From little league to the Big 12, Jerod Phillips has come a long way in officiating

On Aug. 31, Phillips will trot onto another field. It will be hot. It could be raining. But it won’t be in Jay and it won’t be little leaguers. Phillips will make his Big 12 officiating debut with the nationally televised Baylor-SMU game, which inaugurates McLane Stadium hard by the Brazos River.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 17, 2014

Phillips, 39, is a seventh-grade geography teacher and coach in Grove, just north of Jay. He got into officiating through his father, Buddy, who spent 20 years calling Oklahoma high school games. Jerod Phillips worked high school games himself for many years.

“I’m proud for him,” Buddy Phillips said. “He’s really worked hard. I don’t mean this in a mean way. A lot of the ol’ boys, especially in high school, they’re just kind of looking for a paycheck and they don’t really get into the rules and the mechanics, try to better themselves, but Jerod never was that way. Way we look at it, go into a job, try to do it the best you can. That’s been his approach.”

Phillips has dedicated himself to attending clinics and incorporating what he’s learned. That’s what Anderson has seen since Phillips came aboard CFO West, the Big 12’s umbrella officials organization, in 2009.

“Once I started interacting with him when he was part of the Southland and he’s getting feedback directly on games ...then I see how he reacts the next week,” Anderson said. “He would take everything that we would do and he would do immediate improvement. Some people, you have to beat ‘em over the head with stuff and it never sinks in. He’s not only coachable, he’s responsible, in that he responds to what you’re coaching him. You see that effect right away.

“When you find people that perform and are coachable, they have a tendency to rise above the crowd rather quickly. And that’s exactly what he did.”

Buddy Phillips watched his son’s first game calling on the Division II level, at Pittsburg State, and figured his son was headed for advancement.

“I told the wife after the first game or two, he’s got such a demeanor and calm under stress,” Buddy Phillips said. “He’s got a knack for it. He’ll do good. Whenever I first started working with him, I knew he had a feel for it.

“I know he’s worked hard. He’s studied hard. When he first applied, they said, ‘Man, you gotta lose some weight.’ Well, I think he lost 40 pounds. He got to watching his diet and lost 40 pounds.”

Jerod Phillips is an example of the Big 12’s commitment to officiating. This is serious business, from the conference office to the guys on the field. They know their craft the same way coaches know theirs. Big 12 officials are committed to excellence, and if that commitment slides, Anderson stands ready to ride herd.

“We’ve got a system here... the mechanics, the philosophies they’re teaching, the viewpoint of the game to make it the best it can possibly be,” Phillips said. “That’s their goal. If you put your focus and concentrate on what they want you to do, the opportunities to move ahead are there.”

And so next month in Waco, a glistening new stadium opens along with a glistening new chapter in a career.

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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