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Dean Blandino is the VP of officiating for 2023 XFL

The XFL is slated to reboot the reboot in spring of 2023. They now have their head of officiating.

Dean Blandino, the former NFL senior vice president of officiating and Fox Sports rules analyst, will once again preside as the head of officiating in the XFL, as he did in their 2020 season. His title with the new incarnation is vice president of officiating and playing rules innovation.

Blandino was the voice for the XFL’s new rules videos in 2020 which emphasized a quicker pace of play. During the season, he oversaw the officiating staff and the grading with Steve Strimling as the coordinator of officials. Strimling is currently the USFL officiating coordinator. Upon the early termination of the XFL 2020 season, Blandino was listed as a creditor in the league’s initial bankruptcy filing.

Prior to that, Blandino was officially listed as a consultant to the Alliance of American Football in their shortened 2019 spring season. Mike Pereira, his Fox Sports cohort and also a former NFL officiating head, was the leader of the AAF operation, although he was also listed as a consultant, presumably at the behest of the network. Pereira is the head of officiating at the USFL.

Dean is a true leader in the industry and has a passion for advancing and enhancing the game of football,” said XFL co-owner and chairwoman Dany Garcia in a press release. “His experience and creativity is unmatched, and we firmly believe that he will elevate our league to a new level.”

Blandino will be working with the NFL on rules innovations that might see their debut in the XFL. The XFL recently announced that they are collaborating with the NFL on various aspects of football operations, including rules trials. Some of the NFL proposed rules tend to be tabled for future consideration to test them out in a limited number of exhibition games; now the XFL can be used as a rules laboratory.

In the news release, Blandino said, “From my time in the NFL through to the XFL, my focus has always been on bringing forward ideas and structure that can continue to support the game we love and allow it to grow into the future. Football is my passion and it’s an exciting time to be a part of the XFL as they build a dynamic game that will appeal to fans and players.”

“Dean has been the go-to name in professional and collegiate football officiating for over a decade,” said XFL president of league and football operations Russ Brandon said.

Blandino’s association has been rumored from some time, and two officiating sources stated that his involvement in the XFL did not go over well with his Fox bosses. Fox is the primary stakeholder in the USFL, which launches Saturday. If the USFL makes it to a second season — something that no major domestic spring league has done since the last USFL in 1983-85 — his tenure with the XFL will have direct competition with Fox.

He will also be competing with Pereira to establish his officiating staff.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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