It’s only one game, one more football whistle stop. But for Albuquerque football official Scott Ashbaugh, it’s another chance to test himself.
Ashbaugh has been an official in the RMAC for six years, traveling the league’s highways which stretch from southern New Mexico to the western reaches of South Dakota.
But for at least one game in the 2013 football season, he will patrol the turf at a Mountain West Conference game.
It will be his first foray into Division I football, and he’s forbidden to say when and where it will take place. Suffice it to say it will come early in the season and involve a military service academy.
“The biggest difference being at the Division I level is the speed of the game,” says Ashbaugh, who has some experience in officiating D-I scrimmages.
The RMAC has a working relationship with the MWC and Big 12, among other leagues.
“The RMAC is a good stepping stone,” says Ashbaugh, whose day job is at Sandia Labs.
He’s also attended a camp in Reno, Nev., where D-I and NFL officials offer tips. It’s a place to learn and be seen.
Ashbaugh’s introduction to officiating began while watching his son play a YAFL game in Albuquerque some nine seasons ago.
“Another parent said, ‘Hey, we need officials and we’d love to have some parents come out and help,'” Ashbaugh says. “I played high school football and I missed being out on the field.”
So the former tight end/defensive end at a high school in Santa Maria, Calif., signed up.
Ashbaugh believes sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. To illustrate, he says he was officiating a YAFL game when a coach criticized a call.
“He was not happy and he gave me his opinion,” Ashbaugh says.
It turns out the guy was a Big 12 official coaching his son’s game. He liked the way Ashbaugh handled himself and suggested he might want to try officiating high school games.
“Things like that are not planned,” Ashbaugh says. “You never know who’s watching.”
Last season was Ashbaugh’s last at the high school level. He has a full RMAC slate this season and could pick up another MWC game or two.
He’s enjoyed his college experience.
“I find dealing with coaches at the college level, they’re very professional,” he says. “They may not like a call and they’ll ask a question. Occasionally they yell, get it off their chest, and move on.”
Ashbaugh says it’s all about who’s watching.
“You have to be really lucky and be at the right place at the right time,” he says. “There are a lot of officials, even in Albuquerque, who are very deserving at a chance at Division I. But sometimes a slot doesn’t open up and time passes. There are guys who have helped me, who are a lot better officials than I am, who never got the chance.”
NMHU: Linebacker Jared Koster and quarterback Emmanuel Lewis will represent the Cowboys at the RMAC media day today in Colorado Springs.
Koster was named first-team preseason All-American by USA College Football. He had 103 tackles last season, including 9 1/2 tackles for loss.
Lewis, a third-team preseason USA College All-American, was second in D-II in total offense per game with an average of 392.6 yards.
ENMU: The Greyhounds will play at Cowboys (now AT&T) Stadium for the second year in a row. Eastern will face Sul Ross State on Sept. 13.
Last year, Manzano grad Jayson Serda had an 81-yard TD interception return to help ENMU beat Incarnate Word 34-24.
WNMU: Western held camps last month in Las Vegas, Nev., San Diego and in the Los Angeles area.
… Ex-Mustang wide receiver Rod Windsor helped the Arizona Rattlers to the best record in the Arena League this season. He has 110 catches and 42 touchdowns for the defending champs. He was in camp with the Cleveland Browns last preseason.