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HomeGrown: Rocky Goode, SEC Replay Official

6:56 PM, Aug 21, 2012   |    comments
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"You smell the grass. You hear the fans."

For two decades, Rocky Goode lined up in the backfield with a front row seat to SEC football.

"Oh, it's intense. I've seen so many snaps that it's not Tennessee verses Alabama, it's offense verses defense. It's kicking team verses receiving team."

Now, he has a bird's eye view of the game. And, in the replay booth, Rocky watches every play like a hawk.

"You get to watch the play twice in 10 seconds."

And, when something's off, Rocky hits a red button which leads to some of the most famous words in college football.

"The previous play is under further review."

Rocky and his replay team go to work, reviewing every camera angle searching for indisputable video evidence.

"We hope it's less than a minute 20 seconds.. that's when the fans, I think, lose patience."

Given his name, it's no surprise Rocky loves sports. You see, he arrived three weeks early as his dad listened to a Rocky Marciano fight on the radio.

"They said, 'He must be a little fighter, let's name him Rocky.'"

At Bearden High, Rocky played basketball, football and even ran track.

"I guess my body was more adapted to football."

He was recruited by nearly all the SEC and ACC schools.

"I actually committed to Alabama."

It was hard to say no to Coach Bear Bryant.

"You stick your hand out and say, yes, Sir. When I got home and told my parents I'd committed to Alabama, they weren't too happy about it."

So Rocky stayed home in Big Orange Country playing for Coach Bill Battle.

"I loved Tennessee football."

After college, Rocky started officiating high school games.

"I liked it immediately and I had a little bit of talent."

In '88, he became a substitute official for the SEC. Then, the Southern Conference picked him up.

"I was really lucky."

In '96, he joined the SEC stripes full-time all while continuing his day job in the insurance business.

And, he's had quite a career, even a year inside the NFL booth.

"I was really lucky; CBS wanted to have someone in the booth with Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist so that they would not make erroneous, false statements about the rules."

Speaking of those rules...

"What makes them complicated are the exceptions to the rules."

167 exceptions to be exact.

"We study year round. Our study really gets intense in about April."

By fall, the stripes team can't wait to take the field.

"When we get to the game site we really turn on our focus and get our game face on."

And Rocky has several pregame traditions.

"I still say a prayer during the National Anthem."

And that prayer continues as the clock winds down.

"How safe do you think the officials, the seven on the field, the alternate feel when they run through that tunnel to get in the van after a controversial call and people are yelling and screaming at them?"

The rowdiest stadium?

"In the SEC, they're all pretty intense."

Football has cut into some family time.

"You can't do this without support at home."

From his wife,

"She's learned to be very patient with me."

... and children to the youngest man in his life.

"He knows me as his Rocky Pop."

So, how much longer will he do this?

"Till it's no longer fun. I still get butterflies."

Rocky Goode. Born in Knoxville.

"We've got such great tradition here."

Homegrown in Tennessee.

Because of his ties as a player and fan, Goode is not allowed to officiate Tennessee games.

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