During a recent ADHD session, I was staring aimlessly out my window and began to think, “Why are such old men officiating young men’s games? All that money involved, and they can’t find younger men (or women) who are capable to officiate these finely-tuned, young athletic specimens? I could really go for a sandwich, some chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk.”
In honor of the men who don’t know when to say when and retire: The 5 Worst (in my opinion) Officiating Blunders in Elite Level Sports.
5. SEC Football Officiating Crew Suspended in 2009
Let’s start in October of 2009. How often do you see an entire crew suspended from work and pay because their calls are chronically craptastic? If you’re thinking never before -– you’re absolutely right. While this isn’t one specific call to rag on, it was a series of bad calls, all personal fouls of the 15 yard variety that greatly changed the face of two tight games in consecutive weeks: LSU at Georgia and Florida at Arkansas. Due to its definitive nature of the poor state of officiating, these overpaid hacks get a nod.
4. Ed Hochuli’s Blown Call – San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos – 2008
The call: Jay Cutler, the Broncos then-QB, fumbles the ball in the red-zone, late in the game, San Deigo recovers to secure the victory, but NO…Ed Hochuli blows the play dead as an incomplete pass. Un-reviewable. Denver would go on to score a TD and a two-point conversion for the win. Hochuli issued an apology, the NFL lowered his referee grade and Roger Goodell fined everyone for criticizing him. While it didn’t really change the outcome of the season, it still stands as one of the singular worst calls in NFL history.
3. Colorado vs. Missouri – 5th Down – 1990
Colorado drives the length of the field and sets themselves up with a 1st and goal from the three yard line. On first down the QB clocks/spikes the ball. The chain gang doesn’t change the down marker, and Colorado is given two 1st downs. On what would have been the official 4th down play, Colorado spiked the ball again to stop the clock. On 5th down, they scored for the win. Even after the mistake had been discovered, Colorado accepted the victory and went on to share the 1990 national title with Georgia Tech. (In 1940, Cornell beat Dartmouth on a 5th down play, yet offered a voluntary forfeiture of their victory after reviewing the film -– Dartmouth accepted.) And we all wonder what happened to Colorado football.
2. Roy Jones Jr. – 1988 Seoul Olympics
In one of the most lop-sided amateur boxing bouts in Olympic history, Roy Jones, Jr. pummeled his opponent over three rounds, landing 54 more punches and cruising to what should have been the Olympic gold medal. When the South Korean judges’ announcement came, the South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun was awarded the victory -– the best reaction was that of the Italian referee, who in disbelief immediately asked to see the scoring sheets. This one still has me creased, confused and unwilling to enjoy Korean BBQ.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals – 1985 World Series
I was eight years old, and I cried. One blown call cost the St. Louis Cardinals what should have been the 1985 World Series Championship. Bottom of the 9th, Kansas City’s Jose Orta hit a routine, slow roller to first baseman Jack Clark. Clark fielded it, tossed it to pitcher Todd Worrell, who tagged the bag, and the runner was called…safe by 1st base umpire, Don Denkinger. Known as “The Call,” to Cardinals fans, the 9th inning unraveled, the Royals won it on scrappy play and went on to destroy the Cardinals in Game 7 with Denkinger working as the plate umpire.