Football Zebras
2017 Postseason2017 Conference ChampionshipsClete Blakeman and Ed Hochuli will officiate Conference Championships

Clete Blakeman and Ed Hochuli will officiate Conference Championships

Football Zebras has confirmed that Clete Blakeman will lead the crew for the AFC Championship game and Ed Hochuli will be the referee in the NFC Championship.

In an interesting development, several officials have received their second on-field playoff assignment for this season. Traditionally, those officials who receive two playoff assignments are the Super Bowl officials, who also work a Divisional playoff. However, in this case, these assignments are the first doubles in a single season, without a Super Bowl assignment, since 2004. There was some indication that the procedures were going to be altered slightly this year, as more than 20 officials will not get any assignment this postseason.

Officials are eligible for the Conference Championships in their third NFL season, provided that they also have an assignment in a playoff game in a previous year. Two officials, Aaron Santi and Shawn Smith, are in their third season, with two more in their fourth season.

Three alternates are assigned to each game: generally, one is designated for the offensive backfield (a referee or umpire), one is on the line of scrimmage (down judge or line judge), and one is a deep position (side judge, field judge, or back judge). When alternates are listed, their position during the regular season is also given. The prior playoff experience that is listed for the crew chief includes his service as an NFL official, including as referee and any other crew position (excluding alternate assignments). 

All times are Eastern.

Sunday, January 21

AFC Championship Game, Jaguars at Patriots, 3:05 p.m. CBS

Embed from Getty Images

Clete Blakeman is the referee, who is in his 10th season and 8th as referee. This is Blakeman’s 7th postseason assignment and his first conference championship; he also has worked 3 Wild Card Playoffs, 2 Divisional Playoffs, and Super Bowl 50, his most recent playoff assignment.

Before becoming an official, Blakeman was a second-string quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1984 to 1987. He started a handful of games, most notably a 70-0 shutout of the Kansas Jayhawks in 1986.

Blakeman, 53, came to the NFL from the Big 12 Conference in 2008. After a couple of seasons at field judge, he was promoted to referee in 2010. His career has been relatively clean of controversy, although Patriots fans will be quick to point to his crew’s role in 2013 as a pass interference flag in the end zone was picked up. The umpire and the back judge determined in a conference that there was no foul, prior to Blakeman joining the huddle, although his position on the field would not have given him any perspective to influence the decision.

Blakeman is a personal-injury attorney in Omaha, where he lives with his wife and two children.

      Yrs 2017 crew College Occupation
R 34 Clete Blakeman 10   Nebraska attorney
U 11 Fred Bryan 9 Allen Northern Iowa superintendent, juvenile correctional facility
DJ 28 Mark Hittner 21 Wrolstad Pittsburg State investment broker
LJ 79 Kent Payne 14 Cheffers Nebraska Wesleyan teacher
FJ 50 Aaron Santi 3 Torbert Southern Oregon middle school principal
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 11 Blakeman Johnson C Smith manager, law firm
BJ 112 Tony Steratore 18 Boger California (Pa.) co-owner, supply company
  • Replay: Carl Madsen
  • Alternates: John Parry (R), Patrick Turner (DJ), Greg Gautreaux (FJ)

NFC Championship Game, Vikings at Eagles, 6:40 p.m. FOX

Embed from Getty Images

Ed Hochuli is the referee, who is in his 27th season and 25th as referee. This is Hochuli’s 26th postseason assignment, the most of any active official, which include 11 Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, 9 Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXII and XXXVIII.

Hochuli, 67, worked his last playoff assignment in the Wild Card Playoff between the Falcons and Rams on Jan. 6. Along with other officials this year, he is working more than one game, and he is the first referee since Walt Anderson and Bill Carollo in 2004 to have multiple non-Super Bowl assignments in a postseason.

He ties Terry McAulay and Mark Hittner (working in the Jaguars-Patriots game) with 11 assignments to title games, combining conference championships and Super Bowls, as the most among active officials.

Hochuli lives in San Diego and is a founding partner of the Arizona-based law firm Jones, Skelton & Hochuli.

      Yrs 2017 crew College Occupation
R 85 Ed Hochuli 28   Texas-El Paso attorney
U 14 Shawn Smith 3 Hochuli Ferris State internal auditor
DJ 48 Jim Mello 14 Allen Northeastern facilities manager
LJ 59 Rusty Baynes 8 Hochuli Auburn-Montgomery general manager, safety services*
FJ 103 Eugene Hall 4 Boger North Texas federal agent
SJ 88 Brad Freeman 4 Cheffers Mississippi State sports park director
BJ 30 Todd Prukop 9 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton medical sales representative

*indicates full-time official

  • Replay: Tom Sifferman
  • Alternates: Carl Cheffers (R), Carl Johnson (LJ), James Coleman (SJ)
Cameron Filipe
Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a freshman at the University of New Haven, majoring in forensic science. He has been involved in football officiating for five years and currently works as a flag football and soccer official in college. This is his second season covering officiating as a staff writer for Football Zebras.

29 thoughts on “Clete Blakeman and Ed Hochuli will officiate Conference Championships

  1. Ed got two games this year. Must be the new chief of officiating changing the rules
    I see Walt Anderson didn’t get a playoff game this year, but Jeff Triplet got a game.

  2. WRONG INFO POSTED. 2004 OFFICIALS GOT 1st ROUND AND SEMIFINAL GAMES. ANDERSON CREW AND PART OF CAROLLO CREWS.

    GET FACTS CORRECT!!!!!

  3. Maybe Hochuli graded out #2 this year and will retire so the league did a good thing by giving him 2 games, setting a future precedent for using the really good ones more than once in the playoffs other than the Super Bowl.On the other hand maybe he graded out so high as #1 he will get 3 games with the Super Bowl in 2 weeks.

  4. Corrected. We, as many others, were not expecting that. Did a quick sweep and missed the 2004 assignments

  5. Lee what up with all capital letters bull crap
    Okay I missed the 2004 playoffs that was 14 yrs ago we are all human
    Over the course of the last 14 yrs it is doesnt happen very often

  6. Look at Hochuli’s crew. 5 of the 7 with less than 10 years in the league although 2 of them have worked the Super Bowl. I think this assignment shows how much the league trusts and respects him. I doubt they would let another white hat work with a crew with so little experience. His wild card crew last year had 3 officials working their first playoff game and 1 other working their 2nd playoff game.

  7. I agree I am not taking anything away from the guy I enjoy watching him referee games
    My comment was not meant to be disrespectful
    He commands a game and commands respect from players
    He is a top official
    I just was surprised to see a wild card referee get another game usually it doesnt happen
    I am surprised Walt Anderson didn’t get a game this yr I thought he was a good referee but I could be wrong

  8. All these less experienced guys and U121 King, who had another solid year, didn’t get an assignment?

  9. King worked with Ron Torrey and before that Vinovich.
    Maybe a Super Bowl assignment. Things have changed.

  10. What i think this means os the format for selecting officals is changing under the new leaders. We may not see a divisional official get the Super Bowl assignment as in recent years.

  11. I bet Walt A. gets a gig before we are done. Alternate or Pro Bowl? Too good a ref to be passed over.

  12. SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT WHEN PAUL KING HAS ANOTHER SOLID YEAR AND DOESN’T GET AN ASSIGNMENT, BUT TORBERT DOES, AS DOES SARAH THOMAS, BOTH OF WHOM WORK WITH KING.

  13. Walt Anderson got the Pro-Bowl a meaniless game for a really good referee. It will be interesting to see who gets the Superbowl. Cant wait to see that reporting

  14. How in the world does Jeff Triplette get a playoff game and guys like Terry McAulay and Walt Anderson do not?

  15. Keeping my fingers crossed for Gene in the Super Bowl, had a very clean game in Minny!! Wonder if he will do a Big 10 game on Super Sunday first!!LOL Just keep the index cards in the hotel room Gene!!

  16. Good group of officials working Championship games this upcoming weekend. SUPER BOWL referee possibly may not have worked a game yet? Seems things have changed a little bit this year as far as playoffs go. My money is on VINOVICH. I think he graded out at the top again. Keep all your comments coming and guesses. I love to read all of them.

  17. Interesting patterns — 10 of the 14 on-field conference championship officials worked in the wild card round. (2 others were alternates in the divisional round; 2 others were alternates in the wild card round.) A new precedent maybe — just like SB officials come from the divisional round, most conference championship officials come from the wild card round?

    R 34 Clete Blakeman CC, DValt
    R 85 Ed Hochuli CC, WC
    U 11 Fred Bryan CC, WC
    U 14 Shawn Smith CC, WC
    DJ 28 Mark Hittner CC, WC
    DJ 48 Jim Mello CC, DValt
    LJ 59 Rusty Baynes CC, WC
    LJ 79 Kent Payne CC, WC
    FJ 103 Eugene Hall CC, WC
    FJ 50 Aaron Santi CC, WC
    SJ 88 Brad Freeman CC, WC
    SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau CC, WC
    BJ 30 Todd Prukop CC, WCalt
    BJ 112 Tony Steratore CC, WCalt

  18. Ed Hochuli should never be allowed to officiate any game that includes the Minnesota Vikings with his obvious bias against them. The Eagles were allowed to hold, push players in the back and interfere with impunity. Stay in the south Ed, we need quality qualified unbiased officiating.

Post a comment using Wordpress.com, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ account:

Top