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Pigskin Professor

Longtime master of football rules leaves one NCAA role, keeps another

A retired physics professor and provost, Rogers Redding has been national coordinator of officials for football since 2011. Marcia Stubbeman / NCAA

Rogers Redding’s name has long been synonymous with college football officiating. He has held the two biggest jobs in the field — NCAA secretary-rules editor and national coordinator of officials — and refereed two bowl games that produced national champions.

Yet officiating was Redding’s second career, and his first — as a physics professor with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Georgia Tech and a doctorate in the same specialty from Vanderbilt — was an unusual launchpad. Once he began calling pee wee football and other youth levels at age 31, though, he was hooked.

Term limits ended his time as NCAA secretary-rules editor for football in September, but he remains the national coordinator of officials. “I’m glad that I’m staying on in this role,” says Redding, 75. “Who would have ever thought when I started working junior high games that I would be the national coordinator of officials for college football?”

Champion magazine: How did you get involved in football officiating?

Redding: I was a faculty member at the University of North Texas, and a couple of guys on the faculty asked if I would be interested in officiating football games. They both worked high school games in the Denton, Texas, area. I had never thought about it before. It just went from there.

CM: How long did it take to discover you loved being a football official?

Redding: I liked it right away. I was a young man with a young family. My kids would go to games with me. It was a nice change from my real life of being a university professor. It got me in contact with people that I would not have known if I had not started officiating.

CM: You started out refereeing youth football and high school games in Texas. How did you begin your college officiating career?

Redding: I got my big break in 1985 when I started working in the Lone Star Conference, which is a Division II conference with teams in Texas and Oklahoma. I worked games in that conference for three years, then applied to become an official in the old Southwest Conference, which was one of the precursors to the Big 12 Conference. I started working in the Southeastern Conference in 1993 after I became the dean of arts and sciences at Northern Kentucky University.

CM: You retired from on-the-field officiating after the 2003 season and took the job as the high-profile SEC coordinator of officials. What was that like?

Redding: It was a hard and a stressful job. I remember my first league meeting with the coaches, and there were five of them around the table who had won national championships. It was a pretty intimidating group. But they were great to me. I loved the job even though it could be stressful.

CM: You became the secretary-rules editor for football in 2008 and national coordinator of officials in 2011. Did your academic career help you transition into the administrative side?

Redding: Having been a dean and a provost, my job was to evaluate administrators and faculty. When you evaluate officials, you set expectations, and you have things that they need to do. If they don’t measure up, you have to discipline them. Leadership is leadership, whatever field you are in. There are a lot of things that translate to the academic side or business side when you are supervising employees.

CM: What are your thoughts about having picked up a second career?

Redding: “I’ve lived the dream. This has been a great second career. Not many people have an avocation that they love turn into a full-time job after they get out of their other life. I’ve been blessed.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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