Becoming a College Football Official Steve Furniss Coordinator of Football Officials Ohio Athletic Conference Preparing to apply Preparing to officiate college football is like preparing for a long awaited job interview. You have been working your way through pee wee, freshman and onto JV games. Now you have a good high school schedule and believe you are ready. Where do you go and what do you do? Where do you apply for a license? When do you get a schedule? Preparing to apply Unlike high school, there is not an application procedure to the NCAA and no license to officiate college football. Tests and quizzes are developed by the CFO and conference coordinators and distributed and discussed in local study groups. There are no meeting requirements, however, meetings are the best source for you to learn the game. Not only is a thorough understanding of the rules and mechanics required, but also an excellent understanding of “phylosophies” is critical to your success on the field. Preparing to apply Unlike high school, college football officiating has a limited staff size. It is based on the number of schools and games played each week. Consider this DIII conference – There are 10 teams The season is 10 weeks long with 5 games each week = 50 assignments. If the coordinator assigns 5 crews for the season, each crew will work 10 games and will see the same team at least 3 - 4 times during the year. This conference uses 6 crews – this means the average number of games assigned to a crew is 7 games during the season and hopefully officials will only see the same team 2 – 3 times per year. Preparing to apply Openings for new officials occur when current staff leaves Advancement to a higher level Retirement An official is dropped or leaves on their own. Unlike DI, which is moving toward regionalized staff, lower divisions (DII and DIII) are still conference specific, meaning you only work for that conference. However, coordinators may share staff when situations arise. What should you do? Attend a local rules study group to learn the rules, mechanics, and trends of the college game. Find out who is assigning the college JV games in your area and work as often as possible. Ask current or retired college officials to observe your work and give you advice on how to improve. Be prepared for critical comments. Attend officiating camps and clinics that are available all around the country. Many of these include on-field work. What should you do? Consider working multiple positions. Seldom is a high school official hired to work as a Referee. There are infrequent openings at Umpire. If you are a L or LJ, then be prepared to do both. This position is considered LOS by most coordiantors and you should be prepared to work both positions. BJ’s would be the same…you are a Deep official. These candidates should have great speed, excellent movement on the field, including support into the side zones. What should you do? If you are not already, get yourself physically fit. The college game is as much about appearance and movement as it is knowing the application of the rules. When you feel you are ready, consider applying to multiple conferences.You never know who will have an opening. Once you have made application to a conference(s), don’t wait around for a call. It may take several tries. Concentrate on becoming a better official. What should you do? When applying to a conference, be prepared to provide the following: Your most recent high school schedule. A video of you on the field (clips are fine) is helpful. References from current or retired college. A list of officiating camps that you have or will be attending with a copy of the on-field evaluation. What should you do? As the season progresses, keep the coordinator(s) of the conference(s) you have applied to informed of playoff and college JV assignments. If you get picked up by a conference, make sure to notify all of the other conferences you have applied to. Check your e-mail frequently and answer your phone (including voicemails) when contacted by a coordinator. A delay in responding shows a coordinator a lack of responsiveness and frequently they have to move on quickly to handle an assignment. What should you do? Continue working at improving your game. Get game film of yourself and evaluate your work with a critical eye. Find out from your local study group who is assigned to work a college game in your area. Contact that crew chief and see if you can attend with them, sit in on their pregame, watch the game from the side line, and listen to the postgame comments by the evaluator. Enjoy your success so far…and be ready on short notice to take an assignment.