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Rogers Redding, former SEC referee and national coordinator of officials, dies at 81

Redding was a leading voice in rules interpretation



Rogers Redding, former college football referee, supervisor and rules editor died April 7 at the age of 81.

Redding was a 30-year college football officiating veteran of the Southwest Conference and the Southeastern Conference. After retiring from the field, Redding was a replay official, supervisor of officials for the SEC, then rules editor and national coordinator of the CFO — the centralized officiating entity formed in 2007.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Redding received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in 1965 and later a master’s and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1969. He then served as a physics professor and was a college administrator in several different institutions in Texas, Kentucky and Colorado.

Redding started officiating in Texas, working high school games. He joined an officiating chapter in Dallas, where some of his colleagues worked college football. They took Redding under their collective wings and he was soon working college ball in the Southland Conference. His big break came in 1988 when the old Southwest Conference hired him as a field judge. He soon worked his way up to referee. As the Southwest Conference was dying out, he switched to the Southeastern Conference in 1994 and was a referee there for another 10 years. He worked three bowl games that had a number-one ranked team: the 1991 Orange Bowl (as a field judge), the 1993 Sugar Bowl (a #1 vs. #2 matchup), and the1998 Rose Bowl.

After he retired from the field, he continued to serve the SEC as a technical advisor, replay official, coordinator of football officials, and finally the national coordinator of officials in the CFO.

When he became national coordinator of officials, Redding worked hard to make sure officials from all conferences interpreted NCAA rules the same and all officials worked the same mechanics. He commented that before this, a person who knew about officiating could turn on the TV and know immediately what conference officials were working due to their positioning and signaling. With so many schools travelling to play different conferences early in the season — and with so many bowl games — Redding said the officials all needed to get on the same page.

For those who are of a certain age, college conferences used six or seven-man crews. If that wasn’t confusing enough, some conferences had wing officials start the play on the sideline, while other conferences had the wing officials almost shaking hands with the wide receiver. One conference had the referee line up almost parallel with the running back and others had the referee line up deep in the backfield.

Redding gave back to high school officiating, too. Each year he published The Redding Study Guide, an invaluable tool to help high school officials learn NFHS rules.

Not only was Redding an excellent college football official, he provided invaluable leadership to college officiating as the national coordinator of officials in the CFO. If you tune into a college football game today, and you can’t tell what conference is officiating the game, you can give Redding credit.

The National Football Foundation recognized Redding with the Outstanding Football Official Award in 2010 and then awarded him as the first officiating recipient of its Legacy Award in 2019.

Redding is survived by his wife, Shirley; four children; and 10 grandchildren.

Our sympathies to all who knew him and loved him. The text of his obituary appears below.

Rogers “Rog” Walker Redding, age 81, went to be with the Lord on April 7, 2024. Rog was a follower of Jesus Christ and a faithful member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church where he taught Sunday School for many years. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Rog was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, to George and Carolyn Redding on July 15, 1942, and was raised in nearby Georgetown, Kentucky. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Georgia Tech in 1965 and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt in 1969. He served as a physics professor and multiple senior academic administrative positions at the University of North Texas, Northern Kentucky University, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Having officiated football for more than three decades, he started his career working high school football in Texas. He later officiated in the Southwest Conference from 1988-1993 and served as a referee in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for nearly a decade. Rog had the privilege of officiating three national championships in his decorated officiating career. Following his retirement from active officiating in 2004, he served as a technical advisor, instant replay official, SEC coordinator of football officials and finally as the national coordinator of football officials.

In retirement, Rogers loved spending time with his wife, Shirley; his four children; and his ten grandchildren. He also found tremendous joy in teaching Sunday School, reading and cheering on his beloved Dodgers.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate his life at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham on Friday, April 12. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dawson Memorial Baptist Church.

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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