NCAA Football

Ten of the Worst College Football Calls of the Last Five Years

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Ten of the Worst College Football Calls of the Last Five Years

Poor Officiating
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen some pretty bad referees during our time as college football fans. They are out there. Many of us have had to stomach watching our favorite schools be forced to take a loss at the hands of these poor officials. If you are lucky enough to have never had bad officials assigned to your team then your time is coming.

From the east coast to the west coast, from the SEC to the Big East, no one is safe. You simply can’t escape the inevitable doom that bad referees place on the game.

Some referees do their job fine, but others… oh the others, are the ones that make lists like these.

We’ve all seen them, and you know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the guy who misses the blatant pass interference in the end zone on a fourth down in the fourth quarter, or the ref that didn’t see “conclusive evidence” from the super slow motion, extreme close up, HD replay he saw on his monitor, when the entire stadium knew the receiver was out of bounds.

It’s because of these referees that state police have to escort officials out of stadiums.

There have been so many bad calls throughout the years, that it would be impossible to adequately include all of them in one slideshow, but we’ve put together a list of ten of the worst calls throughout the last five years of college football.

Here is our “tribute”, if you will, to these terrible, terrible referees. Enjoy!

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Nebraska's Muffed Punt (2012)

Bad Referees
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of those calls that was reviewed and still left incorrect. The player is returning a punt, and the ball clearly bounces a foot away from either one of his feet. He was never touched by the ball, yet the ruling was a fumble and possession was given to Arkansas State.

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Oregon State's Touchdown Fumble (2007)

Bad Referees
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This is another call that is absolutely inexcusable. The referee is standing three inches away from the play at hand and misses this call? The ball carrier clearly passed the goal line, so this should have been an Oregon State touchdown, which would have clearly given them the win.

What’s worse is not only did Washington get possession, but they got all the way down the field and the play wasn’t reviewed. Calls like this make me wonder if something fishy goes on with officials in college football. There is simply no way someone could miss a call that blatantly.

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Vanderbilt's No Call (2012)

Bad Referees
Maxwell Kruger-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t necessarily a bad call, but deserves to be on this list because it is still poor officiating. This is a penalty that absolutely has to be called, and isn’t.

Look at the situation at hand. It’s fourth down with less than two minutes on the clock for Vanderbilt, who needs a touchdown to upset the number nine team in the country. Had this pass interference been called, Vanderbilt would have kept possession with a chance to tie late in the fourth quarter.

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He's Giving Him the Business (Multiple Years, 2009)

Bad Referees
Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

This one isn’t necessarily the wrong call, but more of one that’s just so funny it had to be included. I’m fairly certain “giving him the business” is not in the NCAA rule book.

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False Start on Everyone but the Center (2011)

Bad Referees
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

This is another call that is pretty funny. So many people jumped on a false start that the referee didn’t have just one number to call the penalty on, so he called it on the entire offensive line.

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TCU Interferes with Boise State's Championship (2011)

Bad Referees
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

I remember watching this game and getting extremely angry at this call when it happened. First off, the ball was uncatchable. Secondly, the receiver flopped so hard he should get an Emmy.

The real problem I have with this was that every person in America was crying about Boise State getting a shot in the National Championship, but they had trouble getting past TCU, who at the time was unranked.

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Oklahoma's Lost Fumble (2006)

Bad Referees
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This makes these officials look really lazy. Oregon needs an onside kick recovery to have a chance at winning the game. The players all leap for the ball. When the Oklahoma player is hit, he fumbles, creating a pile-up. During the pile-up, watch number 23 on Oklahoma. He grabs the ball before the pile-up even happens and heads toward the sideline.

The officials run into a pile where the ball isn’t even at and signal Oregon possession. I’ve never seen anything this bizarre. The Oklahoma players try to tell the referee they have the ball and the refs won’t give them the time of day. Oregon kept possession of this ball and went on to win the game 34-33.

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Hawaii Runs Into the Kicker (2008)

Bad Referees
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

This one is pretty bad. Fresno State needs a field goal to win. It misses. As Hawaii begins to celebrate, a flag comes in for “running into the kicker”.

As if that isn’t a bad enough penalty to give a team the win on, no one ran into the kicker. A defensive player dove near the kicker and the kicker flopped, giving his team an automatic victory.

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USC's Phantom False Start (2006)

Bad Referees
Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

This call is iffy at best. Technically, it is illegal for a wide receiver to move forward once he is set. However, I don’t like how late this call is made. From watching the entire team at the line of scrimmage you can’t really see anyone move. The receiver moved maybe half a second before the snap.

I don’t like this call simply because of how late it came in. The whistle was not blown until the quarterback was halfway through his windup to throw the ball. When a call comes that late, it seems as though the referees are waiting to see the result of the play before calling it back.

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Kenny Bell's B1G Block (2012)

Poor Officiating
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This call makes me sick. This is one of the best blocks I’ve ever seen in the game of football, at any level. What makes it so great, is that it is a completely clean block. Bell didn’t lead with his head, there was no helmet contact and the player was directly involved with the play. If this is a penalty, then it’s illegal to block.

The referee negates a touchdown for this hit citing “unnecessary roughness”. You can hear Gus Johnson and his counterpart clearly explaining why this is not a penalty.

Ten of the Worst College Football Calls of the Last Five Years