Five worst officiating calls of 2008

Ed HochuliYeah, officials have blown a lot this year. But here are just five incidents in 2008 when they blew big time:

1. Washington vs. BYU, Sept. 6: Granted, Washington lost every game this season, but they clearly had a shot to beat BYU in September. The Huskies’ quarterback Jake Locker scored a touchdown with two seconds left to bring his team within one. After diving into the end zone, Locker threw his hands — and the ball — into the air in, what appeared to be, a natural reaction of pure excitement. The ref, however, ruled the ball-flipping and jumping up and down to be “excessive celebration.” As a result, kicker Ryan Perkins was placed an extra 15 yards back, his game-tying extra point was blocked and the Huskies lost.

2. 2008 World Series, Game 3: An error by the first base umpire in Game 3 of the Fall Classic nearly gave the Tampa Bay Rays a series-turning win over the Phillies. It was the top of seventh, Rays at bat. Carl Crawford led off and tapped a well-placed bunt up the first-base line. The Phillies near-46-year-old Jamie Moyer dashed down the line, dove to field the ball and, in one graceful motion, tossed it to Ryan Howard at first, who snatched out of the air bare-handed with his foot on the bag. It looked as though Howard — with ball in hand — stood on the base awaiting Crawford’s arrival. The umpire thought otherwise. Safe! The Rays scored two subsequent runs to come back within one, but the Phillies managed to hang on to their lead for the win and, well, you know the rest.

3. Georgetown vs. Villanova, Feb. 11: Like Holmes’ catch, this one was all about the line. With the score tied at 53 apiece and only a second left on the clock, Georgetown’s Jonathan Wallace sped up the floor, dodging Villanova defenders. Still 70-something feet from the basket, Wallace heard the ref blow the whistle and, thinking there was no way a foul would be called in such a tight situation, Wallace assumed he stepped out of bounds. And when you assume you … I won’t go there. In short, the ref did the unthinkable and called a foul on ‘Nova’s Corey Stokes, gave Wallace two freebies at the line and handed Georgetown a 55-53 win.

4. Heat vs. Clippers, Nov. 29: Sometimes a bad call is any call. With Miami trailing 97-96 and the clock reading 7.6 seconds, Los Angeles’ Baron Davis inbounded the ball after a Miami score. With none of his teammates open, he heaved the ball down court, hoping a Clipper would miraculously take control. Dwayne Wade got it instead. As he grabbed the ball out of mid-air and was falling onto the scorers’ table, Wade threw the ball toward the three lone Heat players near the basket. The ref thought Wade had stepped out of bounds but, after reviewing the play, the steal was upheld. Unfortunately, the breakaway play was cut off, and the Heat was forced to inbounds, which resulted in the Clippers fouling and, ultimately, the Heat losing.

5. Broncos vs. Chargers, Sept. 14: Here you go, Ravens fans. If you thought your call was bad, think about how the Chargers felt on this one. With less than two minutes remaining, the Broncos lined up on the Chargers 1-yard line with the chance to tie the game. As Jay Cutler dropped back, the ball slipped out of his hands and into those of San Diego linebacker Tim Dobbins. As soon as the ball touched the ground, referee Ed Hochuli quickly — too quickly — blew his whistle. Hochuli ruled an incomplete pass, though the replay clearly showed it was a fumble. So, Denver regrouped, scored a touchdown, followed with a two-point conversion and won 39-38. Hochuli later apologized for his error.

You’ll never get a Charger fan to say this but I still feel bad for Hochuli. That guy has been a great ref throughout his career but he’ll always be remembered for this one mistake. Albeit it was a massive mistake, but still…

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