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Satire: Big 12 Refs Actually Pretty Pleased With Season So Far



Officiating college football is a difficult job, and a nearly impossible one to perform perfectly. Officials may occasionally throw a flag for questionable penalties or let some obvious offenses go, but with replay officials checking on-the-field rulings and coaches challenges, human error is generally kept to a minimum.

However this year in the Big 12, human error has risen to new heights.

In addition to consistent and baffling gaffes during games, Big 12 refs have regularly muddled crucial calls late in games, some of which have had a significant impact on the final result.

The most glaring and nationally infamous error thus far this season occurred after the end of Oklahoma State’s contest against Central Michigan. Officials, including two Big 12 replay officials, awarded CMU an untimed down after time had expired and CMU won off a hail mary on the awarded down. According to the rules, this down should never have happened and OSU should have won the game.

Despite this and other horrible errors throughout the first third of the season, Big 12 officials think things are actually going pretty well.

“I mean, yeah, we could have probably handled a few things better this year,” said referee Tim Craig, sporting a Central Michigan hoodie, “but who couldn’t say that? Even brain surgeons are allowed to make mistakes sometimes, so I think everyone needs to chill out a little.”

Line judge Kendrick Harriford agreed.

“I get why people are upset,” said Harriford, trying to push open a door with “Pull” marked on it, “but they need to remember that we are out there on the field to help the game run smoother. That’s why when (Texas coach) Charlie Strong declined a penalty against Oklahoma State, I rushed right over and told him not to decline the penalty and it kept OSU from getting a first down on that play. He needed some help coaching, and I was right in position to provide. Simple as that.”

Even with this helpful approach, Harriford said he and the rest of his crew still regularly get threats from fans.

“You got to just let it roll off your back, you know,” said Harriford, finally through the door but now trying to unscrew the lid on a jar of peanuts the wrong way. “People are always going to talk, and even if their talk is backed up by video evidence, extensive documentation, and records of suspicious looking bank deposits, it don’t mean nothing.”

Craig said that even though he and the rest of the Big 12 officials try to have a thick skin, they are open to constructive criticism.

“Just the other day, we made a call in the OU-TCU game,” said Craig, drinking from a #Soonernation mug, “and we conferred, discussed the evidence, and determined that there was no foul for intentional grounding. Coach Bob Stoops immediately tells us we’re wrong, and I looked at the crew and said, ‘Well, you heard the man,’ and threw a flag. He’s the coach, after all. You can’t argue with the coach.”

Harriford also said he tries to be receptive to criticism.

“You know maybe they’re right, maybe I’ve got a lot to learn about the rules on what constitutes a catch or defensive holding,” said Harriford, sitting on the floor eating beans from a can. “Maybe I don’t know what ‘targeting’ actually is? Is it a penalty? Is it a department store? Who knows! I can’t be expected to have all the answers, so when in doubt, I ask my crew and usually we can figure it out, but sometimes we can’t. Life is like that, sometimes, you know?”

Craig said that even if they have difficulty tracking down the exact wording of a rule, he and the rest of the Big 12 officials take getting the call correct very seriously.

“I tell everyone that the only way to really ensure complete accuracy is to feel the rules, not think them,” said Craig. “How do the rules feel to you? What does pass interference mean to you, not in here, but in here?”

Craig points at his head and then the wrong side of his chest for the heart.

“If you feel the rules, you don’t have to worry as much about memorizing them,” said Craig. “You can just feel when someone is offsides, you don’t even have to see it to know that it’s there. Sometimes I throw a flag and wait to see what I feel like it means. And you know what? Something always comes. You can trust your feelings like that. The brain will let you down, but your feelings never will.”

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