Football Zebras™

Hochuli and Vinovich likely Conference Championship referees [Update: confirmed]


Update: The NFL has confirmed that Ed Hochuli will be the referee for the AFC Championship game and that Bill Vinovich will be the referee for the NFC Championship game.

Full crews for the Conference Championships posted here.

Multiple sources have told Football Zebras that Ed Hochuli and Bill Vinovich will work the Conference Championship games next Sunday. Those sources also acknowledged that neither referee has officially been given the assignment, so it is subject to change.

Both Hochuli and Vinovich worked as alternate referees on the sidelines during the Divisional Playoff round. We have been told that the league is testing a procedure to place the Conference Championship referees in the alternate assignments to reduce the off time between the last game of the regular season and the third-round playoff game. The alternate is one of three officials assigned to each playoff game. In case of injury to one of the officials, the appropriate alternate official would replace him or her on the field; alternate officials also help control the sidelines and facilitate communication with the replay booth and the game supervisor.

Based on the assignment of Hochuli and Vinovich to an NFC and AFC divisional game respectively, it is believed that the championship game assignments would switch conferences, thus putting Hochuli in Denver for the Patriots-Broncos game and Bill Vinovich in Charlotte, N.C., for the Cardinals-Panthers.

Again, this is not confirmed, but there is a consensus among our sources that these assignments will be made official on Monday or Tuesday.

The Super Bowl referee still appears to be either Clete Blakeman or Tony Corrente.

93 comments for “Hochuli and Vinovich likely Conference Championship referees [Update: confirmed]

  1. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 17, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Hochuli in Carolina and Vinovich in Denver

  2. Michael Boyko
    January 17, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Forget Vinovich in Denver , he is not fair and favours New England Patriots .This Referee would guarantee the Patriots win.I would like to see a fair game.Vinovich is always involved in some scandal and one sided penalty calling. This is all well known.The NFL has to look at this and understand that on the scale of the worldwide stage that these games are played you cannot have a circus clown running the officiating.It takes away from the validity of the NFL.

  3. Anon
    January 17, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    As long as Pete Morelli isn’t assigned to anything, I’ll take any of the others.

  4. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 12:07 am

    I say that come Monday Bill Vinovich will be working the AFC Championship Game

  5. West Coast
    January 18, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Then it appears that Anderson and Cheffers won’t see the field …stunning

  6. Bagley
    January 18, 2016 at 12:45 am

    The best ref in the NFL vs. a no-brainer bottom 4 ref.

  7. T-Max
    January 18, 2016 at 12:48 am

    I hope Hochuli is refereeing the NFC but I also hope Cam Newton don’t accuse Hochuli of saying things to him like what happened during the refusal season.

  8. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 12:55 am

    I think Hochuli will referee the NFC Championship Game and Vinovich will referee the AFC Championship Game

  9. Dan
    January 18, 2016 at 1:31 am

    What happen to Carl Cheffers?

  10. Zach
    January 18, 2016 at 9:39 am

    So no Cheffers or Anderson? NFL B.S. at its finest

  11. Neil M
    January 18, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I wrote in last weeks thread that I thought Hochuli must have graded out as a Tier 1 based on the fact he hadn’t seen the field yet. Bar the Cam Newton thing, Hochuli had no controversy or obvious dings from the year so he seemed sure to get a playoff assignment. If he gets Brady-Manning XVII then that is a pretty good one to end your season with.

  12. Chuck
    January 18, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I will say it now – Hochuli will be the referee at next year’s super bowl. Look at the assignments since SB 45. All the referees have been from the general location of the game. #45 Walt Anderson (NO playoff games) from Texas game at Dallas. #46 Indianapolis. #47 Jerome Boger, from Atlanta game at New Orleans. #48 Terry McAluay, from DC, game in New York. #49 Bill Vinovich, from southern California, game in Arizona. This year it will be Correntte.

  13. Chuck
    January 18, 2016 at 10:36 am

    #46 John Parry from Indiana, lives in Ohio, game at Indianapolis

  14. John
    January 18, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I hope Hochuli is not the NFC official. He has admitted in the past that he calls the Cardinals very close to avoid being called a homer (he is an attorney in Phoenix).

    Also Clete Blakeman has no business being the Referee in the Super Bowl after his horrible performance in the Divisional round. His Crew refused to call holding, with GB mugging Calais Campbell on every play Saturday night.

  15. AJS
    January 18, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Does this imply that the alternates at the other positions in the divisional round will be the officials for the championship game? If so we already know 12 of the 14 officials (though not which crew they would be on)

  16. James Abare
    January 18, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I totally agree blackman led crew was horrible even though he wasnt the only one out there he is the leader of the crew and if these perdictions hold up i cant beleive walt anderson did not get a playoff game

  17. Flanfan15
    January 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    If Vinovich is the AFC Title Referee, Denver is Fucked! Vinovich sucks both in Basketball and Football. He’s one sided. Ed on the other hand I would not want. He sucked in Denver vs Cincinnati! As Long as my Broncos show up I am okay with who ever officiates the game!

  18. jarbitro
    January 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Does this mean two referees from tier 1 won’t get any playoff games?

  19. Dan
    January 18, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    If Hochuli is on the field we may get penalty flags thrown on Monday or Tuesday … Did you see his performance earlier where he tossed a flag 30+ seconds after a play ended? Embarassing for him and his crew.

    Hochuli needs to retire so he can stand in front of a mirror in a weight lifting gym 24/7.

  20. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I say Vinovich will be in Denver

  21. Leroy Kelly
    January 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Hard to believe that Walt Anderson doesn’t work a playoff game. Mcaulay was awful again yesterday.

    The NFL has problems.

  22. C.J.
    January 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Vinovich led the disastrous crew three years ago for the Broncos-Ravens double-overtime divisional game.

  23. M William
    January 18, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Hoculi shouldn’t be allowed to ref a flag football game. Beyond incompetent.

  24. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Bill Vinovich is likely going to reff the AFC Championship game in Denver

  25. January 18, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    The officiating is awful period regardless what ref you like or don’t like. The NFL needs to clean up its act. And yes Blakeman was awful this past weekend.

  26. John
    January 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Lorenzo. You need to tell everyone six more times your opinion. They didn’t pick it up the first eight.

  27. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    I think Bill Vinovich will be the Referee for the AFC Championship Game and Ed Hochuli will be the Referee for the NFC Championship Game

  28. Holybit
    January 18, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Some folks posting on here need to learn a little common decency. Internet if often rife with remarks we would never make to one another face to face. Please, try to put aside your emotions and be a bit more objective.

    The Referees in question are top tier for their profession dedicated to their craft with the upmost professionalism. They are also human beings that make mistakes always striving to improve. The notion that they are “throwing” games as suggested by some posters here is ludicrous.

  29. BJ Hoffman
    January 18, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I had the fortunate opportunity to meet most of the Torbert crew in Denver prior to the Den/SD game at the hotel they were staying at the night prior. I believe they treat this as a full time job and work hard to separate themselves from media bias and outside opinion. I spoke at great length with SJ3, Scott Edwards and he had no idea who Mike Florio was and said he doesn’t pay attention because his focus is on the rules and mechanics and working at the highest level requires his neutrality.
    I love the science of football officiating and it is tough at any level.
    Now, I do predict Hochuli in Denver and Vinovich at Carolina.

  30. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 18, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    I still predict that Vinovich will be in Denver

  31. Greg Lacy
    January 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Boooo!!! Carl Cheffers deserves to be in the show!!!

  32. will f johnson
    January 18, 2016 at 11:53 pm


    From what some people have told me, #3 Edwards is one of the best officials in the game and deserves to finally get a SB.

  33. Zebra hater
    January 19, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Vinovich is on New England payroll

  34. Zebra hater
    January 19, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Vinovich should be on New England salary cap !

  35. Kefa
    January 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Will this site have a list of games these refs have done with these teams…..after we know which two are chosen?

    January 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Holybit you are correct. No official has every Made a call for against a team they make the call based on the play . All players and teams are treated equally .

  37. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Vinovich in Denver Hochuli in Carolina

  38. John
    January 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Four more to go Lorenzo. Do your job. It’s not sinking in yet. Which guy will ref the afc game again?

  39. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Vinovich is in Denver on Sunday

  40. Craig Roberson
    January 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Does Charlotte really need “N.C.” after it? SMH

  41. Doug
    January 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Lorenzo…who do you think will Ref the AFC game?

  42. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Bill Vinovich

  43. Publeus
    January 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Game: NFC Championship, Arizona at Carolina
    Referee: Bill Vinovich
    Umpire: Dan Ferrell

  44. January 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Hey official not official in playoffs

  45. JW
    January 19, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    “His Crew refused to call holding, with GB mugging Calais Campbell on every play Saturday night.” – That’s the way they call the playoffs, for whatever reason. It drives me crazy. All year long the NFL tries to emphasize that’s it’s illegal to hold past five yards, and then it disappears. The result is that good offenses in the regular season become bad ones in the playoffs and it turns everything upside down.

  46. John
    January 19, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    So Lorenzo Antonio, who’ll be the ref in the AFC Championship Game?

  47. Ben Austro
    Ben Austro
    January 19, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Sorry, Lorenzo. Here, have a cookie

  48. Todd
    January 19, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    who will be working on Vinovich’s crew?

  49. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Ed Muscle Man Hochuli aka Hulk

  50. January 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Come on Lorenzo man up and admit you were wrong, LOL……

  51. John
    January 19, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Lorenzo be like “nailed it”

    Good job will powering it thru boss.

  52. Leroy Kelly
    January 19, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Since all of Hochuli’s crew work last week and he has this assignment, we know who the league thought their best overall crew was. Hochuli – #1.

    Its been reported by the Denver Post that Terry Mcaulay will be selling hot dogs in Sections 211-215 on Sunday. I think that’s great and I’m sure he’ll do a great job.

  53. Jerome
    January 19, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Ed needs to retire, now that he got his son in (undeserved as it is). CC game is a good one after which to retire.

  54. Bailey Slusher
    January 19, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Where is Gene??

  55. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I think this is how the AFC Championship Crews will look like
    R Ed Hochuli
    U Undrey Wash
    HL Greg Bradley
    LJ Carl Johnson
    FJ Jimmy Buchannahan
    SJ Keith Washington
    BJ Terrence Miles

  56. Wow
    January 19, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Leroy, your comments are tired.

  57. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 19, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Where is the crews for both games?

  58. C.J.
    January 19, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Lorenzo: I don’t think Terrence Miles will work the AFC title game just to avoid the fact that he lives and works in Denver.

  59. Todd S.
    January 20, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Cardinals fan here, is Vinovich fair and balanced or what? Not too familiar with him.

  60. Kefa
    January 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    EH is 7-0 for the Bronco and 3-4 for the Patriots and known as “Uncle Ed” in Denver…seems like a long day for the Patriots come Sunday….also with all the comments by the Bronco players seems they are playing the refs real good.

  61. JGeezy
    January 20, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Full crews not released yet?

  62. Lisa Hattenburg
    January 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    The refs have to play fair, They just can’t take one side..But it wouldn’t surprise me if the Denver Broncos pay him so they can win over the patriots. We now have all our good players back,so I think this game will be different than the last game we played Denver.
    We will have to play hard for the whole 60 minutes.
    Go patriots, Do your job!

  63. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I agree with you on that Lisa the refs for Sunday game have to be fair and we want Ed Hochuli to be fair and accurate with the calls he makes and I also agree with the fact that our Patriots are a different team heading into Sunday’s game against the Broncos and I think our Patriots are going to Win the Game with our dynamic Offense

    January 20, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Official never take sides

  65. Wade
    January 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I’m glad to see Ed Hochuli in one of the CC games. The idiots in my section in New Orleans BLAST the man, and I can’t do anything but shake my head. If they only knew what they don’t know, eh?

    Congrats to all the men working this weekend, and in SB50.

  66. Ryan
    January 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Mark Hittner will be the HL Sunday in Denver. Reunited with Hochuli.

  67. Lorenzo Antonio
    January 20, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Who’s the full crew of the AFC Championship Game

  68. Andy
    January 21, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Maybe, there’s a reason Hochuli gets a game every year. Officials aren’t supposed to please the fans or not throw flags because they have met the “quota”. Fouls aren’t supposed to equal. I don’t care how many penalties there are as long as they are called correctly. The officials that get bashed the most here call the best games, they are good for a reason!

  69. Al
    January 21, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Hey Leroy,
    Love your comment on #77. The only issue I have is if he is selling Hot Dogs in the stands, He’ll still find a way to get the spotlight on himself! It’s not about the game with him, it’s all about HIM! I’m sure he threw someone else under the bus after the Giant game, that’s HIS style. No one wants to work with him on the crew which indicates what a bad leader he really is.

  70. Wade
    January 21, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Al…just curious. Did you speak to each crew member? Interview them at any time since assignments were given out? Do you have any relationship with any of the officials? Or, are you simply blabbering about your prejudices toward the man? It’s a rhetorical question, but perhaps you get the point? Again…rhetorical.

  71. T-Max
    January 21, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Andy. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you.

  72. Al
    January 27, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Wade, I actually did speak to someone in the ‘know’ and know for sure he threw his crewmate under the bus! Fact not fiction!

  73. Wade
    January 27, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Al….perhaps I need to define “rhetorical” at this point? Still sounds like hearsay, TBTH.

  74. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Think what you want to think. I know what I know.

  75. Wade
    January 28, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Al…”rhetorical”, in relation to asking questions, means “asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.”

    Regardless, it’s interesting that you “know what you know”, yet the league administrators of officiating are in the dark. Hmmm…..

    Have fun with your useless “information”.

  76. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Wade you obviously know nothing about the politics of officiating. Having fun with those who know nothing about officiating is FUN. If you don’t care for my comments then just don’t bother to read them, which is fine by me.

  77. Wade
    January 28, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Al…you crack me up!! I think it’s funny that “Random Al” on the Internet is more connected to “what’s happening in NFL officiating politics” than those in NFL Officiating leadership. Thou doth take thyself too seriously. My 27 years of officiating, from rec leagues to D1, have FULLY enlightened me about politics of officiating. Don’t presume to know what you don’t know. Also, be careful about the hearsay you repeat. No one likes a blowhard that repeats what was told to him/her, likely in confidence, on a public forum. Maybe it’s not me that doesn’t understand officiating politics?? I can only imagine what locker rooms sound like when you’re in there…gossip, gossip, gossip, eh? I prefer “Hello”, “let’s do a pre-game”, “time for post-game”, and “you guys travel home safely.” The End!

  78. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Wade stick to rec league that appear to be your level of competence! THE END!

  79. Anon
    January 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Al, there’s this thing called having respect for your fellow man. You should try it sometime.

  80. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Anon how are you doing, nice to hear from another country. I do respect others and give respect to those who give me respect. I have an opinion and have stated it hear pretty clearly. Others can disagree and that is fine and we can go back and forth on it. By doing so is not disrespectful it’s just my 2 cents, take it or leave it. My two cent is Big Ed, Vinny, Tony S, Anderson, Blakemen, Corrente, and Morrelli are all good R’s and deserve what they get in spite of some of the comments here. I personally do not think mcaluay is very good for the reasons I have stated. Like it or not that is what I think. You have yourself a good day and enjoy the SB. Looks like 7 VG officials will be working that game.

  81. Anon
    January 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Al, I’ll agree with you that the refs that you listed are good, and in most cases, they are really good.

    What I’ll ask you now is that if McAulay is not a good ref (which is certainly a valid opinion), then how come he’s got the best career body of work for a white hat in the last 10+ years (the 3 Super Bowls and 6 Conference Title games)? If you can give me your answer without insulting anyone’s character, I’ll take your response seriously.

  82. Wade
    January 28, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks, Al. You showed your true colors on that comment. I find, quite often, that ad hominem becomes the friend of those who can’t reinforce their argument. Thanks, again, for proving that I’m correct in thinking that way. Something tells me that you’re probably ONLY a recreation-level official, and most likely one of those guys who shows how “smart” he is from behind a keyboard, but is a church-mouse in public. I’ll work all levels of ball that interest me, thank you! I’ve reached the mountain top, did it on my terms, and left on my terms. Sadly, I think posting on websites about “information I have” is about the limit of your officiating prowess. C’est la vie. Thanks, for recognizing Al’s sophomoric behavior, Anon….sadly, he probably thinks he’s “important” for being able to spread an unsubstantiated rumor that someone told him (that makes it 3rd hand information at best).

  83. Wade
    January 28, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Pick your best sport, Al. Take me through a typical pre-game that YOU conduct.

  84. Wade
    January 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Anon…great comments about TM. I’d happily sit and keep my mouth shut, to learn about my craft from any of the fine officials who’ve made it to the NFL, MLB or NBA. They are the best for a reason. Their longevity in their respective leagues is all the credentials I’ll ever need. Any yahoo can sit on the sideline and post negative comments about them online, which is proven in this…and every…forum on any given day.

  85. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    My pregame lasts about 3 hours and at ‘my’ level we pregame the night before not in the locker room! It includes game clips from the prior weeks game, rules review on various topics, mechanics review on every game situation that occurs and a scouting report on each team so we can be prepared for what each team may present. Open discussion on situations that may have been issues the week before and then TT provided by the supervisor of officials of our conference. We also discuss situations that may have occurred in other games and how we would handle those situation if they happen to us. All in all very detailed. My crew is ready to work the game at hand and not be surprised by anything that happens. Feel free to use this and pass on to your crew chief.

  86. Al
    January 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Anon – While some may think McAulay style is a good one I happen not to. My opinion is he over officiates the game and wants to be the show. Technically he is correct and I’m sure he grades out but I prefer the others I mentioned earlier because they allow the players to play and don’t inject themselves into the game. He wants the spotlight on himself and I’ve seen him push other officials out of the way to ensure he has the camera all to himself. His crew was NOT prepared to work the NY/Carolina game and he should have take the hit for it. I saw 3 fouls he missed including a high hit on the Carolina QB by a Giant defender leading with his head that sent Cam to the bench holding his shoulder. A great R would not have missed that call. Again, my 2 cents and you can agree or disagree, that is your choice.

  87. Wade
    January 29, 2016 at 8:51 am

    The more that Al blasts ANY official at a level higher than he purports to be working, the less credibility he has in this discussion. I’ve only worked at the D1 level in baseball, but I can assure you that I’ve NEVER heard one of those guys in my 10+ years of D1 ball disrespectfully blast a brother umpire in professional baseball. There’s a tangible respect we have for each other, and the jobs we do. With Al’s posted pre-game, we are to presume that he’s a crew chief at the collegiate level. If so, then I pity the crew. How can anyone garner respect for someone that is lurking on message boards to unfairly judge his fellow officials? No…I think my intuition is spot-on with this one. Al’s a casual fan of football and a formal fan of belittling other that are working at the highest level of American football. Many of my collegiate-level brethren in this fine avocation of football officiating have their opinions about others, no doubt. What separates them from just the average official is the TACT, PROFESSIONALISM and INTEGRITY to not make any public statement…or to lurk anonymously on message boards to criticize officials. I’ve got your number Al. You slipped royally with your previous comment of “A great R would not have missed that call.” Really? There’s a level of officiating that exists where someone possesses the level of perfection that you get from instant replay and frame-by-frame reviews? There’s a level of officiating where every UNBIASED referee in any given league uses the perfect degree of judgment, has a perfect position on every play? Show me that official, and I’ll show you God in a zebra-striped-shirt. While definitely “your opinion,” as you frequently remind us, I suggest that your viewpoint is a bit skewed. You’re no friend of officiating, and certainly no crew chief at the collegiate level. Leadership is best exemplified when done by example. You’re setting precedents for the worst example possible. Again, my 2 cents and you can agree or disagree, that is your choice [sic]. You can have the last word….

  88. Al
    January 30, 2016 at 10:10 am

    200+ Division 1 games, 11 post-season assignments, all as a Crew Chief gives me the ability to view and critique others, especially when THEY hold themselves up to the PERFECT. If you don’t like what I have to say check out what the head of the NFL officials union had to say about the crew and what an ESPN expert-ex NFL official Jim Daoplulos had to say regarding the crews performance. The crew chief has to take responsibility for getting the crew ready to work and then take charge when the situation calls for it. McAualy did neither in the Giant/Panther game but still was awarded with a playoff game. Strange how he dodged he bullet but the rest of the crew didn’t. I know you are protecting one of your own from La. but there are others in the league who are BETTER CREW CHIEFS, better officials and better People. My 2 cents! Good bye and Good Luck with your baseball season.

  89. Wade
    January 30, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Lend credibility to your criticism, Al. Identify yourself. Step up!!

  90. Al
    January 30, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    OK Wade just for you I will reveal myself. I am……. Al Bundy and I scored 4 TD’s for Polk High! LOL. Ok Wade your turn!

  91. Wade
    January 30, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    That is exactly the answer that I thought a coward, who hides in anonymity of a message board, would produce. Thanks for filling my expectations.

  92. Al
    January 30, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Enjoy the SB and watch a good referee work!

  93. Wade
    January 30, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I watch excellent officials work in every NFL game!