I’ve got some news that should alarm all NFL fans and will boil the blood of every OSU fan.
Shawn Hochuli will join the ranks of NFL officials in the 2014 season.
Yes, the same Shawn Hochuli who presided over the worst officiating that I can remember, the 2012 OSU-Arizona football game.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported this week that Hochuli has been hired by the NFL, provided he passes his physical and background check. Of course, Hochuli already has passed his background check. He’s the son of NFL referee Ed Hochuli, the guy with the big biceps and tendency to explain every call like he’s filibustering in the U.S. Senate. Google “famous” and “NFL referee,” and eight of the top 10 items are about Ed Hochuli.
King reported that Shawn Hochuli has been in the NFL’s developmental program. I have no idea if Shawn Hochuli is a good official. He comes from the Pac-12, which makes him suspect to start with, since that league has had a dubious football-officiating reputation for years, but many of us have overcome meager beginnings. I do know this. In the one game I witnessed live that Shawn Hochuli officiated, he and his crew were total incompetents.
The Cowboys lost to Arizona 59-38 that night in Arizona and deserved to lose. They didn’t come close to stopping ‘Zona, and Wes Lunt threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter when OSU had climbed back within six points and had good field position. So Hochuli didn’t cost the Cowboys the game. He just cost himself a good name for anybody who was watching.
Hochuli grew agitated early in the game when Mike Gundy protested a non-call – Arizona had 12 players on the field, a reviewable play – and was forced to throw the challenge flag. Gundy was proven right. OSU was called for holding on the next play, and eventually the Cowboys were called for 15 penalties for 167 yards.
Later in the game, Arizona threw a touchdown pass – but the play clock clearly had run out before the ball was snapped. And it wasn’t close. I was watching. It was one or two seconds later – an eternity on the gridiron. You would expect a junior high crew to catch that. Replay negated the touchdown, but if replay was needed for that call, then anarchy reigned, because that was the easiest call a crew could make. And Hochuli’s crew didn’t make it.
Some of those penalties were deserved, no doubt. But an irate OSU staff sent the game tape to the Big 12 office for review and eventually were told that, in the opinion of the Big 12 officiating analysts, five of the major penalties called were incorrect.
Maybe Shawn Hochuli is the second coming of Red Cashion. Maybe the NFL knows what it’s doing hiring Hochuli.
But I’m not buying it. I saw Shawn Hochuli’s total lack of control over a football game. And I’m left to believe that the NFL has hired him because of one thing.
His last name.