Winston Pushes Ref (11/24/14)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
If Jameis Winston was ejected for pushing a referee, would Florida State have lost to Boston College?



With 5:20 left in the third quarter, Florida State was tied 17-17 with Boston College when Jameis Winston pushed a referee out of the way to try and snap the ball.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, quarterback Jameis Winston and the ACC have all said the contact was “incidental and insignificant”. The ACC will not penalize the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback.

However, the NFL's former Vice President of Officiating and current rules analyst for FOX Sports Mike Pereira said that Winston should have been ejected.

“I've looked at this play several times, and in my opinion, Winston should have been penalized for shoving the referee not once, but twice. In fact, I feel he should have been ejected,” said Pereira.

If Winston had been ejected and Florida State penalized 15 yards for contacting an official, would Florida State have lost to Boston College?

Of course Florida State, led by Jameis Winston, went on to win the game 20-17. After the contact between Winston and the referee, Florida State was 61 percent likely to win in a tied game.

However, if Winston had been ejected and Florida State penalized for the contact with the referee, Florida State's expected win probability decreases to 55 percent.

It is not too surprising that there is a minimal difference between the projections with and without Winston. The game was tied, the contest was more than half over and Boston College is an average team in our Power Rankings.

The difference in projected points though between the simulations with and without Winston is exactly three points.

In a game decided by a field goal, losing Winston could have ended the Seminoles perfect season and the chance to play in the College Football Playoff.