UA-159384965-1 Dean Blandino, CFO National Director of Instant Replay - Behind The Flag

Episode 19

Published on:

20th May 2020

Dean Blandino, CFO National Director of Instant Replay

Building Blocks To Success 

Ken Adent (4s):

Ken. Okay. Great. Um, thank you guys for joining another, a webinar with us. Uh, Mexico high school football guys. Um, we have mr. Dean Blandino, uh, on The is our guest speaker today, but before we get started, uh, we usually, uh, let people know what's coming up and we really are going to take a few weeks notice on vacation from these. And we're going to come back with a rule sessions. Dennis do you have those dates for everybody?

Dennis Barela (35s):

I think we're going to start, uh, the first week, or I'm sorry, the week of June 15th, we'll send out, um, eight and one we'll hold the first one. Probably I'm thinking on a Saturday or Sunday. I'm not sure yet, but it's going to be that week and we're going to plan on running eight to 10 rule sessions through the summer. Take a break for the district clinic, or that tends to be, and then roll right into the regular season with the quizzes.

Dennis Barela (1m 6s):

This is the last spring summer session. And we're going out with a bang with mr. Dean Blandino

Ken Adent (1m 14s):

I hear that. Um, Dean we have our commissioner of football officials on with us Dean and Pappas. She usually likes to say a few words and then I'll introduce you. So Dana,

Dana Pappas (1m 28s):

Hey, Dean long time. No, see, how are you? Great. How are you doing? I'm doing well. Good. Well, thank you so much for spending a Wednesday night with us and giving, giving you have yourself and your time to our football officials here in New Mexico. Um, as Ken and Dennis mentioned, we're definitely going out on a high note at the end of these, the spring webinars, and, uh, it's great to have you on, and you're somebody I've always thought very highly of, and I'm, I'm excited to have you with our New Mexico family.

Dana Pappas (1m 58s):

So it's great seeing you again and thank you so much for your time this evening.

Dean Blandino (2m 3s):

No, thank you. And then, like I said, I'm honored to be a part of this. Like You've had some great speakers and, uh, and it's just, I'm excited to, uh, to just share some, share some stuff about Instant Replay and hear your questions and just, and just have a conversation.

Dana Pappas (2m 19s):

I appreciate it. Thank you, my friend. I'll turn it over to our, uh, our football folks.

Ken Adent (2m 24s):

Great. Thank you, Dana. I appreciate it. Um, I just noticed we have mr. Mike Contreras that you had of the ARMAC Mike, would you like to say hello? Do a Dean before he gets started.

Mike Contrezas (2m 36s):

Good evening. Dean how are you?

Dean Blandino (2m 38s):

I'm good, Mike, how are you?

Mike Contrezas (2m 39s):

I'm doing well. Thank you. I'm doing well. I'm, I've been enjoyed some of your, um, your past presentations and I'm really excited to, to hear what you have to say tonight to the, to the group here. Uh, I was going to save it for a question, but what I'll I'll ask that you, hopefully you will address, and that is how can they use Replay to improve their officiating on the field. And by that, I mean, and how they understand the Replay process and at the high school level, obviously we don't have it, how they can understand Replay what Replay is looking for and then how they can turn that around and improve their officiating on the field.

Dean Blandino (3m 22s):

Yeah, I'd say it's a good question. And we talked To How would you officials and NFL officials quite a bit about that it's, you know, knowing the Replay process, how does that make you a better on film official? And I think when, when Replay was first implemented, um, there was a, there was a clear separation and, and it was the on-field officials did what they do, Replay did what they do. And there really wasn't a lot of collaboration and it was almost, I think initially there was some, there was some kind of hesitancy on the, on the part of the game officials, uh, you know, in terms of accepting Replay I think that has obviously changed over time and it's become really a part of the fabric of the game at the college level and, and the NFL level.

Dean Blandino (4m 6s):

I think understanding the process, um, is, is critical, uh, because there are many things now that, you know, and the college game we're using wireless communication to communicate from the Replay booth to the on-field official's and then among the on-field officials and replays getting involved and in more and more things, penalty enforcements and, and helping in other areas because the game does happen very quickly. I think understanding what Replay does will help you even at the high school level, because what we're going to talk about it a little bit later is the Replay process.

Dean Blandino (4m 42s):

And I think if you can apply that process to whenever you watch game film, I think that can help you get better, right? How do we get better without actually getting out and getting reps right through video, right? And the access to video and has been, you know, has evolved over the years. And it's, it's, it's so much better than when it was when I first started or, or when I'm sure when many of you first started and we have access to film and access to people and, and, and to be able to collaborate that way is, is so important to our development.

Dean Blandino (5m 12s):

And so watching game film, that's what Replay is. It's watching plays on video, breaking it down, there's a process to it. And I think if you understand and learn that process, it can help you break down your own game film, and then it can help you see things out on the football field. So, so we'll go through that and hopefully it'll help you pick up some things and I'll be, I'll be quite honest. I'm also, I'm going to, you're going to hear a little bit of a recruiting pitch from me today. And, and because we need, we need good people in Replay and we need to find other ways to create a pipeline, um, and inclusive and, and sustainable pipeline.

Dean Blandino (5m 50s):

And, and so, and so you're going to hear a little bit of that as well.

Mike Contrezas (5m 53s):

Good. Thank you very much, Mike.

Ken Adent (5m 55s):

We're asking Dean a question. So, um, again, you guys Are, our guest today is Dean Blandino you can look on the left side of the screen. His, his resume is impressive. All it, I won't read the whole thing, but, um, fascinating story, uh, multifaceted. Mmm. And the who's who of, of college football officiating, especially in the Replay area. Um, uh, just a little story. Dean I, this is my first year at Sassa and I got a position for off field Replay just to learn more about it.

Ken Adent (6m 30s):

And, um, it has just opened my eyes to Replay and it's actually going to make me a better on-field official. Um, so I'm really excited to have you here today, but I'll turn it over to you, ladies and gentlemen. Dean Blandino

Dean Blandino (6m 47s):

All right. Well, thank you. So what I want to do, and I'll, I'll just share my screen here and hopefully do this the right way. I've been, I've been on a, I've been on zoom calls pretty much all week, but I think we can figure this out. And, um, so what I want to do is I want, I want to talk about, like I said, The the recruitment process, and I think this is going to be important as, as the future of Replay and what, and what that, what that looks like.

Dean Blandino (7m 17s):

And it, and it's going to start with, it's going to start with, with people, it's going to start with people like you. And, uh, and so let me see if I can get this here.

Ken Adent (7m 31s):

That's working. Okay, good. Good, good.

Dean Blandino (7m 34s):

So let's go, Let's go to the beginning. Right? So, so it starts with people, right? And, and like I said, we are trying to create an inclusive and sustainable pipeline for Replay and, and what our population currently exists, um, of, and the college ranks is, is it's mostly made up of retired on field. And then there's obviously that was, that was our, our pool, right?

Dean Blandino (8m 4s):

When Replay first came in, in the mid two thousands, well, where were we going to get people that understood officiating and understood rules? Well, they were going to be on field officials in, and the way it happened was on-field officials that were toward the end of their career for whatever reason. And, uh, and they ended up in the Replay book and many of these officials have been successful. They've been, they've done really well, and some of them have struggled. And, and what I'm going to talk about is I'm going to talk about that Replay official profile and what we're looking for and, and why it makes sense to look outside that, that pool of people.

Dean Blandino (8m 41s):

Um, so what we want to do is we want to identify people like yourselves, people from around the country that are on the field. Now that maybe you're not thinking about, um, I, I want to, I have goals. I have things I want to achieve on the field. I love it. Um, but maybe I haven't been exposed to Replay maybe I don't understand what they do. And, and, and so if we can educate People like yourselves on field officials that are earlier in their careers, and maybe, maybe it'll maybe a light bulb will go off, maybe, maybe something will click and you say, Hey, wait a minute.

Dean Blandino (9m 14s):

I have those skills. And I could apply those skills to Replay and maybe I could go even farther in my career than I would on the field. So we want to identify people that have the skillset and have an interest and get them opportunities. Right. We want to, we want to look outside the box and look outside of fishy. Okay. Right. Can we recruit people? Not from the officiating moral, believe me, I didn't, I didn't, I never officiated on the field. And, and I feel like I accomplished a lot in, and I did it through different ways.

Dean Blandino (9m 45s):

I did it through learning the rules. I did it through video and technology. And, and so, so you can accomplish what you want in a lot of different ways. So we're looking at student athletes, we're looking at lower levels, officials and other sports or athletes and other sports. Maybe, maybe these are, these are athletes at a division two or division three school playing football. And aren't going to go to the NFL on the field as a player, but they love the game. They want to stay involved. Maybe they can transition as an official, and we can teach them the rules and teach them the mechanics and, and help them along.

Dean Blandino (10m 19s):

Right. As, and then as, as all, you know, it doesn't, it doesn't happen overnight. And we don't, we're not looking to, to fast track people. We're not looking, but we want to get people from other areas, interested in officiating, interested in Replay and, and, uh, and we can create that pipeline. Okay. So what does that profile look like? What are we looking for in a, in a Replay official, it starts with character and, and look, this isn't rocket science. Um, if, if I'm the head of any company and, and I don't care if whatever industry it is, I want people with good character that that's a part of it.

Dean Blandino (10m 56s):

And when we look at on-field officials, right, we want, we want good people. It's as simple as that. And you're going to spend time on cruise. You're going to spend time communicating with people, interacting with people. And we want, we want the type of people that have good character that are going to represent our organizations well and are going to make this environment and make this whole process and enjoyable one. So it starts there. And then as we get into more specifics, right, with looking for people that are more analytical, all right, or have, have the ability to analyze plays instead of officiating it.

Dean Blandino (11m 33s):

And that's the heartless transition. When you talk about people that I've worked on the field that transitioned to Replay, it's hard. You have to, you have to reprogram your brain because you're used to looking at the game a certain way. You're gonna use, you're gonna use your mechanics and your positioning and your experience and your instinct and your feel, and guts sometimes To make decisions in a split second, looking at it once in Replay, right?

Dean Blandino (12m 3s):

Those things can help us in certain areas, but we're not making decisions based on what we feel or what we think. Okay. We have to make decisions based on the video. And we have to focus on what you can prove. So we can look at a play and get a feel for it. We could think something. I think that Pass, this is incomplete. It looks like it's a catch, but when you're using those types of language and the Replay booth that can lead us down a wrong path, because you have to prove it with the video, Prove that it was a catch prove that it was incomplete, prove that it was a touchdown.

Dean Blandino (12m 45s):

So the question you have to ask yourself when you're considering replace, can you work through an analytical process? Okay. So as you think about that, think about that question. Can you manage multiple inputs when you're up in the Replay booth? And I don't know how many of you have been in a Replay booth? Um, it can be overwhelming the first time. And so you've got there's there's technology that we have to deal with. There's three television screens in the college game. You've got a technician that's responsible for operating the system.

Dean Blandino (13m 18s):

You have a communicator that is your assistant, your I R number two, you have, in many cases, a fourth person in the booth that is insistent Communicare that is going to help you describe what's happening on the field and tell you what the offense is doing. And then if we go to a review, we're talking to the referee. So can you manage all of those, all of those streams of communication, and sometimes it's happening simultaneously. So you ask yourself the question, can you handle process where you have to manage a number of inputs, simultaneous <inaudible>, Are you a flexible thinker?

Dean Blandino (13m 57s):

This is so critical because not all replays are created equal as we go through process and a little bit, you're going to see as the game situation changes and it's changing every play, right? That's going to dictate what we do in the Replay. So we have to have the ability to apply the proper rule at the proper time. Now that that on-field officiating has that aspect as well. Right? Can we use our experience to know when this set of circumstance presents, it presents itself?

Dean Blandino (14m 28s):

Can we apply the proper role and the next time it happens, can we be consistent? So again, ask yourself the question. Are you uncomfortable working in an environment where the hard and fast rules don't always apply? Look, we work in officiating. It's not always, we want rules to be black and white, but we know there's so much gray. And even in the Replay booth, when it's supposed to be more definitive and it's supposed to be more objective, we have gray area and we have to be able to navigate through those gray areas.

Dean Blandino (14m 60s):

So can we do that? All right. Attitude again, attitude is so critical to To anything that we do, but especially in the Replay booth, we're looking for people with the right attitude. Are you coachable? Okay. And even, and even probably more critical. Cool is can you approach the game in a different way? Okay. Can you adapt your way of thinking to a new process? The Replay officials that are successful adapt their way of thinking to the Replay way of thinking, not the other way around, if you're stuck in your ways coming from on the field or coming from where you're coming from, and you're stuck in your way of thinking, and you're not going to Changed the way you approach the game, you're not going to be successful.

Dean Blandino (15m 47s):

So you asked yourself that question, you know, am I open to a new way of looking at the game? Can I turn off my officiating brain at times? And can I be more analytical? Really, really tough sometimes. And when you talk to play to people that have Johnny on-field and then work Replay, they'll tell you that's the hardest transition sexual world looking for. Okay. So, so what are the, what are the Building Blocks To Success and look, this is not specific to Replay.

Dean Blandino (16m 19s):

This is on-field officiating To, but this is what we're looking for. This is how we create Success and these are Building Blocks they could also be barriers to success if we're not diligent in these areas, preparation. Okay. Preparation is key preparation. If we're prepared and we've gotten through the thing is we need to go through and we're not just winging it, we're going to be successful. So what does that look like? Right? Are we evaluating our own performance?

Dean Blandino (16m 49s):

We have a game. We work the game during the week. Are we evaluating our performance? Are we going through every game you work, you know, those three or four plays that you have a question about that you can't wait, you know, to go look at the film and see what the film shows it's the same in the Replay booth, there are those three or four plays. You want to go back and look at, you know, are you going back? Are you evaluating your own decisions after the fact? And are you coming to the same conclusion?

Dean Blandino (17m 20s):

That's what we ask our Replay officials to do, you know, collaboration with your peers. We have access to so many people. We have access. We have ways to communicate. Um, like we never had before. Are we communicating with our peers, working with each other, sharing, plays, sharing, test questions, those types of things. Okay. Our rules and our mechanics review is so important. What was knowledge is critical. Um, we want to be experts in the, and it doesn't change.

Dean Blandino (17m 50s):

And the Replay many Replay officials think that when they become a Replay official, they don't have to know all the rules. I only have to know what's reviewable, and that's not the case. We have to know penalty enforcements, because we may overturn a call on the field. And now a penalty enforcement may change. And we have to know that. So our rules, our mechanics, we have to be experts at all times really critical. One of the things I like to do was I was learning, you know, I was learning the NFL rules.

Dean Blandino (18m 21s):

Um, I was learning the college rules. I study up on the high school rules. I try to take a section of the rule book and I try to write it in my own words because I can understand my own words. Rule books are written. It almost feels like legally, it feels like legal, a legal document. And, and, and in some ways that's what it is. But if we can write it in our own words, that we can understand it and have somebody help us, maybe somebody, maybe it's a mentor, maybe somebody on our crew, somebody that we've looked up to that can help us.

Dean Blandino (18m 52s):

Hey, am I on the right page? Is this what this rule means? That's a great exercise to go through the training materials, whatever we're getting, whether it's, whether it's video, whether it's quizzes, whatever we're getting. And those of those who are evaluating us, we're helping us. And that's, it's critical that we review that And then getting ready for the upcoming game. Right? We, we want to know what the two teams like to do, trends, things like that. We don't ask our Replay officials to get into every little detail, like they were gone.

Dean Blandino (19m 27s):

You know, it's an upcoming opponent and, and, and, and we're playing a, you know, where, where the team scouting, but we've got to know what the offense likes to do. Do they hurry up? They go fast. Do they? Huddle being prepared is so critical. And then just understanding the logistics. Okay. Knowing when we're getting to the game, what time is our pregame meeting? Who do we have to communicate with? Who do we have to make sure is, is, is where they need to be when they need to be there Going through all that is all part of preparation And then communication critical.

Dean Blandino (20m 1s):

And Replay, as a Replay official, you're going to set the expectations in the Replay booth. You're going to go through the roles and responsibilities, and everybody has specific roles and responsibilities. And you have to make sure that you set those expectations for today's game right here, here's everybody's role. Here's what I expect. And we're going through that as we communicate, whether it's on the field or in the Replay booth, we want to be clear and concise many times in the Replay booth.

Dean Blandino (20m 31s):

It's not a conversation. It's, we're, we're, we're going through a series of facts. We're going through a series of things that we have to communicate to either a referee or communicator. One of our, one of our other personnel in the Replay booth. So clear and concise communication is so critical video that I shared. And, and you can go and look at it, just, just go on YouTube and look at there. There was a Southwest flight, um, and, and look up Southwest pilot lands, plane with, with blown engine, right?

Dean Blandino (21m 7s):

And listen to that communication. You can listen to the communication between the pilot and air traffic control. And that's the type of communication that we want on the field. And this type of communication we want in the Replay booth. It's clear, it's concise. It's a very, very stressful environment and they are calm and they communicate what they need to communicate. And there isn't a lot of extra Lang, got it. That'd be good listeners, right? When we say, you know, being a good communicator is being able to articulate yourself and those, but no, that's just part of it.

Dean Blandino (21m 42s):

All right, we've got to be good listeners. We have to. And when you listen and we do this in our everyday lives, how many times do you have a conversation with someone, whether it's a friend, whether it's a significant other, whether it's a colleague and as they're speaking, we're just thinking about what our response is going to right. Then we're not really listening. If that's all we're doing, I do it all the time. And I try to be mindful of it, right? If you're thinking about what your response is going to be, you're not actually thank you not, and you're not actually listening to what they're saying.

Dean Blandino (22m 16s):

And then that self evaluation is so critical during the game. Replay officials have the benefit during, during media breaks and making go back, look at the video and evaluate their own performance. You might've had a review A couple of minutes ago, we get to a break. Now they can go through it with a little more time. And that's important Confidence, right? We have confidence in everything that we do. We're confident in paired, right? If we have an experience, repetition is going to help give us competence, confidence, look, there's going to come a point, right?

Dean Blandino (22m 52s):

And everybody's career. We just started. And again, our To, you weren't as confident when you first start something as you are when you've been doing it for awhile. So we've got to get more reps. We've got to take more opportunities to get better. And how do we do that? Right. When we're not out there on the football field, we look at videos. And if you're looking at video and you're breaking down film, you're preparing for a career in Replay. You may not know it, but you're preparing yourself for a career accountability, right?

Dean Blandino (23m 23s):

We're looking for people that are gonna, that are gonna hold themselves accountable and they're going to hold others accountable. Okay. And the Replay booth, it's a team, right? The Replay official is in charge, but it's a team concept and we have to hold each other accountable and we have to make sure we communicate what are the performance standards? And we continue to emphasize those throughout. Yeah. And then lastly, stress, stress is something that it can be a negative.

Dean Blandino (23m 55s):

And usually when we think of stress, we think of it now, negative way. Um, but stress can also be a positive, right? Because when we're under stress, our body starts to, it starts to create certain right. Certain hormones and our body starts to change. You think about, you think about The the fight or flight that, that reaction, right. That, that comes from stress and how we handle that stress is so important. And we can use it to our benefit, right? If we're, and how do we, how do we overcome a stressful environment and use it to our benefit, if we're confident, right?

Dean Blandino (24m 29s):

And confidence comes from the things we just talked about, we're prepared and we've had experience, and we have those repetitions, um, just be yourself and there's, and you can't be anybody else. Right. So just be yourself and work through it. Right. And humor and humor can help you. I believe me and officiating, if you don't have a sense of humor, you're not going to last very long, right. It's a negative environment. 99% of the time when I worked at the NFL, right. I can count on one hand.

Dean Blandino (25m 1s):

Right. And that was in the NFL a long time. I can count on one hand, the amount of times a coach or a GM called me to tell me that the crew did a nice job, that the crew did a good job. Right? I can't, I can't tell you how many times a coach called me the other one. So having a sense of humor is going to be, is going to be something that will help us get through those, those stressful times. Um, look, diet and exercise. How we, how we physical fitness. This is so important.

Dean Blandino (25m 33s):

When I first started at the NFL in 1994, we, we had a yearly clinic of, you know, a summer clinic, like most organizations do. And the physical fitness requirement for the on-field official was they had to walk a mile, right? It wasn't, it wasn't timed. That was their requirement. And we have come a long way. And, you know, I don't know how many high school, you know, in terms of, in terms of organizations and, and local associations, you know, have any type of physical fitness requirement.

Dean Blandino (26m 7s):

But certainly when you get to the college level and the NFL level, it is expansive and how, how you, and that is going to be something, as we're thinking about moving up, right. How, how we, how we look and how we move. And all of that is going to be looked at, and that's going to come down to diet and exercise. And look, I am not telling you that you have to count calories. And so you have to, I love to eat, but exercise should be a part of your normal when possible. And I understand we all have, we all have jobs and we all have families and, and, and other other responsibilities, but we have be if we're going to give our best.

Dean Blandino (26m 45s):

So those To those kids and, and to those teams and to ourselves and to our crew. And then, then we have to take care of ourselves and that's important, um, breathing right. And just simple things. I always tell Replay officials in the Replay booth when something happens and, you know, those plays, when that play happens, that it's you take, you go what just happened, right? It's a, if there's an interception and then a fumble and, and, and a long return, and there's three flags on the play, alright, just take a deep breath.

Dean Blandino (27m 16s):

Don't, don't jump because sometimes you'll find yourself and you don't, you're not even breathing for 10 or 15 seconds because something is happening in your, have your body's having that response, take a deep breath. It just resets everything. This is something we, we tell our Replay officials, but this isn't, again, it's not rocket scientists, positive thought control. And visualization is so important to everything that we do, right. If we believe we're going to fail and chances are we're going to fail, right.

Dean Blandino (27m 46s):

If we can visualize, see Success, then we're going to be in a better position to be successful. And if we can keep the negative thoughts out of our minds, and it's so hard, right. When we're in that negative environment, we don't get a lot of positive reinforcement and officiating. It's the same in the Replay. Right. So how do we do that? Right. Our crew mates, we keep, we pick each other up. We encourage each other, those types of things, our own in our own minds were we're positive. We're waiting for that big call.

Dean Blandino (28m 18s):

We're ready for it, where we're, we're anticipating getting it right. And being in good position and nailing it. It's the same in the Replay anticipation. And anticipation is so important. And the Replay thinking about types of plays that are going to happen. That could be significant. Okay. So, so I'll stop there and I'll open it up before I get into Replay process. I don't just, I don't want this to just be me, me talking, you know, any questions or anything that you've ever you know about Replay how do I'm interested?

Dean Blandino (28m 53s):

How do I get started? Anything about anything that I just covered before we get into a little bit more of the actual process?

Ken Adent (29m 5s):

I'm always asking questions. Anybody else want to jump in before me? So day and night email this week, I mentioned in the email that, um, The NFAs rule book does address Replay at the high school level for both season on New Mexico.

Dennis Barela (29m 37s):

Hasn't adopted it, or I don't know if they are even thinking about dr. But Can you just talk a little bit about Replay and the regual season for high school sports?

Dean Blandino (29m 47s):

Sure, sure. So, yeah, so that, you know, I believe they, you know, they put that in and in 2019 and, and they said that, um, that The The each state could implement Replay for, for the postseason only. And if, and if the, and some States have, you know, well, Alabama, Texas, um, Ohio, some, some, and when they put in and, and I think for me, what was, what was interesting is that they said, okay, then if a state decides to, to put Replay and implement Replay for the postseason, the state is responsible for coming up with the guidelines and the parameters.

Dean Blandino (30m 25s):

Um, and that, that's interesting. And I don't know, Oh, if that's a positive, because then you could have, you know, in Texas, they're doing one thing and in Florida, they're doing a different, it's something different in Alabama. It's completely different. So you don't, you don't have that consistency. And, uh, and so, and so that was one, I do think the other issue with, with high school Replay is really, it comes down to resources and that we know, right, the NFL has not that they don't have unlimited resources, but they've got a lot of sources.

Dean Blandino (30m 56s):

Many of the power, five conferences have a lot of resources. And then as you go down the line, those resources start to start to decrease. And when you think about high school athletics, we're not talking about big budgets. So how can we implement Replay and understanding that we have to, it has to be cost effective, and then just try to create a consistent, a consistent system. So, so for me, you know, there are, there are sideline, you know, coaches are using video on the sideline for some, whether it's huddle or, or an edge system.

Dean Blandino (31m 28s):

Can we somehow incorporate that into Replay certainly possible. I just think Replay in high school football. Um, it should be limited if it is used. I understand the magnitude of these post-season games. I like that it's just postseason, but I think I would love for NFA chess to have some guidelines in place that if you are going to implement Replay, here are our recommended guidelines so that there is some consistency in terms of limiting it. I know in New Jersey, they have some rules that apply, you know, if it's, if it's a 17 and more points live with less than two minutes to go, there's no Replay.

Dean Blandino (32m 7s):

Or if we implement the running clock, there's no Replay Mmm The. These are high school games. These are high school kids. And, and I just think we have to be mindful of being too intrusive. Um, the NFL is different, right? The NFL there, these are professionals, um, there is, there is significant there's people's jobs on the line, things like that. Whereas in high school, you like to think of it as more of a pure environment where it's about the kids. It's about more, you know, having, having fun, but ultimately when it gets supposed season that stuff, it matters.

Dean Blandino (32m 40s):

And then that's why we have Replay, um, that, that they decided to, uh, you know, to allow States to implement it. I just think it needs to be consistent. And, and I think we have to have some, you know, a real, a real conversation about the resources. And can we find some vendors out there that can create some cost-effective systems that high school associations and States can use. Great. Thank you. Dean this is Mike.

Dean Blandino (33m 12s):

And what I want to add is, um, okay. I know you're going to discuss the process on Replay, but earlier you stated that you encourage them to watch a lot of films. Well, while they're doing that, my thought is, Do you use that time to be a play by play announcer? Once, once you have presented to them process and the things to look for, then watch these video on sleep and just be a play by play announcer as if you were the communicator.

Dean Blandino (33m 49s):

And you would have a pretty good understanding as to what Type of is going to go on in a Replay booth. Well, if it's going to help you look for certain things and I would help you on the field, No question that, that, and that is. And we talk about with our communicators. In many instances, you are a play by play announcer. And then sometimes, and I've said this before, sometimes you hear a radio play by play announcer and radio is obviously more descriptive because people are listening.

Dean Blandino (34m 21s):

They can't see what's happening. And sometimes you're a television play by play announcer because The, you know, that's less descriptive. Um, because you know, the, the viewer can actually see it where radio is more descriptive. Um, so, so that's really, it's so important. And, and I'll walk through the process. We don't have any other questions. Um, I'll start to go through the process and then maybe that can, maybe that can start to formulate some other questions and some other things that we can talk about.

Dean Blandino (34m 52s):

Okay. So, so we break it down and this isn't much different than on the field. We break it down into three areas. We talk about pre-snap pre kick. And, uh, and so as a Replay official, I need to establish the game situation. And this, we say before every, before every snap for every kick, we're going through this same routine, because that's the only way we're going to master it. The only way we're going to be efficient and the only way we're going to be truly consistent.

Dean Blandino (35m 22s):

So it's, it's a cadence I'm sure on the field, you have a pre snap routine that you go through. This is, and I'm sure there's going to be some, some, some similarities, right? So, so as a Replay official, I want to know, I want to know my down and do this. Okay. I need to know that. And I need to know where we are on the football. So it's going to sound like this. And we ask our Replay officials just to like a quarterback has a cadence. You have a cadence in the booth. Okay. It's second down.

Dean Blandino (35m 53s):

We're at the 20 go into the 39. It's third down. We're at the 40 going to the 38. And that's, that is every play. We're saying that out loud, because that tells everybody, cause everybody went down in this. It tells everybody and where we're lunch scrimmages and where the line of gain is. We want our Replay officials to be aware of the time and the score. Okay. The score is not critical. It's not a, it's not a factor until late in the game.

Dean Blandino (36m 25s):

So in the first quarter, we're not overly concerned with the score, the end of the game, where we're gonna look at a play differently. This is 17, 14 compared to 40 to nothing. You're gonna look at those plays differently clock. We have to be having have a general, general game clock awareness. And that's important. We have to know how much, how many timeouts each team can they stop the car with a timeout?

Dean Blandino (36m 55s):

We know the types of rulings that can stop the clock, but can a team take a time out to stuff right? In the booth, we're counting the players on both sides of the ball. This is before every play is that true viewable. You can review 12 men on the field in both college and the NFL. So we're counting the offense camp and the defense confirming that we have 11, just like we do on the field. We're aware of players running on and off is the offense substituted is the defense bringing players.

Dean Blandino (37m 30s):

Um, we're aware of that. We ask our Replay officials and this is, this is something, it will make you a better on-field official And it will help you in Replay the, The the greater our football IQ look. And not everybody, not everybody played the game. It doesn't, you don't have to play the game to be a good official or be a good Replay official. But if we understand the game and we watch enough film, and we look at it From that perspective and understanding formations and understanding what teams like to do that can help us, it can help us anticipate things.

Dean Blandino (38m 9s):

And no one's asking you to be Tony Romo and, and, and analyze. And, and, and, and to that degree, or be paid Manning, reading the defense. We're not talking about that, but just have a general sense To know that if we have an empty backfield, then it's probably going to be a pass. Or, or if we have a player coming in motion toward the quarterback, we've gotta be aware of that, that potential jet sweep, the pitch. Is it a handoff? Is it a forward pass?

Dean Blandino (38m 41s):

Just being aware of what teams like to do the defense formation, you know, do we have defensive players, crowding line of scrimmage anticipating a blends? Are we going to have, is a quarterback going to have to get rid of it quickly? It's just having that general IQ to understand and anticipate things. We want our Replay officials to do that. And that should be something on the field as well, that we consider Camera location. We ask our Replay officials to know where the cameras are located, and it becomes more critical when we get to align.

Dean Blandino (39m 15s):

Right? If we have the line of gain involved, where we have a goal line, that's going to be important because they're going to have to access camera angles after this, right? They're either going to have to wait for TV to show it. Or in some conferences, they have access to a couple of different angles immediately. And they're going to have to look at those ads And then anticipation, right? Think about the type of ruling that would create a Replay stuff. Did we talk about significant plays, right? Or scoring plays turnovers, big yardage plays 20 plus yards.

Dean Blandino (39m 50s):

Those are going to be big plays line of gain. If it's third or fourth down than line of games, and this is going to be, or first and second down, the line of gain is not as important. So we want our Replay officials to anticipate that. And then we want them to have a play clock awareness, you know, it's the play clock running down. So it's a lot of things they have to go through prior to a snapper, a kick. And many times there isn't, it's not a big window, right? It's not, it's, it's, it's, it's a pretty short window that they have to work with it.

Dean Blandino (40m 21s):

And so the only way they're going to be efficient is if they do it over, And then we transitioned during the play. And really this is a lot of this has to do with on-field officiating as well. Right. We cleared the snapper, the kick. So there's layers, there's levels to a play. And we want to Replay officials, whereas on the field, and this will be transitioned for many on-field officials on the field. If you're watching the football, you're not officiating well in Replay the football.

Dean Blandino (40m 52s):

Most of the time, it's going to tell you where the significant action is. So we clear the snap or the kick, right? Did the quarterback received this snap? Do we have a ball on the ground? How did it get there? Then if there's an exchange, right? If the quarterback and running back, if we get that mesh point and there's an exchange, Did he give the ball to the running back? Did he keep it as the ball on the ground? How did it get there? If we have a pass in the college game, we have to clear the passer for targeting.

Dean Blandino (41m 24s):

So if we have a high hit, that's something that Replay could look at and we have to be aware of it. And then, like I said, we're tracking the football football. Most of the time is going to take each of the critical aspect that is revealed, But it doesn't mean that we get blinders on. And we just focus on the football. We have to focus on the action around the ball. So if we have a ball carrier, we're aware of his proximity to, to the silence, right? Is he, where is he in relation to the line? The game blindside Blocks that could be targeting players, peeling back Something we need to be aware of.

Dean Blandino (42m 2s):

If we have a pass let's establish, is it forward and backwards? Did the past take place beyond the neutral zone? Was it touched? Was it touched by an eligible player? Was it touched by name eligible? And then boundary awareness has players are running routes. Did that receiver step out of bounds and come back in and was the first to touch the past. All these things Replay officials have to consider as the play is happening.

Dean Blandino (42m 32s):

If we have a kick scrimmage kick we're clearing the action around the kicker, there are situations where there's a Flag down on the field for running into the kicker. And the Replay official sees that that player actually tipped the ball before he ran into the kicker that's reviewable. And we can pick up that Flag, we're looking for fair catch signals. And we're we're. We have a boundary awareness where ball kickball may hit upon hits near the sideline at the that's, the 20.

Dean Blandino (43m 3s):

And it bounces into back toward the field of play and the returner picks it up and runs it back for touchdowns. Did that ball hit the sideline? Should it have been dead there? That's something Replay can look at. And then possession really, really 99% of the time replays ruling on possession, route, every play, a handoff, a forward pass, a loose ball we're dealing with possession. And then they have to confirm the play's over and above.

Dean Blandino (43m 35s):

When the play is over, they confirm the clock status. So if the clock is supposed to be stopped, confirm that the clock has stopped, the clock is supposed to be running, confirm that it was running. And then we transitioned to, after the play Ruling on the field is critical. Get the ruling on the field. We're looking at you. We're looking at the on-field officials. We're looking for your signals. We're looking at your body language. We're looking to see how decisive you are. The clock can help us, did the clock stop, or is it running?

Dean Blandino (44m 7s):

We're looking at reactions. Reactions of players can help. Well, we got to get the ruling on the field. That's the first piece of information Replay needs at the end of The at the end of the down. And we're looking for clock stoppages. Is there a Flag down? Do we have an injured player as a team taking a time out. This is the clock stopping for a re other, then the ruling that's important. We may not know what the Flag is for, but we want our communicators to call out that there's a Flag on the play.

Dean Blandino (44m 41s):

As soon as they become aware, because that tells the Replay official, that everything is stopped and you have some time to work through the process. One set of eyes has to remain on the field. There's multiple people in the Replay booth. Replay officials going to be responsible for looking at the video after the play, making a determination and a communicator is going to be watching the field and telling the Replay official what's happening on the field. Because we know that that the Replay official can only review a play until the next legal snapper kicks.

Dean Blandino (45m 15s):

So we need to know how much time we have. If that snap goes off, we can't stop the game to look at that previous place. So it's so important. Then we establish what's reviewable, right? Catch, no catch fumbled down by rule Could be a targeting situation. Then we determined the competitive effect. And the key thing to remember about Replay is it's designed to fix the obvious mistake in a significant situation.

Dean Blandino (45m 48s):

That's that's the basic reason Replay was put in. Now we have gone well beyond that. And now we have to make sure that we don't go too far beyond, So we're not there to reify every play. We're not there to fix every potential mistake, right? Yes. Every play matters. Every play has an impact. Okay. But a three yard pass in the first quarter, this is not significant compared to the 20 yard class and the fourth quarter of a one score game, right?

Dean Blandino (46m 18s):

The plays are different. They have different levels of significance and the Replay official has oppression to work through it. Even though it might be a potential mistake. It's four yards and we're in the first quarter, I'm not going to stop the game. We're not there to fix every potential mistake. They then analyze the available angles and they make a decision every time. And they're either going to make the decision to stop the game and review it.

Dean Blandino (46m 48s):

Or they're going to move on to their pre snap pre kick routine. That's the process. That's what they do. We ask them to think out loud. We want them to talk about what they're seeing communicate, right? Pre-snap second down 20 to the 30. As the play develops, Pass Runner makes it to the line of game. We may call that out. We've got a ball on the ground. I've got a ball on the ground, get the ruling on the field.

Dean Blandino (47m 20s):

And then we worked through that process Questions on any of that?

Dennis Barela (47m 28s):

I believe there's a question in the room

Joe Diz (47m 30s):

Dean this is Joe Diez is in Albuquerque. Can you hear me okay? Yeah, I can hear, um, I do have a couple of questions. I've been jotting down and I thought I better pipe in now, before and it's over. Um, so hi school and starting to go to more Otiose on the field with officials. Okay. And then Mexico has not really implemented it yet. However, we have started trying them.

Joe Diz (48m 0s):

And I think the very big picture since we're going to be using them. And I think the wave of the future is we will be using them soon. And then there's, I think most people are, are you don't penalize afraid of change. Right? The big thing is communication. When you were talking in the booth, when you guys are doing the communication to the Ref officials, you were having your own communication down and distance, et cetera. Right. You're just your normal routine.

Joe Diz (48m 36s):

Do you recommend, or what's your experience being on the field with the crew and talking, Hey, Don and distance is a clock is, you know, almost out, almost too much that can be sad. Or do you think it's pertinent to the whole crew is better than not saying it?

Dean Blandino (49m 2s):

Yeah. It's a great question. And look odor. Oh, has been, um, has been overall, it's been a positive and, and I do think at some point everybody's going to be using it as the technology continues to improve, but, and I'm sure, you know, Mike or anybody that has experience with it can, can tell you it can be a negative as well. You know, sometimes there is too much communication and, and so we, we certainly, we don't recommend having you on ODA.

Dean Blandino (49m 36s):

Oh, going through all of that and having everybody listening to your entire pre-snap routine. I think the value of Odo is the ability to communicate things more efficiently. Right. I don't have to run 30 yards to my referee to tell him the Flag of the file that I have and the number I can do that on Idaho. Then he can make out, she can make an announcement and, and we can just be more efficient because in all of this, right. Every level of football. Um, and I, and I don't think it's, this is critical in the high school game right now, but in college and certainly the NFL, they are looking at ways to reduce some of the downtime.

Dean Blandino (50m 18s):

Right. We did a study in 2016 of an NFL game. And that year, right, we average three hours and six minutes roughly per game. And only about 15 and a half minutes of that was actual football. So, Oh, does help. It helps with some of the efficiencies, but it also, it can become a crutch. And I've seen officials that rely too much on Odo and they go away from their preliminary state or they go away from the things that they would normally do, and they rely on Replay to almost help them when Replay, should just be focusing on what's reviewable.

Dean Blandino (51m 1s):

And it's like, anything else, the more tools we have I think about, you know, I told the story of me when I went home, my mom, I live in California. My mom lives in New York. I went on to visit her and, and, you know, I got, she's had the same car for 20 years and I got in her car and I was just backing up out of the driveway. And I, and I had a hard time backing up out of the driveway because I didn't have a rear view video camera. I didn't have a beep. I didn't have all of these bells and whistles. And sometimes I like an Odo with that.

Dean Blandino (51m 31s):

If we get too comfortable with it and we rely on Replay to help us and tell us where our officiating, our ability on the field is actually going to, it's going to degrade. So, so I think it can be a value. I think overall it's a positive and I think we got it. We got to manage it. And again, it comes down to communication, clear and concise communication is so important.

Joe Diz (51m 52s):

Thank you.

Ken Adent (51m 57s):

You guys, we promised Dean, we'd keep it to an hour or so a few more questions, please.

Joe Diz (52m 3s):

Hey, I have another question. If I'm Dennis isn't going to read the one in the chat room. My question Dean is, um, the booth is there for, uh, to help the integrity of the game in unique situations earlier, you said in the first quarter, if there's a mistake, you're not going to stop the game, my hand reveal it, right. Because it's an insignificant.... Right. Basically. So do you guys in the booth that we're comfortable, sorry, man.

Joe Diz (52m 36s):

Down to the crew and say, Hey, just FYI guys. That was, that was a, the wrong call or, or he was out of bounds. Or do you relay that or do you just make a note and talk to him then after the game? And if you Replay, I'm thinking it's probably better, even though the game flow does not stop And then their ear to put more attention maybe or what sort of costs, but on that. Yeah. It's, it's, it's a good question. And, and let me say this, when we talk about right, the three or four yard play, one of the things we teach our Replay officials, if it's

Dean Blandino (53m 8s):

Obvious and you're a hundred percent Sure you're going to change it, then stop the game and change. So, so, so we always fix the obvious one, but the three or four yard play where it's just questionable and they're not sure we're not, we don't want them to stop in the game and spending a minute and a half to try to determine that. So, so the obvious mistake they're going to stop now, I think to your other part of the question, you know, do they get in their ear? We typically tell them, you typically tell them not to get in their ear.

Dean Blandino (53m 38s):

If there is something negative, um, unless it's something pertinent they need to know going forward. But if we just, you know, if we missed a spot or we miss something rather than put that negative bug in that official's ear, and now they're now they're dwelling on it. We want to keep that communication as positive as possible. And we just, we honestly tell our Replay officials try to stay away from even an attaboy because unless it's something above and beyond, because what happens sometimes is one official we'll get the attaboy and it was a good call and that's a good quote.

Dean Blandino (54m 12s):

And then the other fish will make Paul and not get it. And they'll start to wonder, well, was that wrong? Did the, did I miss it? So we just try to stay away from those types of that type of communication and just deal with deal with fact, uh, because sometimes the Replay official, maybe the Replay visuals judgment, um, is often the official ones. Right. And we don't want to tell them that they were wrong when, when they were so, um, it's something that we have to manage. Thank you.

Ken Adent (54m 43s):

Dean this is Ken. I saw on a Wikipedia that you did some standup comedy. I saw, I have to go personal with it. Tell us about your standup comedy.

Dean Blandino (54m 53s):

Yeah, I did that, you know, that was something I did. I probably it's been about 10 years. Uh, it was never a career goal of mine. I did it as I was, I was working at the NFL and, uh, you know, I just did it on the side working and living in New York city's and there were a lot of comedy clubs and it's just something I enjoyed. And actually it really helped me in my career. When you think about public speaking, um, there, there, there isn't. Um, and I don't know if there's anybody that on the, on the, in the meeting that's done it, but there isn't a lot of situations in life that's more intimidating than stand up comedy and just getting up in front of a group of strangers with a microphone and trying to entertain them.

Dean Blandino (55m 36s):

And so that really prepared me for getting up in front of coaches and players and owners, uh, and, and talking to them and, and, and trying to, you know, at least make them see my point of view. So, so yeah, it was fun. Um, I enjoyed it. It was never a career goal of mine, but it definitely, like I said, a sense of humor is going to help you in this, in this industry. And that definitely helped me.

Ken Adent (56m 2s):

That's awesome. Appreciate you touching on that. Dana. Mike, would you like to see anything in closing?

Mike Contrezas (56m 8s):

Um, I will, uh, refer to one of the check questions out there because there was a question on chat and that was, um, is there an age cut off and what is the best way to let somebody know that they are interested in Replay? Yeah, no, look, there's, there's no age cutoff. Um, we, you know, we wanna, we want to draw from the biggest pool of people possible. That's the only way, and we want it to be inclusive.

Mike Contrezas (56m 40s):

Um, we want to try to get people from everywhere and that's the only way we're going to truly achieve that. So I think the easiest way is, is shoot me an email and, and my email's easy. It's, Dean dot Blandino at Gmail and shoot me an email. Um, I'm, I'm compiling. I have a list of, of perspective and people that are interested in, uh, and I'll work with college coordinators and maybe get you to a game to observe and then, and then see how you feel about that.

Dean Blandino (57m 11s):

And then maybe, maybe get you started with a college conference. So, um, send me an email and then, and then we'll go from there. Great. Alright. Thank you for your time, sir.

Joe Diz (57m 24s):

That's one more quick one. I know you've got to know Dean and thank you for your time. Joe Diz has an Albuquerque. Um, my question is in the booth and I have felt game and the touch a close. What is the most difficult part of the crew comes to you? And it goes to Replay. What is the hardest for you to rule on the cash? No cash and mountains out of bounds.

Joe Diz (57m 55s):

What is the most difficult one to look at?

4 (57m 57s):

Yeah, there's, you know, Replay was Replay was meant to deal with objective facts, right? The ball touching the ground, the foot hitting the side line, and it's really evolved beyond that. And once we got involved in catch, no catch, right. That's a subjective call at times control. Did he have it long enough? I think, I think that's, that's a challenging call at times. Um, but probably the one that honestly the one that gives Replay officials the most trouble. Um, and I, and I'm sure it's, it's, it's similar on the field is that, that spot at the sideline, um, you know, where that ball crossed, the, the sideline is so hard when you're dealing with, you know, you're talking about something that happens in, in a three dimensional world, and then you go to TV and you're trying to piece angles together.

Dean Blandino (58m 44s):

Um, so sort of a spot at the sideline, those are difficult to overturn because it's really tough to say exactly where that ball cross, um, you know, Latin again, probably in the college game, it makes about 10 up 10% of the reviews every year. So you do get involved in that quite a bit. And, uh, and I'd say that's probably one of the tougher ones. You're welcome.

Dennis Barela (59m 7s):

Hey Dea , before you go, this is for Dana and I, we're big Cowboys fans. Now, you don't have to answer it, but, uh, was it a catch, you know?

Dean Blandino (59m 21s):

Yeah. Everybody asks me that. And um, so under the rule at the time now, under the rule at the time, and this was actually, I, I, you know, I tell the story when, when it happened. So we were in the command center in New York and, and I have the headset on, and it's the only game. It's a playoff game, only game going on and I'm ready to go. And the play happens and I see the ball come out and I see our field judge, um, rule catch.

Dean Blandino (59m 58s):

And I just immediately, I start looking at the green Bay side and I'm waiting and waiting and waiting. And I see coach McCarthy throw the red flag and I, and I literally turned to the room and there's probably maybe 10, 15 people in the room. And I said, everybody get ready because the The S H I T is going to hit the fan. And, and I knew that this was going to be controversial. Um, I knew right away as we were looking at it, that, that under the rule at the time, it wasn't a catch. He was going to the ground and, and it didn't matter if he reached, he had to hold onto it when he hit the ground.

Dean Blandino (1h 0m 30s):

Um, but I knew it was going to be controversial. And, and obviously that's a play that everybody asks about and they they've since changed the rule. But, uh, you know, that's one that I'll always remember. And it's, it's definitely one I get asked about and cowboy fans are, are usually they're much nicer in person on, on, on social media. They're not very kind doing this.

Ken Adent (1h 0m 52s):

Dean, thank you so much for joining our webcast. Thank you for taking the time. I know your time is valuable and we appreciate it. No, thank you. Thanks for having me. And like I said, anybody feel free to shoot me an email and I'd love to talk more about Replay or anything else.

Dana Pappas (1h 1m 10s):

Hey, Hey, Dean, it's Dana. And I just wanted to say, thank you. And, uh, Dean and I have known each other for a number of years, and I just want to say that he's one of the most humble and down to earth people that I've ever met in this, in this profession. And it's certainly something that I value as our friendship over the years. And even though I'm a Dallas cowboy fan, I will tell you that the only thing I love more than the Dallas Cowboys are my family and my officials. So I had to actually tell him Replay it's and I catch under the rule.

Dana Pappas (1h 1m 43s):

So I probably lost friends who were Dallas fans, but I'm always gonna stick up for officials, even, even if they're not in NMOA officials, you gotta stick up for them. But thank you for spending your evening with us. Dean and I hoped to see it down the road.

Dean Blandino (1h 1m 54s):

Thank you Dana very much. And, and thank you everyone for taking the time and I truly appreciate it,

Ken Adent (1h 2m 2s):

Thank you, sir. God bless. Stay healthy.

Dean Blandino (1h 2m 3s):

You too. Bye guys.

Dana Pappas (1h 2m 5s):


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About the Podcast

Behind The Flag
Welcome to the Behind The Flag PodCast. We are a group of dedicated men and women who strive to provide professional high school football officiating; where we officiate high school football at all levels of play. We are New Mexico Football Officials certified through the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) and New Mexico Official Association (NMOA). If you are a fan of football and interested in learning a different aspect of the sport; please join us and become part of the experience.

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About your hosts


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Stay engaged with high school football officiating with two high school football officials discussing NFHS rules, film breakdown, mechanics and philosophy. Listen to experienced guest and mentors that will help you become a better official, understand rules, and be a better communicator.

Dennis Barela

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New Mexico High School Football Official, Central Region, Line Of Scrimmage.
DII Collegiate Football Official, Line of Scrimmage

Ken Adent

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New Mexico High School Football Official, Central Region, Back Judge.
DII Collegiate Football Official, Back Judge, Field Judge, Side Judge.