Skip to main content

Terry Leyden ’78 Officiates at NCAA Playoff Championship

It doesn't get any bigger than tonight's NCAA college football playoff national championship. The top two teams in college football will collide at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendale, Arizona, just hours after the sun goes down. Inside that cauldron and under the brightest of floodlights, cheered on by more than 70,000 fans, Clemson University and the University of Alabama will battle it out.

Last year's final drew an estimated 33.4 million viewers to ESPN, and this season's final is expected to do similar - if not stronger - numbers. A truly gigantic event, it is the biggest night in college football.

One man, CC's own Terry Leyden '78 - the referee in the white hat accompanied by his team of officials - will be at the center of it all. Terry will be the official conducting the coin toss and announcing the penalties. He's been refereeing college football since 1986, and Monday's game will cap his 29th season of major collegiate refereeing.

"I'm very, very excited - and a little anxious," Terry says. "It's the pinnacle achievement of a college officiating career; everything about this game is huge."

Growing up in a sporting family, Terry's father refereed high school and college football. "I saw the passion he had for it, how much he loved it, so my own involvement felt like a natural progression," Terry says.

Beginning his career in the fall of his senior year, Terry referred high school football from 1977 until 1986, when he stepped up to the college level. Working with smaller colleges, including CC, until 1995, Terry then joined the staff of the Western Athletic Conference. Following this, he worked with the Mountain West Conference until 2011, when he joined the Pac-12, the conference home to more NCAA national team championships than any other.

"Being a referee gives me the opportunity to be around and involved with the game without having to be a world-class athlete," Terry says. "It has given me the chance to stay in touch with the game I love so much."

A two-sport athlete at CC, playing both football and lacrosse, Terry graduated in 1978 with his degree in biology. "I was really interested in wildlife biology, and anticipated returning to school after a few years of working," Terry says. With a wry laugh, he adds, "That was 36 years ago!"

Since his graduation, Terry has been working in the employment recruitment and search industry, focusing on the scientific fields. Currently helping environmental and product safety scientists from across the country with their recruitment prospects, Terry has taken his collegiate scientific passions into his professional life. Founding The Leyden Group in 2003, Terry now - in his own words - "lives science vicariously through recruitment, just as I live football vicariously on the weekends."

Tonight, CC will be front and center in front of millions - watching, engaging, learning, listening, and deciding. As a CC grad, and proud Tiger, Terry wouldn't have it any other way.

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/16/2020