After a season in which scrutiny on the NFL’s officials was even greater than usual, the league has announced that there will be more turnover than usual in the officiating department.
A press release distributed today confirmed that the NFL has hired 12 new officials for the 2014 season. That’s the largest turnover of officiating personnel in a dozen years.
The most recognizable name on the list of new officials is Shawn Hochuli, the son of longtime NFL referee Ed Hochuli. Shawn Hochuli has been a longtime Pac-12 official and will now join the NFL as a side judge. All 12 of the new officials were in major college football last year, with four coming from the Pac-12, three from the SEC, two from the Big 12, two from the Big Ten and one from the ACC.
The league also announced that two veteran officials, Ronald Torbert and Craig Wrolstad, have been promoted to referee. They will replace retiring referees Scott Green and Ron Winter.
Although the NFL doesn’t make a public show of it when officials are shown the door, the increased roster turnover in the officiating department suggests that the league realizes it needs to do a better job of making sure it has the seven best officials possible on the field for each game. Just as veteran players lose their jobs to players from the college ranks every year, if the NFL can improve its officiating by promoting some college officials to the pros, that’s something the NFL needs to do.
More changes will surely come again next year, and the NFL has also identified several current college officials who are being groomed for NFL jobs as soon as next year. That list includes two women, Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka, who are currently working in Conference USA. The NFL has previously had a female official serve as a replacement during the officiating lockout of 2012, but no woman has ever been hired as a permanent member of the league’s officiating department.