In honor of tonight’s BCS Championship game we here at HSH have decided to come up with three worst officiating performances from any championship event in sports history.
These sports all come from a wide variety of different in the sporting spectrum and all of which are calls that swung a series in a different direction had it been correctly called. Referees are human but part of working a job is the expectation that you will do it right; especially on a championship stage.
These unfortunate souls listed below will forever be apart of sports infamy for doing what any good official looks to avoid, becoming the story of the game.
The St. Louis Cardinals were only three outs away from winning their second World Series title in five years.
Up 1-0 going into the bottom the ninth against the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 Fall Classic, the I-70 series went from being considered boring to controversial in one swing of the bat.
Pictures like this one still hang in diners all across the state of Missouri from the 1985 World Series.
Former Cardinal, Jorge Orta led off the inning with a chopper down the first base line that was played by Cardinal second baseman, Tommy Herr. Herr flipped the ball to first baseman Jack Clark and appeared to have gotten the speedy Orta by a good step; unfortunately for the Cards, first base umpire Don Denkinger didn’t see it that way.
The error opened things up for the Royals as the Cardinals became unglued by the terrible call. The Royals would eventually load the bases and win the game on another former Cardinal, Dane Iorg’s walk-off single that sent Kansas City into oblivion.
The Cardinals never recovered from the blown call and lost the following night 11-0 to give KC their first and only World Series victory.
The Hurricanes were a roster full of future Pro- Bowlers and came into the Championship Game on a 34 game winning streak. Contrary, the Buckeyes were an upstart team that relied on defense, error-free offense, and some late game heroics to make it to the big game.
Shockingly, the Buckeyes dominated most of regulation and even led 17-7 going into the fourth quarter; however, Ken Dorsey and the Canes went on a furious comeback that culminated with Todd Sievers’s game- tying field goal as time expired.
In overtime, order was restored as Dorsey found Kellen Winslow Jr. for a touchdown pass to give Miami the lead. On the ensuing drive, Ohio State was knocking on the door but were down to 4th and 3 on Miami’s five yard line. The next play would be the talk of the college football world.
If it wasn’t for this generous call, Jim Tressell may not be the hero in Columbus that he is still today.
Buckeye quarterback Craig Krenzel looked for receiver Chris Gamble in the end zone. The ball appeared to hit Gamble square in the hands but Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe was able to knock the ball from his grasp and it unceremoniously hit the turf. The Canes celebrated on the field as if they won—until one referee had other ideas.
An extremely late flag fell to the ground and pass interference was called on Sharpe that send ABC commentator Dan Fouts into an uproar. “Bad call, bad call,” Fouts shouted at the replay as Miami players were stunned after thinking they won another BCS championship.
Ohio State would tie the game, score on the first drive of the second overtime, and hold on the ensuing one to steal the game from the Canes. The U hasn’t been the same, since.
We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn’t know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well.
Those were the very first words muttered by then Seahawks coach, Mike Holmgren at a celebration to welcome home Seattle’s first ever NFC Champion at Qwest Field.
The Steelers have long been rumored to be beneficiaries of partial treatment by the men in stripes.
As Pittsburgh was celebrating “their one for the thumb”, Seattle and many football fans were disgusted with the atrocity that was the officiating of Super Bowl XL.
Three calls in particular affected the game directly. In the first quarter, a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown run was reviewed and it appeared the ball had never crossed the line. Despite the challenge by Seattle, the officials upheld the call despite the evidence that Ben was down before the goalline. In another missed call, the officials called Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson for an offensive pass interference call that nullified a Seattle touchdown. Replay showed that Jackson did nothing illegal to get open and the 14 point swing helped the Steelers capture a 21-10 win over the Seahawks.
Had those plays have been called differently the game may have had a different result.
Calls in this game were so atrocious that Super Bowl XL referee, Bill Leavy admitted to missing calls during the contest.
“It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better … I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough … When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.”