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Big 12 football: Richard Brown an example of officials' dedication, professionalism

Richard Brown is returning to Big 12 officiating after a two-year hiatus because of hip problems suffered after being hit in a 2010 game.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 19, 2013

“That helps me a whole lot as far as movement and that type of thing. Ninety percent of the time, a lot of action happening around you, and you're never touched. It's that one time that you are touched that can be the danger for an umpire.”

Yet Brown wants back in.

“It keeps me close to the game,” Brown said. “I played for 12, 13, 14 years of my life (including for Okmulgee High School and East Central University). The competition, I love that. Makes my adrenaline flow, just before kickoff, just like I did when I played the game. It's the excitement, the pageantry. All of it.”

Big 12 officials treat their craft the same way players and coaches treat theirs. Video study. Meetings. Constant dialogue on ways to improve.

That's a message Walt Anderson, the Big 12's director of officiating, wants to convey. In fact, last weekend, Anderson urged his officials to cooperate with any media in attendance and answer any and all questions.

“We're going to be open about what we do,” Anderson said. “Gives them much more insight, much more depth with what goes on relative to how you guys (officials) prepare for the season. Not just a situation where we show up on Saturdays, work a couple of hours and go home and not worry about things.”

The 53-year-old Brown, the father of former OU women's point guard Britney Brown, has passed along his love of officiating. Brown's son, Justin, is a major-college women's basketball referee.

“A lot of people don't understand, besides our regular job, I probably put 30 to 35 hours a week into officiating, looking at film, just like coaches and players would,” Brown said. “That's the bottom line. We want to be right or we want to be correct. It affects people, coaches and their jobs, wins and losses, teams getting in bowl games. Things like that. We want to be as correct as we can. We want to be at the top of our game every time we walk onto the field.”

Brown isn't back to full-time duty. He'll work as a reserve and rotating official, sometimes as an alternate, just to make sure he's 100 percent.

“I feel good physically,” Brown said. “The thing I want to make sure of, in the back of my mind, is if a player's coming at me, can I get out of the way quick enough? I guess there's always a little fear, if I get hit, can I take the blow? Can I perform at the level I need to perform?”

A Big 12 official wouldn't settle for anything less.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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