tate that was caught and controlled by Green Bay cornerback M.D. Jennings.
That play should have resulted in an interception, but it was ruled a touchdown on the field, and after review, that call stood.
The NFL released a statement saying that Tate should have been penalized for offensive pass interference, but that the Seahawks would keep the win on their record.
There are a few important things to note about the blown call. First, Green Bay shouldn’t expect to win in the NFL with only scoring 12 points. Second, the NFL referee lockout needs to end. Third, Razorback fans should be happy that they can at least trust the officiating in the Southeastern Conference.
Reports surfaced after Monday that the side judge who’d made the final call had never coached above the Division III college level. It’s unreasonable to expect that an official without adequate experience can make the right call in a high pressure situation.
On the other hand, it’s also unreasonable to expect that a team can win when the offensive line allows the quarterback to be sacked eight times in a game – nine times if you count the sack for no yards that the officials called. That’s right. Rodgers, who led the Packers to a 15-1 regular season record in 2011, was sacked eight times.
But there is good news – or bad news, depending on how you look at it – for Razorback fans. The officials are not interfering with the Hogs’ ability to win.
For the most part, officiating is good in SEC football. Some games come to mind, like the 2009 match against the Gators in Gainesville, Fla. But those wrongdoings are few and far between.
There’s another side to that coin. Though the SEC referees haven’t costs the Razorbacks a win, they haven’t helped the Razorbacks avoid a loss, either.
Each of the three losses fall solely on the Razorbacks. They can’t blame officiating like the Packers. They can only blame themselves.
This should be viewed as liberating, because the Razorbacks have the ability to win in their hands. They just have to execute. There are no untrained officials who will rip the Razorbacks of a win. They just have to do it themselves.
Kristen Coppola is the sports editor for The Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Thursday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.