For former BYU baseball coach/NCAA hoops referee, Big Dance dreams aren’t just for the teams


San Diego State guard Darrion Trammell argues with official Mike Littlewood during game against New Mexico, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. in Albuquerque, N.M. Littlewood, the former BYU baseball head coach, officiated a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Omaha, Nebraska, but that’s where his postseason journey ended. | Eric Draper, Associated Press

When former BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood returned to officiating college basketball games in 2022, he had one goal in mind — get back to the Big Dance. The NCAA Tournament isn’t just where coaches and players want to be, it is also the granddaddy of them all for the men and women wearing the stripes.

“It’s the same. It’s the same thing,” Littlewood told the “Y’s Guys” podcast. “I’ve coached a lot of what I think were really big baseball games and had been to an NCAA regional, but on the officiating side, there is nothing that I’ve ever experienced in athletics that is as special as March Madness.”

When Littlewood took the floor to call the March 21 NCAA Tournament game between Iowa State and South Dakota State in Omaha, Nebraska, he closed a gap that had grown 12 years wide. His last tournament game as an official, just prior to taking the coaching job in 2012, was an Elite Eight matchup between Michigan State and Louisville.

As with this year’s field of 68 tournament teams, including BYU, Littlewood had to qualify to get back there.

Earning your way in

The NCAA Tournament hires 100 referees from a nationwide pool of 500 to work the Big Dance. Each one is highly scrutinized throughout the season.

“We are evaluated every single game, including every single play by two or three different people,” Littlewood said. “Ultimately, there is the NCAA Selection Committee and the Coordinator of Officials who decide who gets in. They email you for the first game and call you back after that.”

Littlewood officiated the Iowa State-South Dakota State game and that’s where his tournament run ended.

Swallowing the…

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Author : Deseret News

Publish date : 2024-04-03 17:13:31

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