Gordon Riese is a former college baseball pitcher in the 1960s who was inducted into the Portland State University Hall of Fame in 1997. He has spent the last 28 years as a Pac-10 Conference football official. He was the line judge during the 1982 Stanford-California game when "The Play" helped California win, 25-20.
Riese later worked as a referee in the Pac-10 and was the head of the officiating crew that worked the first Bowl Championship Series championship game, the Fiesta Bowl between Florida State and Tennessee on January 4, 1999. His final game on the field came on January 1, 2005 at the Fiesta Bowl between Pitt and Utah.
In December 2004, Riese was the referee in a UCLA-USC game with officiating issues. Spencer Havner picked up a fumble near the end of the first half and appeared to be unabated to the end zone, but the fumble was called back because of an inadvertent whistle. USC kicked a field goal and went into the half up 20-10 instead of tied 17-17. The Trojans won 29-24 to cap an undefeated regular season and ended up beating Oklahoma 55-19 to win the BCS championship.
On September 16, 2006 Riese served as the instant replay official of the University of Oklahoma-University of Oregon football game in Eugene, Oregon. During the final minutes of the game two plays were sent to his booth. The first was an onside kick by Oregon with a little over a minute remaining. The ruling on the field was that Oregon had recovered the onside kick, but the play went to the booth for review for the purpose of evaluating whether Oregon had illegally touched the ball before it had traveled 10 yards. Those watching the game at home were given multiple angles of the play, and many agreed with the broadcast commentators that Oregon had done so, thereby giving possession to the University of Oklahoma.
However, due to either technical or human error, Mr. Riese was only give one camera angle, from the University of Oklahoma's endzone. From that awkward angle, Riese could not answer the question of when the ball was first touched or even who first touched it. Therefore the play on the field would stand.
While Mr. Riese could not answer that question from the endzone angle, he was able to determine that the University of Oregon did not actually recover the ball. Riese could see that Allen Patrick of Oklahoma had recovered it. Unfortunately, that was not the purpose of the review, and due to the restrictive nature of replay review rules, Mr. Riese was limited to providing information regarding the original scope of the review.
This ended up being a game-changing call. After Oregon was awarded the ball, they went on to score the touchdown, winning by one point 34-33.
Following this incident, Riese was suspended, along with the rest of the officiating crew, for one game. After the incident, he requested and was granted a leave of absence for the remainder of the season. He was later quoted as saying, "I feel so bad I missed that call, it's driving me crazy," and that he was "struggling" with his mistake. Riese claimed to have received death threats, and during an interview on September 18, 2006, he remarked that, "I can't sleep, I can't eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing."
- "Gordon Riese's replay revelation". NewsOK.com. 23 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
- "Stepping out of the limelight". ESPN. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-22.[dead link]
- "Oregon-Okla. call costs official his job". SI.com. 7 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-07.