Football Zebras analysis
As we approach the beginning of the NFL officiating season (the NFL can communicate with officials starting in May), there’s widespread speculation about who will be the next senior vice president of officiating. The NFL posted the job description and is taking applicants. The position reports to Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of football operations.
While many people think they could run the department well, it takes a unique skill set.
Here are some potential candidates for senior vice president of officiating, with the warning that Football Zebras has no inside knowledge of the search from any of those listed below.
Alberto Riveron. Riveron has been in the front office since 2013 and has been Blandino’s assistant as the senior supervisor of officiating. He already spends time in New York so a big move is moot. He knows how the officiating command center works on game day and will have no issues with centralized replay. Does he have the public speaking presence and other skills needed to deal with the public week in and week out? If the NFL hires Riveron, he will hit the ground running.
Bill Vinovich. Vinovich has overcome much in his officiating career and certainly has nothing left to prove. He interviewed for the post in 2009 and spent time as an officiating observer and replay official before returning to the field. He calls California home. Will he want to move across the country? He has called a Super Bowl and has worked in the front office before. His candidacy makes sense.
Clete Blakeman. Blakeman worked Super Bowl 50 and generated quite a bit of buzz. He is an attorney and is an excellent public speaker. Blakeman reportedly interviewed for a front-office position in 2013. He has a successful law practice in Nebraska. Living in New York on a salary that has been characterized as “low for a senior vice-president of a multibillion-dollar enterprise” might make this a lateral move at best. But, does he want a new challenge? Does he want to work 10-15 years in the NFL front office?
Walt Anderson. He is supervisor of officials in the Big 12 conference, so he knows how to rate, train and recruit talent. He owned his own dental practice before selling it to concentrate on his Big 12 and NFL duties. Like Vinovich, the NFL referee has interviewed for the post in the past. When they rebooted the hiring process in 2010, Anderson was reportedly passed over due to salary; Anderson did not want to make less than his combined salaries for referee and Big 12 coordinator. While the league can’t make an employment decision based on age alone (see: Dreith, Ben), the NFL might want their next vice president to put in more years than Anderson is willing to give.
Bill Carollo. The former NFL referee and executive at IBM and the staffing firm Manpower has enjoyed success as the director of the Midwest Football Officials Alliance (Big 10, MAC and Missouri Valley conference football officials). As a former vice president of a corporation, he has the right mix of officiating and business experience. He also has a great deal of respect from his former colleagues on the field, as well as the league’s upper echelon. Carollo lives in Wisconsin and college officiating in the Midwest is in an excellent place due in large part to his leadership. At his age, does he want to move and leave a successful job?
Tony Corrente. A current NFL referee, Corrente is a former supervisor of officials for the Pac-12. He may not want to commit to moving and to several years on the job. Also, he left his Pac-12 post with a bump, and that might be a mark against his candidacy.
Terry McAulay. McAulay is the supervisor of officials for the American Athletic Conference. He is a retired computer programmer. McAulay has had a successful officiating career, having worked three Super Bowls and many other playoff games. He is in his 50s, so he has the opportunity for a long tenure. If McAulay wants to come off the field and not challenge Jerry Markbreit’s record of four Super Bowl assignments at referee (and the record of five Super Bowl assignments held by five non-referees), this could be a good fit.
Wild card candidates
Again, this is just idle speculation. The NFL could surprise us with a candidate on nobody’s radar. Carl Johnson was certainly a surprise when the NFL hired him in 2010. Mike Pereira was promoted after two seasons on the field in the NFL.
The NFL will most likely name Blandino’s successor before he leaves at the end of May. But don’t be surprised if it takes until next offseason to hire the new chief zebra. Another possibility that has been floated is that Riveron might helm the officiating department on an interim basis, as the preparations for the 2017 season have already begun.
Ben Austro also contributed to this report.