Masterson, Blubaugh officiating bowl games

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Courtesy Photo
Above, Joe Blubaugh runs along the sideline during a Big 12 game at Texas.

Register File Photo/Jocelyn Sheets
At left, John Masterson spots the football during a timeout at a Kansas State football game.

Officials also are rewarded for good seasons. Two southeast Kansas natives will be on college bowl game football fields New Year’s Day.
John Masterson Jr. and Joe Blubaugh were rewarded for their performances as Big 12 Conference football officials in 2009. They made the grade to be considered for one of four bowl games assigned to the Big 12 to officiate.
Masterson, who grew up here and graduated from Iola High School, completed his seventh year working Big 12 football games. Blubaugh, who graduated from Erie High School and is the grandson of the late Minnie and Oscar Blu-baugh of Iola, began working in Big 12 officiating ranks in 2005.
Blubaugh will be the field judge (the official on the pressbox sideline) for the Big 12 officiating crew in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday afternoon, when Ohio State and Oregon play each other.
“I was pretty excited about the assignment,” Blubaugh told the Register. “When the call came the Wednesday after the conference championship game, our supervisor asked me how I thought I did this year. I said I thought I had done pretty well. ‘So did we,’ he said, and told me I was on the Rose Bowl crew.”
Earlier Friday, Masterson will be the side judge (the official on the far sideline) for the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. in the game between Auburn and Northwestern, which kicks off at 10 a.m.
“This was my first year as a member of a regular Big 12 Conference crew,” Masterson said. “It’s very exciting to be among the conference officials chosen to work the four bowl games assigned to the Big 12 this year.”
Although the two men grew up in southeast Kansas, they didn’t know each other until they settled in the Kansas City, Kan., area. Masterson lives in Overland Park and Blu-baugh in Shawnee. They became acquainted because of football officiating.
“We both traveled the same route to get into Big 12 football officiating,” Masterson said. “We’ve become very good friends.”
Blubaugh grew up in the Erie and Chanute areas and went to school at Erie. He said his late mother Joan Blubaugh taught in the Erie school district for 33 years. After graduating from Erie High in 1993, Blubaugh went to Pittsburg State University to earn a degree in plastics engineering.
“I began officiating junior high football and basketball that fall and worked up into the high school ranks. I did a playoff football game when I was a senior at Pitt State,” Blubaugh said.
Blubaugh kept officiating southeast Kansas even after moving to Emporia and to Kansas City. In 2000, he began attending meetings in Topeka held by Phil Laurie, a Big 12 football official. He said Mark Laurie, a nephew of Phil, was an assistant football coach at EHS while Blubaugh was there, plus EHS head football coach Steve Oliver, now EHS principal, had a brother officiating NCAA Division II games.
“The meetings were for Big 12 officials and also for younger and lower level conference officials. I began working junior varsity NAIA conference games in the Heart of America and KCAC, then got onto an NAIA crew for two years. Then I moved into the MIAA (Pittsburg State’s conference) for two years,” Blubaugh said.
Blubaugh’s story is much like Masterson’s. Masterson graduated from Iola High in 1986 and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1990. Masterson was a teacher and coach and got his start officiating baseball in Iola during summers.
“We all worked our way up through the ranks — high school, small college. You begin networking with other officials,” Masterson said, who now works for an educational computer software company.

BLUBAUGH, who is in sales, said he began going to an officiating camp at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Both men worked Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri spring football games and kept networking.
Masterson worked a non-conference game at Nebraska in 2002, but no Big 12 games in 2003 or 2004. He got another game at Nebraska in 2005. In 2006, Masterson was one of 64 roster officials for the Big 12 Conference, working five games on four different crews.
Last year, Masterson worked games in the Southland Conference, an NCAA Division I-AA conference, a partner with the Big 12 for officials. Masterson was on the officiating crew for the 2008 NCAA Division I Championship Football game between Richmond and Montana.
“I worked the 2007 PapaJohns.com Bowl. Another official from the crew I was on all year will be at the Outback Bowl also. I’ve worked with all but one of the guys on the crew,” Masterson said.
Blubaugh said he worked 14 games this season and every game is evaluated by the conference.
For every foul he called, Blubaugh said he had to go online and explain what he saw and why he called it the way he did.
“We go to clinics and meetings throughout the year. The mandatory Big 12 clinic is in July in Dallas. That’s a four- to five-day meeting where we go over rule changes, take a written test and a physical test. We watch a ton of film,” Blubaugh said.
The Rose Bowl will be Blubaugh’s third bowl game. He worked the Poinsettia Bowl between TCU and Northern Illinois his second year as a Big 12 official and the New Mexico Bowl between New Mexico and Nevada.
Blubaugh is taking his wife, Dana, who is a recruiter for Pittsburg State in the Kansas City area, their two daughters, Morgan, 8, and Avery, 5, along with his wife’s parents to Pasadena. He said the Rose Bowl committee has activities for families and officials.
“On Friday, the families get to sit in the main grandstand to watch the Rose Bowl parade. As a crew, we will meet on Thursday and go over things and Friday we’ll go to the stadium about 10:30 a.m.,” Blubaugh said.
Blubaugh’s father and stepmother, Reuben and Barbara Blubaugh, live in Excelsior Springs, Mo., and he has aunts and uncles in Iola.
Masterson is the son of John and Georgia Masterson of Iola. He and his wife Lisa are in Florida and will take part in events surrounding the Outback Bowl. Masterson said their daughters, Kate, 9, and Mattie, 5, are in Iola with their grandparents.
“When we’re doing our jobs right, we don’t get on television. That’s what we want as officials. It’s an honor to be able to work the bowl games and enjoy the festivities,” Blubaugh said.