And yet the first day of 2014 will be momentous for Stricherz, because it will be the last day he does what he loves. After 35 years as a Pac-12 official, he’s stepping down.
Stricherz, retired from an occupation where he imposed rules of a different kind — he was a school administrator in Tacoma for 31 years — didn’t always yearn to wear the black-and-white stripes associated with those trusted to maintain law and order amid the chaos of high-speed collisions. The 1965 Franklin Pierce graduate played football through high school before realizing his best chance to stay in the game was as a whistle blower, following in the footsteps of his dad.
“It must have been in my blood, in my DNA” Stricherz said last week as he was preparing to travel to Orlando, Fla., where the referee will serve as chief of the nine-man crew of Pac-12 officials who’ve been assigned the Capital One Bowl. The contest between Wisconsin and South Carolina, among six college games on a busy Jan. 1 schedule, will be Stricherz’ 21st bowl appearance.
Pac-12 football officiating has been mocked regularly the past few weeks, but we're going to have to find a new poster boy. Stricherz has been the easiest one to identify with his signature glasses and his distinct, Jeremy Irons-type prose when announcing his officiating decisions. His occasional confusion and deliberate mannerisms have also made him easily identifiable and made him a fan of the Internet.
He even had a Twitter account, which will hopefully live on because it is the stuff of legends. You know you've made it when the Internet embraces you for your genuine magnificence.
These guys are making me proud. Throwing flags to negate big plays. Nothing better.— Glasses Ref (@GlassesRef) January 2, 2014
These refs are awesome! Make sure there is a flag on every huge play. #RoseBowl— Glasses Ref (@GlassesRef) January 2, 2014
Two flags on one play. Gotta bring out the big guns on New Year's Day bowl games. #refsrule— Glasses Ref (@GlassesRef) January 1, 2014
As for Stricherz himself, we have to close this magnificent chapter of Pac-12 officiating. I'm not quite sure what we'll be able to do without him. He's been with us for so long, I'm not sure exactly how to cope with his loss, but I just hope he'll be okay in retirement.