John O'Neill, BCS Championship Game Referee, is a St. Rita High Alumnus

By Justin Breen on January 6, 2014 6:24am 

 St. Rita High School graduate John O'Neill, who led the school to a football state championship in 1978, will be the referee at Monday's BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn. O'Neill, of Evergreen Park, is St. Rita's director of institutional advancement.
St. Rita High School graduate John O'Neill, who led the school to a football state championship in 1978, will be the referee at Monday's BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn. O'Neill, of Evergreen Park, is St. Rita's director of institutional advancement.
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Flickr/Steve Schar

ASHBURN — John O'Neill, who will be the referee for Monday night's BCS Championship Game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn, is a St. Rita man through and through.

O'Neill graduated from the Southwest Side Catholic high school in 1979. His father, Bill, is a St. Rita alumnus, as are O'Neill's two sons, Danny and Mike. Plus, O'Neill was hired by the school in 2013 to serve as its director of institutional advancement.

O'Neill, who was a captain on St. Rita's first IHSA state championship football team in 1978, has been a Big Ten official since 2001. He has worked many big games before, including the 2009 Orange Bowl and 2012 Big Ten Championship Game, but Monday will be his first time as the head zebra on college football's biggest stage.

The game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., will air on ESPN. Florida State (13-0), led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, is an 8½-point favorite over Auburn (12-1), which needed miracle finishes against Georgia and Alabama to reach the title game.

O'Neill, a longtime Southwest Side resident, now lives in Evergreen Park. He was unavailable for comment.

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