The Refs

Was so thrilled we won the game today, what an amazing feeling, it's been so long since I felt so happy after a football game. There is nothing like feeling proud to be a fan of your team when they win a huge game.

However, the CFL seriously needs to work on improving their image so I can feel just as proud of the league itself. Don't get me wrong, I love watching CFL but for me to be proud to say "I'm a CFL fan" the league has to seriously improve in one area in particular, and that is the officiating.

As the players get bigger, stronger and faster, and the plays move to supersonic speed; the officiating has to match. It has been clear for some years now, that the refs in the CFL are not evolving their skills like the players have. I watched a boatload of football this season, and I don't think I watched a single game where there wasn't a questionable or bad call somewhere in a game. And now today, even instant replay is becoming a problem for them with what I think was a botched reversal on a fumble. In the CFL challenges are meant to be used by coaches as back up to plays that were really difficult to call, but it seems coaches are using them as protection to reverse calls that refs are getting wrong when the correct call should have been made in the first place. Soon 4 challenges in a game won't be enough to keep the officials from completely debacling a game. It is frustrating to watch, it drops the quality of the product and makes the league look bush.

For the league to get stronger, and become more viable to the masses, the CFL has to do something this off season to start to get this problem fixed. Spend some money and form a commitee to figure out how the officiating can be improved. Should the officials be hired full time and sent down to the states in the winter to improve their skills? Does the league hire American officials who have better training? I would love to see a Tiger-Cat executive such as Mr. Young, Mr. Mitchell, or Mr. O'Bivollich spearhead this, along with the league, other teams and the players to get this problem fixed! For the sake of the game, and to make us all proud CFL fans!



Any human activity can be performed better, so I agree we can and will improve our refereeing. On the other hand the CFL refs are by and large doing a good job. The biggest complaint I have is with TSN who like to criticise the refs. They insist the refs erred by calling penalties and then insist the refs erred by not calling penalties. Their criticism makes us fans (who naturally assume the TSN announcers are the experts) focus on the calls of the refs instead of the play of the teams.

As a Ticat fan I agree that the fumble the Ticats recovered late in the game should not have been reversed. I admit to calling the replay ref all sorts of bad names. TSN showed several close-up slow-motion replays and the announcers could not figure out what the call was likely to be. As a Governor of the league I'll admit the play was so close either ruling would have been correct.

In any close game like today's game you could argue that the ref's made the difference. But that is true in any close game in any team sport. We need our broadcast partners at TSN to quit undermining the good work our refs are doing.

I think the fact Jake Ireland is ruling on challenge calls really incurs a recurring nightmare for Tiger-Cats fans too.

I can understand the difficulty in the fumble by Whitaker. What I was keying in on was how they were going to call essentially the same play scenario on the Thigpen play. Glad to see the consistency. If it had of gone the other way...I would have come to the conclusion that a fix was in.

As for the bogus PI in the happens and with Richardson's "dive" backwards, he got the call. Perhaps our receivers need to take acting lessons too. But then...we may have got that one back when later in the game, Richardson was covered in the middle of the field a little to aggressively, where he was essentially turned prior to the ball getting there.

I'm sorry Caretaker but with great respect I disagree.
It was a late hit and too the head, a blatent non call leaving our starting QB out of the game.
The TSN were calling it the way it was, another good call by the officials was overturned, the ball was determined a fumble and was the closest play the TSN guys had seen, but it was inconclusive and should not have been overruled in T.O., then a very soft PI in the endzone call gave the Als a gift TD.
Our guys could have let down then and there but this team never gave up and defeated the Als and the refs today and were deserving of the hard fought victory!!!!

Toronto Sun excerpt:


It would be interesting to know Jake Ireland’s definition of conclusive evidence.

Apparently, that is what is required to overturn a call made on the field.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats sure looked like they had recovered a Brandon Whitaker fumble on their own three-yard line. The referees on the field thought they had, too.

Montreal’s Marc Trestman wisely threw his challenge flag, as any coach would with such a game-changing play in any question.

Replays from the back and the front seemed to show Whitaker hitting the turf and the ball coming out simultaneously. If that was in fact the case, then how does the league overturn the call on the field? The only way that happens is if there is conclusive evidence to the contrary. And if Ireland thought that was conclusive, we need to know his definition of that word because it doesn’t jive with our own.

Same article concludes with this statement, which I quite like:
We would love to make some witty comment about the Montreal Alouettes middle linebacker Bear Woods and his bad hair but he didn’t do enough in the game to warrant one.

The refs play too big a part in most CFL games. Often late in the game there are pass interference calls when the ball is thrown up for grabs. Makes the scores close, but sucks in regards to excitement and if your team is the one that gets called on some bogus call. I say if the ball is thrown up for grabs it is a free ball and all players have a chance to aggressively pursue it.

As for the Montreal "fumbel" that was overturned. I totally agree, there was no conclusive evidence that it was not a fumble therefore the call on the field should have stood. Hamilton's ball.

The CFL is a fabulous league, great players, fantastic entertainment, and an integral part of Canadian culture.

Unfortunately, the officiating has not kept up with the game, and is as bad as it ever has been historically, and is the only mickey-mouse aspect of the game.

It just has to improve, and that can only be done by a clean house of Ireland and most refs. There has to be accountability and not excuses. In addition, as it is clear that they err constantly, especially on pass interference calls, despite the delay, a coach should have an extra challenge to deal with a bad call.

Further, if a coach is successful in a challenge, he should be able to keep not only the time out but still be able to have a challenge, in that if a challenge is successful, why penalize the coach for getting it right.

IN addition, Ireland's explanation on that fumble challenge by the Als should alone be enough to have him out of the job.

As fans, we have far too much invested invested emotionally in the team and the game to have refs mess it up. I know the caretaker has not only emotions but actual money invested in the team, but he is far to classy and in control to attack the league officials, so I will do it for the team, and more importantly, for CFL fans across the land. FIX THE REFFING

there was a point in this game where I said to the others i was watching with, 'we should pull a russian"
and walk off the field. I felt the officiating and the 'war room' was plain horrible. The CFL must get their calls
more consistant.

I agree the Refs have destroyed to many games with complacent calls,the Cats beat the Als and the Ref today so good job boys and take Winnipeg next week. :smiley:

We watch replay after replay of challenged plays on TV and sometimes we still aren't sure of the correct call.

Officials only see those plays once in "real time" and have to make a call on them

whether they had a good vantage point to see those plays, or not.

We fans complain that something must be done about the officials.

because we feel some calls were incorrect calls.

What the CFL has done recently to help with challenged plays is set up a studio in Toronto
where high resolution video clips from a mutiple angles are reviewed by retired officials

instead of having the game officials review a few video clips of challenged plays
from a low tech camera set up down on the sideline like it used to be done.

90% of the time those challenged plays end up getting called correctly

with the help of the retired officials reviewing them in the studio.

That's the best, I expect, that the per centages can get.

On the other plays where the video review is inconclusive

the call that was made on the field stands, wrong or not.

Well said. The officials are human, and are therefore subject to human failings. I would be surprised if they got all calls correct. And I think you are correct that they get almost all calls right. And having a central review office with multiple HD angles is a vast improvement over the old "under the hood" method.

That said, the use of video review could use a bit of tweaking. I suggest the following:

  • Allow unlimited challenges by the coaches, at any time of the game.
  • Allow challenges on ball spots on all downs.
  • Automatically review all end zone plays and field goals.
  • To avoid misuse of challenges, any coach challenge that the reviewers deem an obvious correct call would result in a delay of game penalty. Ball spot adjustments would need to be significant, maybe 25% closer to the first down marker, in order to qualify as a successful challenge.

This might add a few minutes to a game, but isn't getting the right call worth it? I'm still on the fence on whether to allow challenges on penalties / non-penalties (e.g. interference, holding, offside). Maybe only on end zone plays, i.e. potential scoring plays?

Sorry for the broken record here. I know I have suggested this a few times now. With any luck at all, the league opens up the suggestion box again and I can send this in. If not, maybe they (or someone with the league's ear?) read this and consider it for next year?

As a Governor of the league I'll admit the play was so close either ruling would have been correct.
While the play could, absolutely, have been called either way originally - this does not speak to the real issue. That being the decision to overturn the original call.

As noted in the Sun article ...

Replays from the back and the front seemed to show Whitaker hitting the turf and the ball coming out simultaneously. If that was in fact the case, then how does the league overturn the call on the field? The only way that happens is if there is conclusive evidence to the contrary. And if Ireland thought that was conclusive, we need to know his definition of that word because it doesn’t jive with our own.

There is absolutely no way that a conclusive decision could be made here ... it was completely subjective, and as such the original call MUST be accepted.

Anybody watching this league, consistently, knows the officiating is egregiously horrible. For it to be condoned by a governor is even sadder.

Like many of you I was extremely POed after that fumble was over-turned and then the pass interference call was made on the next play, to pretty much hand Montreal 7 points at a time that Hamilton was somewhat in control of the game. That series was looking like a turning point in the game. Fortunately the Ti-Cats hung in there and even after the botched field goal ended up winning.

Overall I think the refs do a good job. They sometimes make bad calls on critical plays which can really be frustrating. I think the current challenge system is OK and like the fact that it is often handled fairly quickly (unlike the NFL process). In our league when there is never two games going on at the same time, I really wish that the onus on getting the critical calls correct should be placed more on the officials, and not on the coaches. Limiting the number of challenges is sometimes not fair if by chance a number of close calls go against a team. An off-field head official should be monitoring all plays and calling for reviews when necessary to get things right, not just when they are inside 3 minutes. They should also be allowed to review penalties that are costly. Defensive pass interference can be as big a game breaker as a turnover, and it needs to be reviewed when large gains can be made. I know the concern is that more time for reviews slows down the game, but in this day and age of technology I believe most big plays can be reviewed and a decision can be determined before the next play is whistled in. The only issue is the number of people required to bring up the camera views and review the plays.

I know that Bob has complained about TSNs input on plays, and agree they sometimes unintentionally undermine the refs, but if things are done quick enough, TSN won't have as much time to put in their 2 cents. Usually by the time the coach has put in a challenge, the decision should be known. Maybe Jake is a little technically challenged and needs a little help, although I'm sure the bigger issue in time is probably the set of standards used to review plays (ie. unlike TSN who picks the best 2 or 3 views to review, the league may review them all and spend time doing close ups). Some improvements to the process may speed up calls, and then allow more reviews to be done without the fans even realizing what is happening.

Let's hope we end up on the better side of the big calls in next weeks game.


Speeding up the replay review is one area the league needs to improve, for the reasons you give above.

I dunno, not sure I want to change a thing. Statistics (including penalties) are, as they say, for losers.