After 29 seasons and thousands of miles logged through the air and by car, Bob Rose has had enough.
He will referee his final college football game on Saturday when Central Washington University travels to the Redwood Bowl in Arcata, Calif., to face Humboldt State in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship Game.
“I’ve done basketball since 1972 and high school football since ’75, but I didn’t get the chance to work college football games until 1988,” the 69-year-old Rose said. “I’m all done officiating basketball games, but I’m going to continue working local high school (football) games.”
Tom Cross of Tacoma became the assigning official for the GNAC, and liked the idea of Rose living in a central location between the conference schools.
“I worked with Tom in college basketball, and he invited me to start officiating in football,” he said.
When Rose started working college games, each town had its own officials to work each game.
“As time went on, they wanted neutral officials so an association was formed,” he said. “It put an end to home cooking.”
Burnout played a key role in Rose’s retirement decision.
“You have road trips every weekend for college games,” he said. “As Crew Chief, my week starts with a conference call on Sunday followed by breaking down film. On Wednesday, we’d send information to the schools.”
Rose’s performance in GNAC games earned him the opportunity to officiate at the national level. In fact, he’s the only college football official in history to serve as referee for the NCAA Division II (2016), Division III (2009) and NAIA (2013) National Championship games.
“Bob has that special something that gives everyone confidence that the game will be worked right,” said Mike Burton, Supervisor of College Football Officials for NCAA DII, DIII, NAIA and Junior Colleges on the West Coast, in a news release.
“When he came in the room at the pregame meeting last December in Kansas City, the pressure went out of the room. He is so well-respected, and he forms relationships with people.”
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Burton recalled an incident from Rose following a recent championship game in Kansas City.
“Bob had his crew send Northwest gift baskets to the guys there who assisted his crew,” he said. “I am so proud of having had the pleasure to assign and watch him work. Bob’s a class act and will be very tough to replace.”
Rose has a treasure trove of memories from his years of toiling on the road.
“I worked a game which featured current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on one of the sidelines,” he said. “He was on his way up, but you could tell he knew his stuff. He was a really nice guy.”
One of his best memories is working the 2013 NAIA National Championship game in Rome, Ga., with fellow local officials Eric Cheatley and Bryan Keatley.
“One of the coolest things that I’m most proud of is having three local guys working the national title game,” Rose said. “We had six calls go to replay, and we nailed every one of them. They were really on their ‘A’ game, and it made for a special day.”
Rose also recalled working with Cheatley in last year’s title game.
“We didn’t have one play reviewed,” he said. “You watch all of the Division I and pro games, and there’s replays after nearly every play. It felt really good to go an entire game and get it all right.”
Rose will remain busy as the area’s football and basketball officials assigner, along with spending time with his wife, Jeri, and their children and grandchildren.
“When we first met I was gone quite a bit, but now she enjoys it,” he said with a chuckle. “She fills her time with the grandkids, and they’re all there when I get home.”
You can watch Rose working Saturday’s Central Washington-Humboldt State matchup beginning at 1 p.m. Visit www.hsujacks.com/schedule.aspx?schedule=151 and scroll down the calendar. At the listing for the Central matchup, click Watch.