Football Zebras
College FootballThrowback to 1969 when Jerry Markbreit worked the Ohio State-Michigan Game

Throwback to 1969 when Jerry Markbreit worked the Ohio State-Michigan Game

Michigan and The Ohio State University face yet again this Saturday with playoff and conference championship implications.

Let’s throw it back to 1969, when future NFL official, Jerry Markbreit, officiated the annual rivalry between the two power houses. Ohio State was unbeaten and ranked number one in the nation. Michigan had two losses and was looking to play spoiler under new coach Bo Schembechler.

Markbreit joined the Big Ten Conference in 1965 as a back judge. He worked his first game as a referee in the Big Ten in 1967, and was a full time referee for the conference in 1968, so the Big Ten showed confidence in Markbreit when they assigned the young referee to the Michigan-Ohio State tilt.

On that day in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines upset the number one Buckeyes 24-12. Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes, said that loss was one of the toughest ones in his tenure at Ohio State.

The following footage is from that game. It is the oldest TV footage I can find of Markbreit as a referee. There is footage of Markbreit working as a back judge in the 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State game with Howard Wirtz as the referee.

While Markbreit refined his signals and style over the years, you can see the fundamentals of what made him an outstanding referee in college and in the NFL.

A few historical notes: referees did not yet have a microphone to announce penalties and signaled to both sides of the stadium. Also, what’s up with the choice of the white and red penalty flags?

Here’s Markbreit in action 52 years ago.

Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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