By Romi Bean

(CBS4)– For college referees, there is no bigger honor than a chance to officiate in the NCAA Tournament. For Colorado’s Randy McCall, 2021 marked his sixth Final Four and second Championship Game.

(credit: Randy McCall)

“The first time I worked championship game, there was a little bit of anxiety looking in the crowd, seeing 50,000 people and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh this is crazy,’” Randy McCall said of his first time officiating an NCAA Championship Game in 2004.

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“That’s the most scrutiny. It’s the most intense microscope you can be under. But that’s what we strive to do.”

For a referee, making to the Final Four or the Championship game is an honor, a privilege – and a stressful process of elimination. Refs are evaluated throughout the season and, much like the teams in the tournament, those with the best records make the cut. Once they make it to the tourney, the evaluation continues.

“Once you get in the tournament, they evaluate all those games and progress people on from the first weekend to the second weekend to the Final Four. It’s based upon grades, evaluating every decision we make and our ability to manage people,” McCall said.

(credit: CBS)

The ability to manage people in high-stress situations is crucial to a referee’s success.

“Realistically, at our level, it’s a people management profession. You have to be able to deal with coaches that are under a great deal of pressure and sometimes that pressure spills over onto you,” McCall said.

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Just like the athletes on the floor, Randy is constantly working to improve his game, and that requires the humility to acknowledge the bad calls far more than the good ones.

“What we remember after a game is our mistakes. We remember things that we maybe were not correct on. Those are the things that stick out,” McCall said.

McCall has every game from the past season on his iPad and is constantly evaluating his performances.

One play that probably is not on Randy’s iPad, but is splattered across the internet, is the time he had to take his refereeing to the sidelines and send a rowdy cheerleader packing.

(credit: CBS)

“That’s one of the more interesting situations I’ve found myself in. A cheerleader picked up his megaphone and started screaming some things that I can’t repeat at the kid shooting free throws. I looked at him and said, ‘No, don’t.’ Then I heard over my shoulder, the same voice. He did it again! So, I just walked over to the scorer’s table, and it was really funny, no one went to escort the cheerleader out. When I went to the scorer’s table, he knew and started walking out on his own,” McCall said.

The life of a ref isn’t an easy one. Whether it’s fans, cheerleaders, players or coaches, there will always be someone wanting to battle. But at the end of the day, it’s all worth it – especially when you make it to the big dance.

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“I get to be part of one of the greatest sports that we play,” McCall said.

Romi Bean