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MailTribune.com
  • Local officiates in Monday's BCS title game

    Talent Middle School principal Aaron Santi worked as side judge
  • Who was Alabama head football coach Nick Saban barking at late in Monday's BCS title game?
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  • Who was Alabama head football coach Nick Saban barking at late in Monday's BCS title game?
    "I was the one he was screaming at," says Aaron Santi, a 38-year-old principal at Talent Middle School who was part of the officiating crew at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
    So what was Saban saying?
    "Lots of things," says Santi, adding that he is not at liberty to say much more than that.
    Santi, who has been a Pac-10/Pac-12 official for 10 years, got the opportunity to work as a side judge after being ranked No. 1 at his position among league officials this season. It was also the Pac-12's turn out of the six BCS conferences to officiate the championship.
    "It was pretty awesome," Santi says of the experience. "It was pretty loud, it was pretty electric. Both fan bases were still really energized early on."
    The 1993 Mount Shasta High School graduate began officiating local high school games when he was 18 and worked his way up. He's since worked nine straight bowl games, including two Sugars Bowls and a Cotton Bowl.
    Santi approached Monday's contest like any other, he said. His duties commonly include making rulings on pass interference, illegal blocks downfield and incomplete passes, being responsible for either the game clock or the play clock and, during field-goal attempts, serving as a second umpire.
    "Once we kicked off and got going it wasn't any different than any other game, which is always the case," he says.
    Santi officiated on the Alabama sideline (at the top of your TV screen) and did not throw a single flag during the Crimson Tide's 42-14 rout of the Fighting Irish. All in all, Alabama was called for four penalties and Notre Dame three.
    "It's fairly unusual," he says of not calling any penalties. "Out of the 11 games I did during the season, there might have been two with no penalties. There wasn't a lot going on that way, but I had several difficult judgments with catches near the sidelines."
    Santi noted two cases where a little extra attention was needed: An incomplete pass attempt by quarterback Everett Golson on Notre Dame's first offensive series and Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix's interception to start the third quarter.
    "They reviewed it but didn't stop the game," Santi says. "I think fans don't realize every play gets reviewed."
    With around five minutes to go in the championship game, Saban could be seen on television yelling at Santi.
    "I'll explain fouls and answer questions, so oftentimes I'll bare the brunt of coaches' frustrations," says Santi, who also serves as a field liaison.
    Overall, Santi was happy with he and his crew's effort.
    "I felt really good about it," he said. "I thought our crew had a really good game and I thought I had a solid game, too."
    Santi arrived in Florida on Friday afternoon and was home by late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he was back in the office at Talent Middle School.
    He said his friends and family saw him on TV a few times during interactions with coaches and sideline catches, but Santi says he's used to it.
    "I don't think about it much," he says.
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com
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