Let's talk for a minute about the worst call ever made by a referee in the history of Cougar football.
It's not the '98 Rose Bowl.
It's not the '02 Apple Cup.
It's a game that was inconsequential in a season that meant even less, the Cougars were jobbed by officials harder than any other game in the history of their athletic endeavors in 1999 when the Wildcats came to town.
Arizona led 17-10 late in the 3rd quarter when quarterback Steve Birnbaum was injured and replaced by freshman Jason Gesser. Gesser led the Cougs to two 4th quarter touchdown drives on Arizona's Desert Swarm defense and tied the game 24-24 with roughly four minutes left in the game. WSU and Arizona traded possessions and things appeared to be heading for overtime. With five seconds left, Wildcat quarterback Keith Smith heaved a hail mary from midfield.
The ball hit the ground.
The ball BOUNCED.
The ball was retrieved off the bounce by Wildcat Receiver Bobby Wade
Touchdown. Game over.
I emphasize the ball bounced because he did not merely trap the ball. There was no ambiguity here. He fielded a one-hopper for the winning touchdown. Replay didn't exist at the time so everyone trotted off the field while everyone in attendance watched what happened on the Jumbotron over and over.
To this day, it still remains the worst call I've ever seen.
The headline in the Lewiston Morning Tribune nearly ran a full front page that simply read "HAIL NO." The Pac-10 chief of officials said the ball should've "definitely not been ruled a catch." But we all know how next-day apologies from the chief of officials work.
From the Tucson Citizen (note even the Tucson paper admits the ball hit the ground):
Wade caught 30 passes as a freshman, none more memorable than the 45-yard catch (non-catch?) on a 45-yard Hail Mary from Keith Smith on the last play of the game at Washington State. Wade, falling down in the end zone as five players went for the ball, grabbed the ball, although it did appear to briefly hit the turf. The use of instant replay to help officials was not in use yet in college football. UA won 30-24.
"I caught the ball," Wade insisted after the game. "I showed the ball (to officials) right away, so I was sure they were going to give it to me."
Walk into traffic, Bobby Wade. You made no such catch, liar.
ON TO THIS YEAR!
Game time: 3 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Washington State IMG Network on TuneIn
Line: Arizona favored by 2.5