Four of the five power conferences—the ACC (Clemson), Big Ten (Ohio State), Big 12 (Oklahoma), and SEC (LSU)—were represented in the four College Football Playoff selections. That means the infamous Pac-12 referees got the nod for the national championship.
The officiating team is out, and even beyond the poor reputation of the conference’s officials as a whole, individual members of the squad have been involved in some very controversial moments over the last few years. If there’s a questionable call in this game, as there so often is, it could become a major storyline.
We had plenty of that in one of the semifinals. Ohio State fans and officials were furious with the SEC crew that handled the Fiesta Bowl against Clemson.
Jon Wilner of The Mercury News pointed out two major issues with tonight’s Pac-12 referees at the center.
The first is from the 2017 Music City Bowl, where Chris Coyte, the referee for tonight’s name, controversially ejected Kentucky star Benny Snell from the game.
“Coyte was involved in a highly-controversial incident at the 2017 Music City Bowl, when he ejected Kentucky running back Benny Snell for making contact with him.
“It was an extremely poor decision by Coyte, who initiated the contact, then booted Snell for responding.
“Even worse — much worse — was the backlash: Coyte received threatening calls, according to an ESPN report.”
This is how Benny Snell got ejected pic.twitter.com/twelmXwYde
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) December 29, 2017
The more significant one came this fall, during a game between Cal and Washington State. That involved tonight’s line judge Dale Keller and field judge Kevin Kieser.
“Two of the officials reportedly assigned tonight, Keller and Kieser, were part of the unfathomable blunder during the Cal-Washington State game this season.
Richards, who is not on tonight’s crew, was suspended for a game after the incident. Keller and Kieser were among those that were “downgraded” as part of the staff.
The fact that they are still on a national championship crew will probably be a major talking point if tonight features any super controversial calls or decisions.