MAR 11


A profound loss in the officiating community: former TASO Executive Director. national replay director and WAC/Southland conference supervisor Jim Blackwood has passed away.

Jim Blackwood, a longtime college coordinator of officials and one of the innovators of the use of replay in college football, has died at the age of 81 after a brief illness.

A giant in the officiating world and a mentor to many officials, Blackwood was most recently the national replay director, a position established by College Football Officiating which he was the first to hold. CFO is an umbrella entity created in 2008 to coordinate officiating at the FBS and FCS level with support for Divisions II and III and is independent of the NCAA. He retired after the 2017 season.

“Friendship is one of the most important things we have in life,” said Bill Carollo, coordinator of Big Ten football officiating and the College Officiating Consortium. “We lost a great friend who has dedicated his life to his family and football.  Jim invested over 50 years in making the game of football better.”

Blackwood served as a conference head of officiating for 25 years at the Division I level, including 14 years in the Western Athletic Conference and 11 in the Southland Conference. He succeeded Tony Corrente as the interim officiating supervisor of the Pac‑12 Conference in 2014, where he served as the replay coordinator. He received the Dave Parry Award in 2013, which recognizes officiating coordinators at all levels — FBS through Division III — who have made a significant contribution through education and training officials and a lifetime dedication to the improvement of officiating. The award is presented by the CFO and named in memory of the Big Ten and national coordinator and NFL official.

Blackwood also worked in the NFL as a replay official when the league reinstated replay reviews under the current challenge system. Dean Blandino, who would rise to the senior vice president of officiating in the NFL, worked in the formative years of replay operations. He shared that, while others bristled at the fact that a junior staffer was telling them what to do, Blackwood was receptive.

Blandino is now the CFO national replay director, succeeding Blackwood.

Blackwood was one of the early proponents of incorporating replay in college football, although the WAC was delayed in their implementation for two years because not all conference games were televised. After the conference withdrew from football in 2012, he joined the Pac‑12 and became the preeminent voice particularly on replay mechanics.

“Jim was instrumental in my development in officiating as he was for countless others,” Blandino said. “I can’t think of another person who was as universally respected, and even more importantly loved, within the officiating community as Jim. He was a legend within the officiating community, but an even better person. I’ll miss him dearly.”

Matt Sumstine, a former WAC official and current NFL replay official, shared fond memories of Blackwood, and underscored Blackwood’s ability to mentor.

Carollo, who was a referee in the NFL the same time Blackwood was a replay official, also saw the impact he had on developing officials. “Jim was a selfless individual and his integrity was beyond reproach,” he said. “We will miss the officiating icon that Jim was but we will never forget the impact he has made on the thousands of officials he trained and mentored.”

He adds, “As an NCAA official, a Division I coordinator, an NFL replay official, our first ever CFO national replay director, and the recipient of the David Parry Award, he clearly has done it all. It is not an overstatement that Jim did it for the good of the game and never for himself.”

Raised in North Little Rock, Ark., Blackwood graduated Ouachita Baptist University in 1961 with a degree in mathematics. He was a referee in the Southland Conference for 14 years before becoming the conference’s coordinator in 1989. In 1999, he became the officiating coordinator in the WAC, after Mike Pereira left that position to join the NFL. He also worked concurrently as an NFL replay official from 1999 to 2008. The WAC withdrew from football after the 2011 season, and he joined the Pac‑12 as its replay supervisor shortly after that. He was the national director of replay in the CFO from 2016 through 2017. He resided in the Dallas‑Fort Worth area, and is survived by his wife, Deanna.

Source: Football Zebras