As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament whittled itself down from 68 teams to the Final Four, the players weren’t the only ones advancing from round to round. Officials were also judged on their performances.
And for the fourth time in his 20-year career officiating Division I college basketball, Highlands Ranch resident Randy McCall made it all the way to the Final Four.
McCall’s officiating tenure began as a college student at the University of Northern Colorado when he started picking up area high school games. After graduation, he made the gradual transition to lower-tier collegiate ball and in 1992 began blowing his whistle at the Division I level.
And for those who watched the Michigan-Syracuse semifinal game April 6, it was McCall who made the controversial charging call against the Orange with just less than two minutes to play that helped the Wolverines cement their victory.
The former Cherry Creek High School athletic director said he watched the play multiple times after the game, and is more than confident he made the right call.
“Certainly, as referees, if we can make it through a game without a play like that where we have to make a boom-boom ruling, it makes it easier for everybody,” he said. “Right, wrong, indifferent, at the end of the day I had a decision to make. It was a hard play and it had an influence on the outcome. That’s just the way it is.
“I’ve had a lot of people say it was a great call, and I’ve had a lot say it was a ‘hard call to make’ which in referee terms means they would have called it different. … There are tough plays like that in every game but when it happens late in the game the perceived impact is a bit more magnified. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to crucify me for that one play, but there are a lot of people who say I got it right.”
McCall isn’t losing any sleep over it, that’s for sure, and said that officials always have a good feeling of whether they got the game right, and in this case, he said they did.
“I haven’t been in a game where any of us have been perfect yet,” he said. “The reality of it is there’s an accumulation of a lot of things that lead to one team winning.”
What McCall is most concerned with is fairness, and he will be the first to admit that can be one of the biggest challenges in a game where three men are working together and none see exactly what the others are seeing and calling.
“You have a good idea, but never know for sure. It’s a challenge,” he said. “It’s not like being a baseball umpire where you are going to sit back there and you know the guy is going to throw a ball or a strike. Our game is so fast, and so unpredictable.”
McCall, who referees in the Mountain West, Pac-12, Western Athletic Conference and Missouri Valley Conference during the season, said it’s a bit of an affirmation to advance through the rounds and be selected for the Final Four, but it isn’t everything.
“Anyone who hangs their hat on whether they are moved on to the second weekend or the Final Four, if that’s all they are going to judge their year by, I think they’re nuts,” he said. “There are so many really good referees out there.”
Other Final Four games McCall has done include the 2004 National Championship game between Connecticut and Georgia Tech, the 2005 semifinal between Michigan State and North Carolina and the 2010 semifinal between Duke and West Virginia.