From: "Rich Kollen" - email@example.com
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2008
After two weeks of games, the observers and coaches' reports have been very positive. These weekly bulletins are simply intended to communicate some issues as they come up, all in the never-ending pursuit of perfection. Thank you for continuing your commitment to the SCCFOA.
This was written by Walt Anderson, Big 12 Coordinator of Officials and NFL Referee. It is one of the best pieces I have seen on this tough subject:
When we have a runner score and he tosses the ball into the air, we feel that you have to make a judgment related to the intent of the actions of the player and also the spirit and intent of the rules. There are few rules that can be applied without judgment, so let's be sure we understand both the letter and intent of rules. There are numerous rules that are officiated by philosophy, spirit and intent rather than the literal language in which a rule is written. We would not penalize a player who, in coming off the field removes his helmet 3 yards from entering the team area; while literally a violation of rule, that is not a common sense application of the intent of the rule. Unsportsmanlike actions by players is a point of emphasis this year, but there is often a fine line between spontaneous and appropriate celebration and celebration with the added intent to draw attention to oneself. You may be asked about certain plays that have drawn public comments, and our policy is that we will not comment publicly on either our own or other plays. We expect our officials to administer the rules fairly and consistently, but also want to apply common sense where actions clearly do not violate the spirit and intent, especially as related to allowing players to celebrate good plays with other players who participated in making that good play. Players who come off the bench are not afforded the same latitude as those who participated in the play, and those types of demonstrations will carry the appropriate penalty
I simply ask everyone to use some common sense when it comes to unsportsmanlike penalties for celebrations.
Kick Catch Interference
Continue to be aware of kicking team players contacting defenseless punt returners before they have had an opportunity to complete a catch. If an official judges that a K player is not breaking down, and deems that the contact is an attempt to punish the punt returner, this could be kick catching interference (if the contact occurs prior to the returner having an opportunity to complete the catch), as well as a personal foul that could include an ejection. Even though the contact may be a "legal" hit (i.e. the K player does not launch himself, or he leads with a helmet or forearm to the head or throat area), if the contact is before or during the attempt to complete the catch and it is deemed that the K player intended to punish the punt returner, we will support an ejection. The punt returner is one of the most defenseless players on the field, and therefore, he deserves some protection. Coaches, please instruct your players about this very serious act on a totally defenseless player. Officials are hereby instructed to eject any player that commits a violent hit deemed to be punishing this defenseless player.
Here was a situation last week: K "pooched" a free kick into the air about twenty yards downfield, and the ball was caught by K player. The crew ruled kick catching interference and gave the ball to R at the spot of the foul. Know the difference between high school and college. In college: (1) it is not kick catch interference if there is no R in a position to catch the kick (the ball is dead and belongs to K); and (2) if it is kick catching interference (K contacts R or alters R's course to the ball), a 15-yard penalty applies from the spot of the foul.
Kickoff Out of Bounds
When a free kick goes out of bounds, untouched by R, be sure that the coach is aware that there is the potential for three different succeeding spots in connection with this penalty. However, remember that we can only enforce one penalty option. A kickoff out of bounds at the R36 yard line will, in effect, eliminate the 40 yard line because R could elect to tack on the 5-yard penalty from the spot where the kick goes out of bounds and take the ball 1st & 10 at the R41 yard line. R always has to the option to penalize 5 yards and re-kick. What we must never do is to take a kickoff out of bounds at, say, the R20 and move the ball to the R40 and also add the 5-yard penalty. The act of moving the ball to the R40 is one of the enforcement options - you can't have two enforcements. Slow down to make sure you know the rule before enforcing it.
Another situation: Before the game, a coach asked the officials about a play that he wanted to use, involving a tackle eligible on a punt formation. The Referee informed the coach that in a scrimmage-kick formation with a player more than 7-yards in the back field, the numbering exception applies to all players on the line. He told the coach that, therefore, the tackle position is not required to be numbered between 50 thru 79. However, if the player is covered, it is irrelevant what his number is, he is ineligible by rule and cannot catch a forward pass. Good job by this crew. The coach did not run the play that game, but please be aware of the situation. The coach may use it later when he finds a crew that he thinks won't know the rules. Umpires, know the numbers of the ineligible players in a scrimmage-kick formation.
Remember that if you focus and concentrate it is just as easy to get a call correct and much more rewarding.
There were a couple of plays that officials shut down when B was in the neutral zone. I know many of you work on Friday nights too. However, please know the differences in the rules. The NCAA rule does not kill a play for B being offside unless (1) B creates contact, (2) B causes the movement of a threatened A player, or (3) the officials rule that the quarterback or kicker are in danger. We don't have the NFL's "unabated to the quarterback" rule, but I encourage you to shut down a play in this situation. There is nothing good that can result with a player running "unabated" toward the quarterback or kicker. (See AP 7-1-5 III, FI 39-40). However, if we don't have any of the situations above, this is a live-ball foul on B.
Thank you, and good luck this week! Remember T-E-A-M: Together Everyone Accomplishes More.
Director of Football Operations