It’s Official: From ‘olden days’ until present day

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

You will recall that last week I wondered about SEC football official Rick Loumiet officiating the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game at the referee position.

Rick is listed in the SEC roster as a back judge. I was advised by SEC official Grant Jackson of Conway, Ark., that Rick is working half of this season’s assignments as a referee and the remainder as back judge.

It is likely Loumiet will move permanently to the referee position next season. It is not unusual for an official to begin his college officiating career at another position before moving over to referee.

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In the olden days (my time), all football-playing colleges had freshman or junior varsity teams that played a six- or seven-game schedule. Officials new to the college game had plenty of assignments to those games and were able to gain that valuable experience before moving up.

Since freshmen became eligible for varsity play and squads were forced to reduce in size, any official who moves up to a major college conference must come ready to strap it on. The SEC, and probably most major conferences, now require an official have at least four years officiating experience at some level of college play.

Freshman football was not the only exposure newer officials got to varsity competition. Assignments as electric clock operator meantan official was part of the game crew, went through all of the pre-game conference and not only could watch older officials at work but had to maintain a high level of concentration.

Occasionally the clock operator had to take the place of an injured on-field official, so they needed to be familiar with all of the other official’s duties.

I mentioned new SEC official Grant Jackson had cleared up my question about Rick Loumiet. Grant’s dad, Doyle Jackson, who also lives in Conway, was a longtime referee who retired after last year.

Doyle now serves the conference as a replay official.

In my SEC career I was happy to officiate with several father-son officials, though I don’t recall being on the field with both father and son at the same game. I officiated with both Butch Lambert Sr. and Jr. and do know the Lamberts did officiate a game or two together before Lambert Sr. retired and not long after died of ALS.

Bob Aillet of Shreveport and Bob Jr., who lives in Monroe, did not overlap to my knowledge, but I did officiate with both of them. George Morris and his son, Gus, both officiated at the head linesman position, so I did not have the opportunity to officiate together.

Again, I officiated with both George and Gus. Ted Thomas, a long-time back judge, now has two sons on the SEC roster. Lane Thomas is a head linesman, and younger brother Greg is a back judge.

I don’t believe Greg is on a regular crew, so I don’t know if they have officiated a regular season game together. Their father, Ted, was an observer through last season.

There have been many other legacies, most before my time, but I don’t recall all of them.

And that’s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at