Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, provides insights about rules changes and the mindset of college football referees. The CFO is the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level.

Fans and the media often ask what a typical game weekend is like for college football officials.  Many people have the impression that the seven guys in striped shirts meet at the stadium just before kickoff, shake hands with each other, and take the field to officiate the game.  In reality, of course, there is a considerable amount of planning and preparation.  In this column, we take a brief look at how the officials get ready for a Saturday game.

The crew arrives at the game city on Friday evening.  They will usually join the coordinator of officials of their conference at the hotel for dinner and an evening film session.  Part of their preparation is to review a video of the game they worked the previous week to discuss play situations and any problems or special plays that need particular attention.  In addition, they may view the latest training video from the national coordinator’s office, which covers play situations from very recent games around the country.  For all of them, officiating is an avocation unrelated to their jobs during the week, so the night before the game is spent clearing their minds of everything besides the game the next day.

On game day, the crew gathers in a hotel meeting room about five hours before kickoff for their pregame conference.  This is a mandatory meeting that involves all of the game officials, plus the Instant Replay Officials if the game is to be televised.  For more than two hours they will discuss all phases of a game, reviewing positions, keys, rules, play situations, as well as look at the training video that their conference may have produced.  Depending on local circumstances, they will either dress into their uniforms at the hotel and take police-escorted vehicles to the stadium, or they will drive to the stadium and dress on site.

Finally, about an hour and a half before kickoff, the Referee and Umpire will meet with each individual head coach in his locker room to review any special situations for that day’s game.  The entire crew then takes the field and soon the game is underway.

After the game the crew meets with the conference observer who has been in the press box to give them immediate feedback and suggestions for particular plays to review the next week.   And then they head home, only to start it all over again the following week.