The 10 Worst Officiating Calls In College Football This Year
Were the refs always this bad? Is the replay system bogus? Or is it just more obvious since the calls have happened in the big games?
These are the pressing questions facing college football fandom now that questionable calls have, more than ever, determined the outcome of the season.
I've ranked the top 10 worst calls (with video!), taking into account their egregious misuse of footage, their effect on the game, and their role in the BCS narrative.
Instances where a call was correct on the field and overturned in the booth are of particular interest for those that still believe the replay system works.
Maybe take an ibuprofen or two before you watch; this could be very upsetting.
No. 10: Refs Forget Which Side They're On in Florida/Georgia Game; Too Many Cocktails?
Evidence of an SEC conspiracy should be nullified by the quixotic sympathies of the referees.
If they were for Florida, why would they allow Tim Tebow to get speared on a late hit by Nick Williams and not call it? There's a ref watching the backfield, and not the action downfield, on every play.
If they were against Florida, how did the line judge miss Brandon Spikes sticking his fingers in Washaun Ealey's facemask?
Whatever their affiliations, the SEC fined Urban Meyer $30,000 for complaining, and they've done a great job shutting down the footage web-wide.
Maybe it looked something like this?
I've got it. It looked like this:
No. 9: USC's Taylor Mays Dehorns James Rogers
I'm not sure how referees miss a call like this. When a player's helmet is ripped off, doesn't it suggest illegal contact of some variety?
It probably didn't make a big difference in the game. It was too early for Oregon State to try an onside kick (unless Mike Leach was coaching) and USC's subsequent kick return was nothing special.
But man, that call is a no-brainer (excuse the pun).
No. 8: The Irish Are Denied a Chance to Answer the Wolverines
Don't get me wrong—I loved, loved, the result of this game as a Michigan fan.
But I didn't want it to end quite like it did. I thought they should have re-examined whether the ball got touched on the touchback, and why the clock goes from 12 to 10, and then to nine seconds so stiltedly.
And I definitely wondered whether there should have been another half-second left after Golden Tate fumbled the ball out of bounds. I thought the refs got lazy with their clock-stopping whistle, and I half-expected the jubilation to halt for one more Irish play.
It might have only been half a second's worth of difference, though considering the way our secondary has played all year, that might have been a costly second.
But instead, the refs went running into the stadium tunnel, and the Irish didn't get a chance to answer with a last ditch heave.
No. 7: A.J. Green Celebrates A Touch Too Much
This excessive celebration call on Georgia's AJ Green forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their 15 yard line, giving LSU better field position to mount the late comeback.
Watch the video—does that look like any more or less celebratory than your average game-winning touchdown dance?
No. 6: Indiana Confirms the Presence of Plastic Stuff in the Turf
Another disturbing example of the replay officials overturning a call on the field, this time it's Terrance Turner's touchdown against Iowa to put the Hoosiers ahead 28-14 getting overruled after the replay officials determined his foot was never down.
Iowa fans point to the "consistent shadow" as evidence the foot never touches before the knee does. But the reverse angle shows the bits of plastic scattered in field turf getting kicked up while Turner drags his foot in bounds.
The momentum of the game still hadn't shifted back in Iowa's favor, so it is conceivable that this call changed the game's outcome.
And though the Hawkeyes would go on to lose to Northwestern later in the season, Indiana now finds itself out of bowl contention.
If owl-eyed Lou Holtz can see it, it's gotta be an easier call than that.
No. 5: Clausen Fumbles, but Only On the Replay
It's a bad sign that there's not more outrage over this terrible call by the officials in the Pitt-Notre Dame game from last weekend. That means Notre Dame fans almost didn't want to win this game.
Clausen's arm is clearly moving forward when hit, even if it is at an awkward angle. You can see it here, (ESPN disabled embedding).
This play was originally ruled an incomplete pass, but then overturned after a timeout by Charlie Weis.
Of all possible incompetencies, the refs getting the call right on the field and wrong in the replay booth is one of the most upsetting circumstances of all.
The Irish were again denied a chance to mount a comeback and keep Weis' leaky schooner afloat. If this was the game that sealed his fate, it's a shame it had to end that way.
No. 4: Florida's Dustin Doe Fumbles the Pick at the Goal Line
In a tight Mississippi State/Florida contest, this unforgivable call—missed by the referee on the field, and possibly out of the replay officials jurisdiction if the ball is not ruled a fumble on the field—likely decided the game.
Dustin Doe intercepts a batted pass by Tyson Lee, but fumbles the ball after having it stripped before crossing the goal line to score the touchdown.
This "highlight" video doesn't do the bad call justice—from the other angle you can see Doe loses possession when the ball is stripped—but watch the Bulldogs' defensive players react to the strip, while the refs do nothing.
The Bulldogs would have needed nine more points, but the lead was have been far less insurmountable had the right call been made.
No. 3: Big East Refs Blow the Cincy-WVU Game to Smithereens
Unbeaten Cincinnati had already fumbled once in a tight game, and replays showed Isaiah Pead did again in reaching across the goal line for what was called a touchdown.
Not only did the ball not break the plane of the end zone, but Pead had it slapped out of his hands and recovered by West Virginia defenders at the three.
The touchdown tied it up before the half, and was likely the difference in a game decided by a field goal to keep the Bearcats unbeaten.
If Cincy ends up in the title game, this could be very costly indeed.
No. 2: LSU's Patrick Peterson Apparently Needs Three Feet Inbounds
It's one thing when a call that requires a fast reaction is wrong on the field. When this interception was made, it happened so quickly that a lot of people missed it.
But when the replay booth ignored that Patrick Peterson a) intercepts the ball without juggling it, and b) kicks up dirt in an effort to keep both feet inbounds—well, yes, Verne, reasonable people will disagree.
I'm not saying there's an SEC conspiracy towards a Florida/Alabama reunion. I just wonder what the guys in the replay booth are seeing that I'm not.
No. 1: Florida and Arkansas Look On as the Refs Craft a Tragic Tale
Watch the symphony of bad calls play out in this terrific compilation from Mike Slive's daring Florida/Arkansas 2009 Overture in A Major.
Marvel at the daring pass interference penalties called against the wrong team.
Lay back and allow erroneous personal foul calls to whisk past your ears.
Let your spirit soar like Tebow getting a phantom extra yard on a quarterback scramble.
It is an opera for the ages.