Thursday, October 9, 2008

Making the Call.....WAC Officiating

There have been multiple comments/complaints regarding WAC officials lately. I recently spoke with Commissioner Benson and Jim Blackwood, Supervisor of Football Officials regarding our officials and the recent scrutiny they have received.

Fans disapproving of officials and their in-game calls are nothing new. This is an issue that all collegiate conferences face each year. I think it is important to bring to light the requirements that must be met and what officials must do to be retained for the following year.

In order to be considered for a WAC officiating crew the individual must have 10 years of officiating experience with at least five of those years working in collegiate athletics. Officials must attend a mandatory summer clinic (officials are also encouraged to participate in other clinics throughout the year), complete on off-season exam, and stay in top physical condition.

By Wednesday of each week during the regular season, WAC Supervisor of Football Officials Jim Blackwood has reviewed video tape of all football games played the previous weekend. Specifically, he reviews every penalty that is called during the game, along with other plays that WAC coaches submit for him to review. He determines whether each penalty called is correct or incorrect; and also determines whether there are plays where penalties should have been called. Each official is “graded” on his performance for each game and these grades are then used to determine post season (bowl game) assignments. For example, the highest graded official at each of the seven positions is then assigned to the bowl games where the WAC assigns the officials – usually two or three games each year. These grades are also used to determine whether an official is retained for the following season.

Also, it should be noted that each official receives a tape from his previous game and is required to view the tape and assess his own performance. Officials also attend sessions in and around their hometown during the week with officials to study video of other games. And finally, prior to each game – either the night before a day game or the morning before a night game – the officiating crew conducts a 3 hour meeting where the video of their previous game is viewed. This session is designed to review the previous game and to prepare the officials for the upcoming game. As you can see, an official may spend up to 12 hours a week reviewing his previous performance and preparing for the next game. Needless to say, these officials take their assignments very seriously and are very dedicated. Just like the players and coaches, they expect their performance on the field to be perfect each and every week.

No comments: