In the world of sports, which is filled with pageantry, spectacle and uncertainty, the referees are the select few who maintain order — or at least attempt to. They are faced with difficult decisions in every game that they call and are always subjected to extreme scrutiny.

George Mason University’s Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens has taken the bulk of the scrutiny in his 21 years as a Division I NCAA football official.

“Sports have always been a big part of my life,” Scherrens said. “I played sports through high school but wasn’t good enough to play any sports in college. A neighbor officiated sports and he got me interested in it. And once I started, I got hooked on it.”

Scherrens began officiating basketball and football in a career that has spanned 30 years.

“The progression from 8- and 10-year-olds, through junior high, JV, high school was about eight years or so, and then I worked Division III for a few years before Division I,” Scherrens said. “You’ve got to work your way up and, to be honest, you’ve got to be lucky. Somebody’s got to see you and like the way you officiate and then you get a break and that’s up to you.”

Scherrens caught his break in 1990 when he started in Division I. After his start in the Big East Conference, he has been calling games in Conference USA for the past 13 years as a head linesman. In that role, he is responsible for ruling false starts, offsides, neutral zone infractions, forward progress on running plays, pass interference and fumbles around the line of scrimmage.

“As head linesman, I listen to the coach the whole game,” Scherrens said. “I’m on the sideline and I’m on the line of scrimmage. So I’ve got the coach telling me throughout the game everything he likes and doesn’t like about the way we’re officiating.”

In the offseason, referees undergo training clinics run by a supervisor who has been an NFL official for at least 30 years and his assembled staff of current NFL officials. There is a combination of off-field training in the classroom and on-field training, where the trainers walk through plays and the different coverages that they want in different scenarios.

“There is a lot of film review. The NCAA puts together film review and the NFL puts together film review. The instructor will tell you what he likes or doesn’t like,” Scherrens said. “You have to have thick skin because every play is evaluated by someone in the press box. So there’s an evaluator for every game and that evaluator on Saturday or Sunday sends the DVD with all his comments to an off-the-field evaluator. Every official gets graded. On Tuesday or Wednesday you get an email with your grade. Friday you review the previous week’s game and how to do better in the future.”

The typical week of an NCAA referee is standard except for on the weekend. On Sunday, after the game, each official puts all of their comments in about calls that they made, so when the grader grades the game he has access to the comments. On Friday afternoon, a crew of seven officials flies to the city where the game will be taking place and must arrive between 5 and 6 p.m.

The crew works together for the entire season. That night, the crew will do a pregame overview where they talk about