Referees are not the most well-liked people in general and that goes double for the world of college football. This season alone has been full of curious and controversial calls that make you wonder when all the robot referees are going to get here (not soon enough). We’ve even gotten to the point where the NFL is firing refs after truly terrible games, so football referees on all levels are on notice these days.

So when a referee does a great job, going above and beyond to ensure the integrity of the game, we have to take a moment to stop and appreciate it.

Tuesday, the Washington Huskies and Ohio State Buckeyes were battling it out in the Rose Bowl when a balloon started floating down towards the field. Were it to drop much further, it would no-doubt delay the game and annoy a bunch of coaches who are already annoyed people in general. John McDaid, one of the SEC referees on the game crew, made a mad sprint from his spot in the end zone to track the renegade balloon down. He not only leaped into the air to make a stunning grab but he popped it with his hands to ensure that it was no longer any kind of distraction.

Hero, thy name is John McDaid. Not to mention…what is that guy’s workout regiment? May we all be blessed with hops like that as we get older.

Sure it looks like a harmless balloon but who knows what kind of havoc it could have wreaked on the unsuspecting players below? McDaid might have prevented an international incident for all we know.

Of course, more than saving the Rose Bowl from the scourge of that evil party favor, McDaid made himself a meme, which is perhaps the most important gift of all.

The game itself was fairly pedestrian but no one will ever forget the Rose Bowl Ref and The Balloon That Wasn’t.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to