Powell: Stop blaming officials for your team’s subpar performances

Brock Purdy celebrates with teammates after Iowa State scores a touchdown against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Oct. 23.

James Powell

AMES- There were many downfalls from Iowa State’s disappointing loss in Morgantown on Saturday.

The defense gave up too many big plays and got torn apart in the secondary. The defensive line failed to gain and control the line of scrimmage despite a relatively young West Virginia offensive line.

There were certainly more, but one aspect of the game was surely not to cast all your blame: the officiating.

I’m here to tell you the guys in stripes are not the reason your favorite team lost. That’s usually never the case.

Referees miss calls. Sometimes they stick out in the game. Once in a while, they make more questionable calls than not and fanbases take to Twitter to bash them.

I would say Saturday’s game between Iowa State and West Virginia falls into the third and final category.

There were many Cyclone fans up in arms about the controversial touchdown catch by West Virginia in the third quarter, the Breece Hall goal-line fumble and even the spot on Purdy’s 3rd down run on the final drive of the game.

I’m not here to argue whether it’s right or wrong. I wouldn’t want to be in their position, so I usually tend to steer clear of being too critical.

What I am here to argue, however, is that those calls are not the reason the Cyclones lost this football game.

Perhaps it could be the nearly 500 yards of offense given up to an offense that has sputtered frequently this season, that being the Mountaineers.

Iowa State was consistently being beat deep and not being able to do anything about it throughout the entire game. One could argue it was even the Cyclone offense becoming stagnant at times and failing to score in the fourth quarter.

When a team comes into a road game against a sub-.500 team they should beat, you can’t perform like that and try and use some questionable calls as a potential scape-goat.

And guess what? I know Matt Campbell isn’t.

Regardless of what he thought about the fumble ruling on Breece Hall’s goal-line run, he knows it’s never in the hands of the officials.

“I watch the line judge on our side signal a touchdown, and then it’s not a touchdown. I guess I don’t understand really the mechanics of what’s going on… we can’t put ourselves in a position where we let others dictate the outcome of the game,” Campbell said postgame.

I’m sure the players aren’t blaming some bad calls for their performance, that’s the job of the fanbase.

It could have been part of being in the heat of the moment, fresh off of a last-second loss and feeling like your hopes of a return trip to Arlington, Texas, for a Big 12 Championship game are dwindling fast.

But the amount of people who try and say that officials are the only reason, or even the main reason their favorite team lost are not being honest with themselves.

Good teams don’t let other factors dictate the outcome for them. They take matters into their own hands and power through adversity to win anyways. 

Iowa State is a good team. They just had a bad day, and it’s nobody’s fault but its own. I doubt they’re on the sideline during the game complaining about bad calls. 

If they are, that means their focus is not on the next play, the next drive. And that’s what you have to do. And it’s a slippery slope letting that get into your heads.

Take last week, for example. The taunting penalty on Xavier Hutchinson was as atrocious as any I’ve seen. Most would agree.

But what did the Cyclones do? Well, Campbell was visibly upset with the officials. But his offense put their heads down, and kept working.

And three plays later, Hutchinson was celebrating again in the end zone. Later, thousands would be celebrating on the field as “Sweet Caroline” was sung at maximum volume.

While that was one call, and there were multiple in Morgantown that came into question, the point still stands — they still won.

The Cyclone defense gave up six plays of more than 20 yards. They let Jarret Doege throw for a career-high 370 yards. They let Leddie Brown run for over 100 yards.

The only number that matters the most, the 38 put up by West Virginia, was the most since 2019 from an opponent. It was very out of character for a defense that is usually stout.

But this isn’t to bash the Cyclones for getting beat by a talented and skilled West Virginia team. I’m not critical of officials and I’m certainly not critical of plays I could never attempt to make or players I will never be as talented as.

What I can relate to are the multitudes of people who went straight to social media or even word-of-mouth to tell their friends and family that the officials were out to get them, and the referees “always seem to be out to get the Cyclones.”

It’s just not true.

These officials don’t have biases. They aren’t rooting against your team. They have a job to do, and sometimes 50/50 calls are made.

So before you get up in arms about the calls that didn’t go the Cyclones’ way, watch how many times the Iowa State secondary got burned. Or the amount of times Hall got stood up at the line of scrimmage by a poor day from Iowa State’s offensive line. Or even the constant pressure Brock Purdy had in his face during the game.

Look at all of those factors before trying to blame outside ones, like the calls made on the field by officials.