Controlling The Chaos

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Photo By: Andrew Jason

Bison football games are known for their intensity. Hard hitting defenses and explosive offensive weapons can be hard to keep up with every Saturday. But for Missouri Valley Football Conference officials, it’s their job to keep up with these college athletes stride for stride. Who are these guys and where do they come from? These are just a few questions we tried to find the answer to when we spoke with Big Ten and Missouri Valley Football Conference Officiating Coordinator Bill Carollo.

What qualifications and credentials are needed to be an official in the Missouri Valley Football Conference?
“Generally, potential football officials entering into the MVFC will have a minimum three to five years of high school experience and a similar number of years of college experience at the DIII or DII level.”


Do the individual officials work together as a “crew” for the entire year or are they assigned to work with different individuals each week?

What is the age range of the officials you have on your staff and what are some of the jobs they work when it’s not football season?
“We do not keep an official’s age, as it is not a criteria used. My guess might be our officials range from their early 30s to early 60s. Officials’ occupations vary in all industries and professions, including teachers to doctors. All must have some flexibility in their jobs to be available for games schedule. Usually that is on Saturdays.”

Do some of your football officials work other college sports as well? If yes, what sports?
“Yes, many work a variety of other sports such as basketball, baseball and now some lacrosse.”

Do officials in the MVFC work college games in other conferences?
“If you are eligible and selected to work in the MVFC, you may work Pioneer League games, MAC or Big Ten games.”

Do the officials normally drive to Fargo or fly and when are they required to arrive?
“Both, but many times it will be a combination of both driving and flying.”

What is the pay scale for MVFC officials?
“The pay scale will vary from each conference and it is a flat fee for all the officials. The MVFC will pay $800 – $1,000 per game depending on your responsibility.”

How are your officials reviewed for their performance?
“Each play of every game is evaluated and graded for all calls made, not made, mechanics, rules knowledge and professionalism.”

How does the league handle complaints about an official regarding his performance?
“Coaches have the opportunity to submit plays that may be in question and a response will follow with a final assessment for the legality of the plays in question.”

We are aware the FargoDome can get a little loud at times. Is noise ever an issue for officiating crews?
“It can be at times but it is usually a greater distraction for the visiting team.”

How are officials chosen to work playoff games?
“Performance from all the games worked in that season.”

In general, how do you think most officials feel about the use of instant replay?
“Officials embrace replay and it is probably the most significant rule change in football in the last 50 years.”

You were an official for 20 years in the NFL; what are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the game since 1989? Both in college or in the NFL.
“Player-safety awareness and rule changes around the health and safety of players has been significant and been the reason many rules get changed.”

Would you say it’s easier or harder than being an official 30 years ago? Why?
“Officials are better trained today than when I officiated and the game is much harder to work. The pressure today on officials makes it a very difficult job. With the growing fan interest, TV exposure and the dollars involved in college football, the bar has been raised to be ‘perfect’ on every call as officials, and we all know that is not possible to be perfect.We are human and mistakes will be made but hopefully with the proper training and the introduction of technology (replay) officials will be in the background doing their job and nobody will notice who were the officials in the game.”

Controlling The Chaos
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Published eight times a year, Bison Illustrated provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Bison community in order to help promote the university’s players, coaches, alumni, supporters, staff and fans.


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