Is NFL Officiating Really That Bad?

donaghy betting scandal

There’s been a lot of harsh criticism this year in regards to the state of NFL officiating, and several questionable calls in last night’s Denver-New England showdown surely wont help matters.  I do admit that the refs could be better than what they’ve shown this year, but I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone is making it out to be, and it’s probably better if we all just start chilling out over this.  When you compare NFL officials to those of lesser criticized leagues, especially the NBA, they’re doing an outstanding job.

The definition of a legal catch has been a common point of contention this year, but I say its infinitely easier to define a catch in football than it is to define a foul in basketball.  You have controversial catch/no catch calls in maybe once every 2-3 NFL games.  You have controversial foul/no foul calls in maybe once ever 2-3 possessions in NBA games.  The same goes for pass interference.  Why does the NFL get so much criticism for plays that only happen sporadically while the NBA gets a free pass for the shady looking arbitrary calls they make every two minutes?

In the past five years or so, I can only think of one NFL playoff game (Dallas vs Detroit last year) where you can argue that the officials screwed a team over.  In the NBA playoffs, you can easily bitch up a good case for the refs screwing teams out of wins at least twice per series.  Shit, Tim Donaghy served jail time for straight up rigging NBA playoff games while David Stern remained (allegedly) oblivious…  Do you think that could ever fly in the NFL?

It’s not just the NBA that is inexplicably getting a free pass by the fans.  The MLB is notorious for having inconsistent strike zones.  Granted, calling balls and strikes is probably the hardest task of any official in sports, but it’s also difficult to let umpires off the hook when they make it impossible to strive for improvement.  Has this been affecting playoff games?  Oh yeah…  What on god’s green earth was this…

While I don’t think the state of affairs is nearly as bad in the NFL as the public makes it out to be, there are a couple of improvements that would make people a lot happier…

Increase transparency – the NFL is probably the most transparent of the four major sports leagues, but they would be better if they made their grading system and the scores for each of the crews available to the public.  If TV networks were able to overlay these scores and ranks whenever refs are making announcements, it would help fans pinpoint who the real problem officials are and hold them more accountable.  It would also help show that the officials are doing a better job than people realize…

Scale back to the original challenge system – Drew Magary noted in an excellent piece last week that the over-saturation of replay is having an adverse impact on the refs’ performances.  While I think it’d be retarded to abolish the challenge system entirely, it does need to be scaled back.  The challenge system was perfect when the NFL first instituted it…

  • Only two challenges per game
  • Winning both results in one additional bonus challenge
  • The booth initiates replay only inside the last two minutes

Let’s go back to that!  Sure, you’re not gonna correct all of the ticky-tack errors that we’re stopping the games down for today, but that shouldn’t matter.  If everyone thinks that one athlete is better than his opponent on a given play, we shouldn’t have wait up and confirm that it’s a 100% correct call.  If it’s a horrible missed call that legitimately compromises the integrity of the game, we’ll still be able to fix it!

Also, it added an element of strategy that was always interesting (wtf Schottenheimer??).

Make penalties challengeable – The NFL is hesitant to do this because of the subjective nature of these rules, and for a long time I’ve thought their reasoning was legit.  However, the NCAA has demonstrated over the past two years with their targeting reviews that it’s not too difficult to incorporate subjective calls into instant replay.  Given these calls’ high degree of impact on game results, it would be fair to allow coaches to challenge them.

Granted, we should only be seeing this if the challenge system is scaled back in the first place so only the egregious missed calls stop down the games.

Is NFL Officiating Really That Bad?

Oklahoma Pounds the Shit out of the Biggest Fraud in College Football

stoops gundy

Mike Stoops might be the laziest top tier coach in history, but his team was still good enough to beat the ever living shit Oklahoma State tonight.  It’s been clear for awhile that this year’s Big 12 is a garbage conference full of cartoon football, piss poor defenses, and whining media pundits.  Nobody embodied this profile more than Oklahoma State and they got their comeuppance today.

There were other fraud teams this year like Auburn and Utah, but they didn’t bitch and moan their way to top like OK State.  There was so much outcry about how long it was taking for them to make the top ten, and then when they did make it they complained that they were on the outside looking in to the playoff spots.  Well it turns out they sucked just like every other expert said they did.

They started the season with absolute cupcakes.  They eked out a lucky victory at Texas.  They eked out a lucky victory against the 4th string Kansas State quarterback.  They started playing a lot better around Halloween time, but a recent string of games against strong teams exposed them for the mediocre team they really are.

58-23 at home against your big brother rival.  Good god.  Have fun in the Alamo Bowl.

Oklahoma Pounds the Shit out of the Biggest Fraud in College Football

Notre Dame Goes Down and You Gotta Feel for Them

malik zaire injury

I know there’s a lot of hate for Notre Dame out in the sports world and I get that.  There are a lot of legit reasons for a lot of people to not like them.  But as a more or less neutral observer of college football (thanks Tulane!), I was a huge fan of Notre Dame this year.  I thought they were the best team, and still pretty much do.

They were fast as fuck.  They played smart and disciplined football.  Their offense had a great balance and always kept clicking no matter how many stars went down.  Their defense made more clutch 4th quarter stops than people realize, and it was so refreshing to see them make plays in an era where defense seems to be an afterthought.

People ripped on their schedule, but that was bullshit…

  • Six opponents have been ranked this year
  • Three opponents have been in the top 10
  • Four opponents will play in conference championship games next week

Even some of their unranked opponents, like Texas, Virginia, and Georgia Tech had higher expectations before the season.  I know you can look at the schedule after the fact and argue that it’s not as difficult as other CFP candidates, but you have to admit the number of high anxiety games they played were far more than any other team.  That should count for something.

Brian Kelly is the best coach in college football.  Notre Dame’s recruiting restrictions are stifling for most coaches, but he seems to stock South Bend with talent so easily.  His gameplan for this game was genius and the way he called that final drive was absolutely beautiful to watch.

I know you can’t actually turn down points, but if Kizer’s last touchdown was overturned and Notre Dame has first and goal at the one after the offsides call, they definitely would’ve had the game in the bag.  In Madden, you take the penalty instead of the touchdown, but you just can’t do that in real life.

If the Irish had made the playoffs, I would’ve bet the farm on them winning it all.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go their way this year and that kind of sucks.

Notre Dame Goes Down and You Gotta Feel for Them

TCU-Baylor Was a Great LSD Substitute

If you really wanted to trip last night but couldn’t find any LSD, TCU-Baylor would have been quite an adequate substitute.  I watched the game, and it put me into an absolute trance…  It was a Fort Worth thunderstorm like you hear about in a country song and it and totally turned both game plans upside down.

Look at all these fucking drops…

It was ridiculous.  Unfortunately for the Big 12, it was also not a good look for the conference.  Before the season, most experts predicted this to be a thrilling de facto championship game.  Instead, it was a low scoring struggle between two disappointing teams.

I understand that extreme weather can fuck up your game plan, but there is still no excuse for this poor of a game.  Both teams had the option to get balls swapped out for dry replacements every play, and both opted out of it in order to maintain a lightning fast tempo of repeatedly stalling for 3 and outs.  They also both called pass plays so many times despite a fucking downpour that made it way too difficult to throw and catch downfield.

It’s one thing to blame the downpour for dropped passes, but all of the fumbles we saw were ridiculous.  There were seven combined turnovers as a result of both teams’ fundamentals going completely out the window.  Things as simple as QB-RB handoffs became daunting tasks.  If the Big 12 is supposed to be a playoff conference, their teams need to handle the adversity of weather way better than this.

Still a fun game, though.  And I’m glad TCU won, because fuck Baylor.

Also, TCU cheerleaders win the award for best in the nation by powering through the storm and wearing short shorts while they did it…

TCU-Baylor Was a Great LSD Substitute

Packers Fans Think Brett Favre Cares About Them Because They Are Stupid

When the NFL first instituted the night game into their Thanksgiving slate, I thought it was a load of shit.  America had a routine, and it was perfect.  Feast during the Lions game and then gather around the TV for a prime time showcase of the Dallas Cowboys.  Even when Dallas would be having a bad season, it was a great way to let the country check in on the league’s flagship franchise and promulgate our status as America’s Team.

Unfortunately, the night game diminished a lot of the showcase effect of our matchup.  Some people even have their dinners during the Dallas game now, which is just a giant slap in the face of American tradition and seems flat out treasonous if you ask me.  In addition, the night games themselves been horrendous.  Until this year, the only entertainment we’ve gotten was being able to laugh hysterically at the butt fumble, and that was still a dumb blowout game.

Thursday’s game, however, was amazing.  Obviously, watching Cutty and my Tulane homeboy Matt Forte shred through the Packers D for a victory was pretty sick.  However, the best part of the night was the epic troll job Brett Favre pulled off at halftime…

Everybody and their mother was sitting in Lambeau trying not to explode inside their pants at the sight of Brett Favre.  I don’t get it.  They acted like he could actually give two fucks about any of them.  But he doesn’t.  He doesn’t give a shit about any of the Packers fans and for some reason they’re all oblivious to it.

For years after leaving Green Bay, Brett Favre never returned and never really cared to try and make it happen.  After his final retirement, a long standoff ensued where it seemed he was trying everything in his power to keep his distance from Wisconsin.  His final ultimatum was his refusal to attend a number retirement ceremony unless Bart Starr was also able to show up, and a lot of people believe he made that demand hoping Starr’s terminal illness would make the ceremony impossible.

Last summer, he finally returned to Green Bay to get inducted into the Packers hall of fame.  There were 67,000 fans in the crowd for an event that sold out in less than an hour.  All to honor a quarterback that was last seen in Green Bay playing for a division rival.  Kind of hard to respect fans that go from booing you louder than you’ve ever heard before to selling out a stadium in your honor despite showing zero contrition for abandoning them…

For the number retirement, Brett Favre showed up dressed to impress…

favre sweats.png

The number of times I saw him smile at any fans was exactly zero.  He had a look on his face like he clearly did not want to be there.  My favorite part of his speech was when he said this…

Hahahah.  That’s a backhanded compliment if I’ve ever heard one.  “My family here from the South is used to great weather, but I told them they would have sooooo much fun in the freezing rain up in Wisconsin!”

Why so many Packers fan continue to ride his knob, I have no idea.  I will admit, I’ve met a lot of chill, intelligent Packers fans that are good to have sports conversations with.  Unfortunately for the reputation of Packer nation, just about every single one of those fans reside outside of Wisconsin…

I used to live in Wisconsin for about three years.  Almost every Packer fan I met there thinks Mike McCarthy is great coach, Ted Thompson is a bad GM, and Aaron Rodgers is heterosexual.  Going to Lambeau is a creepy experience.  The crowd cheers like it’s some enormous pee wee football game.  They have bench seats, which is awful because a ton of the fans are morbidly obese.  It’s also cold and miserable.  You also see people like this…

packersowner

Good god.

I guess the point of this post is… Fuck the Packers

Packers Fans Think Brett Favre Cares About Them Because They Are Stupid

College Football Gambling Locks – Saturday Rivalry Week Edition

Indiana -7.5 at Purdue

Indiana barely loses to all the good teams and blows out the bad teams.  Purdue falls under the latter category and Indiana will smoke them.

USC -3 at #22 UCLA

This game could be really dope.  The winner not only gets bragging rights throughout Los Angeles, but they also get the opportunity to get their shit wrecked by Stanford again in the Pac-12 championship game.  There’s nothing wrong with that though; Stanford is really good.  I pick USC in this game because Helton has reenergized the Trojans run game and UCLA’s run defense blows.

Minnesota +2 at Wisconsin

I’ve been waiting forever to gamble on this game.  Unfortunately, Northwestern exposed the badgers one week too early and this line isn’t as juicy as I was expecting.  I’m still gonna lay the wood on Minnesota because they’re still underdogs and they’re still absolutely going to throttle Wisconsin.  Minnesota is up there with Indiana as a criminally underrated Big Ten squad while Wisconsin might be the most overrated team in the country.

#14 North Carolina (-190 ML) at NC State

The spread has moved from UNC -6 to -4 despite a lopsided 75% of spread bets on UNC, meaning the sharps are all over NC State in this game.  That scares me, but I still don’t see UNC losing this game.  Their QB Marquise Williams is outstanding and deserves to be a Heisman finalist.  Their defense under Gene Chizik has risen to a top flight level.  And overall, I think this team is a sneaky good bet to beat Clemson and win the ACC.  They should cover the spread, but the line movement indicators are worrisome so going with a tease or moneyline bet is a safer route.

#2 Alabama -15 at Auburn

I think Alabama is overrated, but Auburn is TERRIBLE this year.  Just god awful.  They are gonna get smoked by the Tide.

Temple -13 vs UConn

Upon sucks.  I know they beat Houston on their senior night last week, but that speaks more to why the American conference doesn’t deserve to be in the playoff discussion than it does to Conn’s ability as a football program.

LSU -6 vs Texas A&M

Everyone is all aboard the LSU fade train these days, but when they’re playing a team as soft as A&M, you’re stupid to go against the Tigers.  Les Miles goes out with a nice victory in his last game in Baton Rouge, then laughs all the way to the bank with his new $15M check.

#6 Notre Dame +3.5 at #9 Stanford

Notre Dame is going to win the National Championship.  They are the fastest team in the country and their defense is stacked with pro prospects and coached by a former NFL coach.  They’re really good.  The Prosise injury is concerning, but Kizer and Fuller are still at full strength and I expect the Irish to be just fine.

Arizona St at Cal over 68 points

Arizona State sucks at defense.  Cal sucks at defense.  Jared Goff is throwing around the pigskin at home.  There’s gonna be a lot of points.

College Football Gambling Locks – Saturday Rivalry Week Edition

College Football Gambling Locks – RIVALRY WEEK Edition

#24 Toledo -8 vs Western Michigan

With the exception of one slip-up against Northern Illinois, Toledo has been dominating the MAC this year.  All they need to do is win this morning to clinch a berth in the championship game where they will proceed to pound the shit out of Bowling Green for a second time this year.

Toledo’s biggest strength is their run game, with junior Kareem Hunt and sophomore Terry Swanson averaging over a combined 200 ypg.  Western Michigan’s biggest weakness is run defense, having been shredded for over 200 yards the last five games.  I think Toledo covers but I am more comfortable having them in a tease or on the -330 moneyline.

#15 Navy -2 at #21 Houston

Keenan Reynolds has firmly established himself as the best option QB since Eric Crouch while putting Navy on track for a New Year’s bowl game.  Navy’s only loss was at Notre Dame, and they kept that game close for awhile.  Every other game has been a victory by at least two scores, and they’ve had some good opponents like Memphis, USF, Tulsa, and ECU.

Houston is no slouch themselves.  They have a really good black dual threat QB in Greg Ward Jr.  But their resume consists of eking out (and arguably lucking out) victories against good teams while pounding some of the worst teams in the country like Tulane and UCF.

I already thought Navy was going to win this game, but once I heard that Roger Staubach is attending the game and giving speeches in the Navy locker room, this became a lock for me.

Pitt -7 vs The U

Another game that I’m not too comfortable laying a lot of points with, but I’m confident Pitt pulls through in a tease or moneyline bet.  They are one of the more underrated teams with their only losses coming against national championship contenders (Iowa, UNC, Notre Dame).  Miami’s been better since kicking Al Golden to the curb but they still don’t play very hard and I don’t see them going on the road this late in the season and giving much of an inspired performance.

Nebraska +3 vs #4 Iowa

Iowa is a fraud.  Their schedule has been easy as shit and many of their wins have been flat out depressing to watch.  Nebraska is an underrated squad, especially when QB Tommy Armstrong Jr is healthy.  I’m looking for the home underdog to get the outright upset here.

#20 Washington St +7.5 at Washington

I touched on this game earlier this week and it is sneakily one of the best matchups of the weekend.  The Cougars are getting a ton of points because Luke Falk is not expected to play, but as much as I love Falk, I still see Washington State winning this game without him.  Backup QB Peyton Bender was in a training camp battle with Falk that went down to the wire and he’s looked pretty good in relief.  I expect him to be an adequate replacement against a very young Washington team.

Mike Leach’s squad is good.  They were a last second field goal away from beating Stanford and they throttled Oregon on the road.  I expect them to easily cover and the +250 moneyline is good too.

San Jose St +7.5 vs Boise St

Have you seen Boise State play lately?  No?  Good for you, because they suck.  Their past two weeks have been horrific home losses to New Mexico and Air Force.  I don’t see how they’re laying over a touchdown to anybody on the road right now.

Arkansas -14 vs Mizzou

Missouri is the worst team in the SEC and Arkansas is one of the best.  They steamroll Mizzou just like every other team has this year.

Tulsa -7.5 at Tulane

Tulane alum here…  We fucking suck!  Our coach is about to get fired and our players might play harder for him tonight, but they’re still not good enough.

#19 TCU +2.5 vs #9 Baylor

TCU gets Trevone Boykin back and Baylor is down to their 3rd string qb.  The game is in Fort Worth and the weather is gonna suck, which favors TCU.  Take the points.

College Football Gambling Locks – RIVALRY WEEK Edition

Stars Teabag Sabres Twice, Buffalo Remains Our Bitch City

I’ve never been to Buffalo, and I don’t really care to change that.  Frigid weather and depression is not really my cup of tea.  However, as a Dallas native, I can’t be more thankful for its existence.

Its a rare occurrence that we actually play them in sports.  They’re too poor to have a baseball or basketball team, while the Bills and Sabres are in different conferences than the Cowboys and Stars.  When we do play them, though, we always beat them.

There were two Super Bowls in the 90s that were just your normal ho hum Dallas Cowboys ass kickings…

Those were awesome, but honestly kind of boring to talk about because we were so dominant that there’s nothing to really say except that we were the best team to ever play.

The 1999 Stanley Cup, on the other hand, was rife with controversy.  I have no idea why, though, because Brett Hull 1000% scored a legal goal…

At the time, I just assumed that Buffalo natives were so used to dejection that they wouldn’t have too many problems accepting the fact that they will never finish higher than 2nd place behind Dallas in any sport.  Instead, they fell under the delusion that they were capable of being winners for once, and ended up holding a rally to demand another game.

Sometimes I get frustrated when I hear them (still to this day) complain about this.  Not only was it a legal goal, but it was still highly unlikely for them to be able to score again in Game 6, and it was even more unlikely that the Sabres would’ve been able to travel down to Dallas for Game 7 and actually pull off another win.  It’s annoying to think that they can’t just accept the fact that Hasek didn’t have enough left in the tank to stop the greatest American sniper in history (prior to Chris Kyle).

But then I remember that my city has sunlight, my brain has serotonin, and my sports memories have legit rings to kiss…  Let the bums up north try to whine and moan their way to a level of catharsis that will keep them off of suicide watch.  I can just relax and enjoy the genuine happiness that my hometown brings to me.

 

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any championship matchups between Dallas and Buffalo since then, but there still has been some interesting regular season games.  We typically murder the Bills every four years, but in 2007 there was a Monday Night Football game that was actually close…

But no cigar for Buffalo.

 

Last week, the 1st place Dallas Stars went to Buffalo, and Lindy Ruff, the Sabres coach in 1999, was ironically on the bench for the good side this time.  Once again, the game ended with the refs making the correct decisions

And for good measure, we beat them again 3-0 on Saturday.

Lol.  Suck it Buffalo.

Stars Teabag Sabres Twice, Buffalo Remains Our Bitch City

Maybe Luke Falk Should Take a Break (Or Not)

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the Pac-12 this year (can’t say I blame you), Washington State QB Luke Falk is the absolute fucking truth.  Mike Leach has a knack for cranking up stats with the air raid offense, but this kid is looking like a legit Heisman contender and pro prospect…

-4,266 passing yards, 1st in the country

-36 touchdowns (on 8 interceptions), 3rd in the country

-418 completions (1st), 7.2 YPA, 148.8 rating

He’s fucking awesome.  And he’s not like any of the other pretty boy west coast quarterbacks we’re used to seeing roll through the Pac-12.  He’s a legit gladiator.

That being said, Falk took another bad fall against Colorado on Saturday and now it’s looking like his brain is getting dangerously rattled…

His head hit the ground with a lot of force, but to warrant a straight board to cart him off the field is concerning to say the least.  Fortunately, Colorado sucks and the Cougars were fine without him.  Falk’s performance at UCLA was awesome to watch, and it was refreshing to see such a vintage level of courage from a quarterback these days, but now he should take a long rest for his brain to get settled back into place.

Or should he?

Next up on the docket is a mega showdown in Seattle against Washington for the Apple Cup.  Most people assume this game is irrelevant, but this is quietly turning into marquee rivalry.

2015+Apple+Cup+Gear

We’ve touched on Washington coach Chris Peterson before, and it will take a lot for me to waver on him.  He is one of the best in the country, as in a legit top 5 guy.  His run at Boise State was incredible, and his impact is greater exemplified when you look at the Broncos slide this year (two home losses to New Mexico and Air Force in the last two weeks, woof).  Now he’s in Seattle with a lot more resources and talent to pull from and he’s got this program on a definite up and up status.

While Chris Peterson is elite, Mike Leach will forever be a legend.  He had Texas Tech of all programs only one win in Norman away from a national championship, and seemingly overnight he’s taken Washington State from a doormat to a rising Pac-12 power.  What makes him cool as shit is that not only did he revolutionize the sport with his new school air raid tactics, he still maintains an old school mentality in terms of his player discipline and expectations for toughness.

Some people say that he’s reckless, but his job is to win football games, especially big rivalry games, and that is why Falk needs to play.  Let’s be real here…  CTE and all these suicidal former pros are scary to hear about, but most of them are linebackers and linemen that are repeatedly colliding their heads into players on almost every single snap.  Quarterbacks don’t have quite that level of danger.  Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Phil Simms….  All of them have played through concussions and they seem fine lapping it up on your TV screen.

Falk is gonna play, he’s gonna dominate, and he’s gonna be fun as shit to witness.

 

PS – FSU needs a quarterback next year and Falk would be perfect for them.  I bet Jimbo Fisher wants a do over on revoking his scholarship

Maybe Luke Falk Should Take a Break (Or Not)

4 more hours til I’m loaded as fuck

The Cowboys laying only 1 point to the Dolphins today is a fucking joke. Anybody who thinks Miami has a chance is delusional.

Dallas has gone down to the wire in every single game its played except the Pats game, and they’ve been doing it with dog shit quarterback play.  Brandon Weeden was a 3 and out machine and Matt Cassel was a pick six specialist.  Tony Romo is the cure all and savior to America’s Team and we are absolutely running the table to make the playoffs.

Dallas -1: LOCK OF THE CENTURY!!

4 more hours til I’m loaded as fuck