From: "Rich Kollen" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tuesday, September 08, 2016
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
2016 WEEKLY BULLETIN #2
Week 1 is in the books, and many learning opportunities from the first games have been passed on to the officials. Through video and familiarity with the NCAA rules, officials need to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of other officials. That is the purpose of these bulletins.
The first week there were a lot of fouls, but most were in the nature of false starts, offside, and illegal formations, which can be expected early in the season, and are gradually fixed by the coaching staffs. For newer officials working on the line of scrimmage, remember that the defense can move into the neutral zone short of contact and move back before the snap without committing a foul, provided they don't cause a reaction by a protected lineman. (Rule 7-1-5) Another difference from high school, during a kickoff, the ball breaking the plane of the goal line remains live, provided the receivers touch it before it touches the ground in the end zone. The receivers can return kicks from the end zone. If the kick hits the ground in the end zone prior to being touched by the receivers, it needs to be blown dead. (Rule 6-1-7)
The biggest complaint I received last week is the typical problem that arises every year: lack of communication with head coaches. In addition, I received complaints about trash talking and possible zero tolerance violations. At the clinic, we discussed the importance of communication with coaches. If a Referee thinks members of his crew struggle with communication, coach them up or do it yourself. With respect to the trash talking and zero tolerance issues, if we are not addressing poor behavior early in the season, it will get worse. The commissioner and I will support you for addressing these areas of game management.
I realize I am old school, but I want every official to mirror timeout signals every time the clock should be stopped. On every 4th down play, I need to see seven officials killing the clock (either for a first down or a turnover on downs). This will help the clock operators (some stadiums make it hard to see), and I think it will be good for our game. It also keeps the officials "in the game."
In reading evaluations, the two things that stood out from Week 1 were mechanics and signals. In addition to missing timeout signals, we have had inadvertent windings of the clock, dropped relays of the ball, bad spots, and prolonged discussions on penalty enforcement. These might seem cosmetic, but we lose credibility with the coaches and fans when we have unnecessarily long conferences and our signals and mechanics are shabby. Crew chiefs need to give this special emphasis during the pregame this week. Appearance is everything! Crews who look good are considered to be better officials, whether that is true or not.
Chain crews are vital to a successfully administered football game. Athletic Directors, please ensure that you have four adults available at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff, and make sure they check in with the Head Linesman and Line Judge 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Officials, always assume that this is the chain crew's first game. Instruct them with professionalism and respect. No cell phones should ever be used by the chain crew during the game.
Coaches, players, and officials have done a good job eliminating the dangerous act of targeting. Unfortunately, our officials only have one chance to get it right. There is no replay to help. Officials have been instructed to seek opinions of other officials to get it correct. The commissioner can review a targeting call in the second half and remove the next game first half suspension, if warranted. Coaches sent in a few targeting plays that I think were cheap shots, but not targeting. (Review Rules 9-1-3 and 9-1-4, especially the "indicators of targeting")
Knee pads are mandatory equipment, but it is only "strongly recommended" that they cover the knees. (Rule 1-4-4-d) I don't know what discussion at the rules meeting led to that wording, but we don't make the rules. We merely enforce them.
Many of our crews have purchased radios to talk to each other during the game. They have been used at the major college level and the NFL for a few years. The hope is that it will help speed up penalty enforcement and get information to the head coaches. It will be a learning process for our officials and is working successfully at the higher levels of football. All that said, do not let the radios be an excuse to change mechanics or good signals or eliminate necessary conferences.
The debate about using the whistle at the end of every play has been ongoing for years. I know the fear of the inadvertent whistle, but a whistle must be blown at the end of each play. I realize the large majority of plays are over by rule, but coaches teach players to play to the whistle, and a good whistle will aid in dead-ball officiating.
A coach sent a video showing two dead-ball late hits that were not penalized. We need to become better dead-ball officials and remember our antennas should especially go up during kicking plays because special teams' players tend to be a little more aggressive.
If you watch a lot of professional golf, notice what happens on the 18th green at the conclusion of the round. Players remove their hats when shaking hands. This is done to show respect for the game and fellow golfers. To show respect to the game of football and our head coaches, please remove your hats when shaking the coach's hand and introducing yourself before games.
I need to warn officials each year that what you say to a coach can always be misquoted and/or misinterpreted. Remember silence can never be misquoted. Don't stop communicating, but remain 100% professional. When discussing rules in depth with a coach, make sure to have two officials present.
Netflix recently aired a six-part documentary on community college football called "Last Chance U." It highlights East Mississippi, Community College which had won the national junior college championship the previous year. If the sportsmanship and degrading language to officials and players are any indication of what is happening in junior college football nationally, California needs to be commended. Even before our zero tolerance policy, we have never permitted the behavior depicted in the documentary. Coaches and schools, keep up the good work!
Good luck this weekend. Safe Travels!
Director of Football Operations
Southern California Football Association