Alabama lost its shot at back-to-back national titles on a last-second touchdown to finish off a massive fourth quarter comeback by Clemson, so it’s understandable that they’re upset. Anyone would be, and the heightened emotions of college sports, which can feel like life or death even compared to the pros, only adds to that weight.
When you’re upset, you look for places to assign blame, and Alabama defensive back Hootie Jones turned to the officiating.
“They were getting a lot of calls,” Jones said. “We felt like the refs were just against us. I’m not saying we got out of poise on our own. We felt like it was starting to be taken from us.”
Jones didn’t mention a specific play, but he was possibly referring to two of Clemson’s touchdowns, in which a crossing route from an outside receiver caused collisions between Crimson Tide defensive backs and freed the slot receiver to go to the outside. Both times, the Alabama sideline erupted in pleas for offensive pass interference, but both times the referees declined to flag the plays.
The wide receivers did make motions as if they were looking to receive passes, and that sort of play is used — and goes uncalled — all the time. When one or two plays decide the outcome of the game, it’s easiest to point at the referees and say they made the difference, but those specific plays are too tough to truly assign blame to the officials.