From: "Rich Kollen" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Friday, September 18, 2015
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
2015 WEEKLY BULLETIN #3
Every other Sunday night, I conduct a conference call with our Referees. Last Sunday night, we had a good call during the Cowboys/Giants NFL game. We discussed the Referee's role as the crew chief and leader. As the called ended, I watched the NFL game being refereed by Bill Vinovich. Bill was also the Referee for last year's Super Bowl. He started his football officiating career as a member of our organization, honing his skills on our campuses. If you watched the game, it was full of challenging calls. Bill epitomizes the role of crew chief. There was no doubt who was in charge. Our Referees could learn a lot from the performances of all NFL Referees, especially ones who came through, and continue to assist, our association.
In a recent game, the offense substituted one player with 21 seconds on the play clock. The defense started their process of substituting within three seconds, but the coach changed his mind, sending in a different player. In the confusion, the Referee and Umpire did not allow the snap, resulting in a delay penalty against the offense. Referees need to allow a reasonable time to complete the substitution process by the defense. If the defensive coach changes his mind, that is on them. The offense shouldn't be penalized for such a change of heart. The offense should have been allowed to snap the ball.
Football is a game full of emotion. Coaches need to keep players off the field and in their team area after an exciting scoring play. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by a team entering the field to celebrate is 15 yards and can be enforced on the try or the next kickoff. Officials can also help by using a big stop sign...preventive officiating! NCAA rules prohibit a player from bringing attention to himself after a big play; celebrate with your teammates. Don't get too picky on this. Remember that these are very talented athletes with a lot of emotion. Let them celebrate, but penalize anything that clearly crosses the line.
An eligible receiver can be legally blocked until the ball is thrown. We do not have "illegal contact" under NCAA rules (unlike the NFL). Remember, a defensive player may ward off or legally block an eligible receiver until that player occupies the same yard line as the defender, or until the opponent could not possibly block him. Rule 9-3-4(e). The defender cannot hold the receiver, but may block him. Once the ball is in the air, THEN the defense cannot contact an eligible receiver beyond the neutral zone with the intent to impede the opponent from receiving a pass. Rule 7-3-8(c). An eligible receiver cannot be blocked below the waist beyond the neutral zone (one-yard beyond) until a forward pass is no longer possible by rule (and then, can only be blocked low within five yards beyond and behind the neutral zone, on a sweep play for example). Rule 9-1-6(b).
A couple of officials have confused high school rules with NCAA rules. If you are going to make a mistake, make it in your high school games, not college games! In the NCAA, a defensive player can cross the line of scrimmage and retreat without a foul, provided the action does not cause a reaction from a threatened offensive player. On a free kick, the kicking team may cross the scrimmage line, and if they get back before the kick, there is no penalty. If they do not get back, it is a live-ball penalty, not dead-ball. If you send a player off due to his exhibiting symptoms of a concussion, that player must remain out of the game for at least one down, but can return to the game with the approval of professional medical personnel designated by his institution. Officials are not tasked with getting written approval or speaking with the medical staff. If the coach sends the player back in, the officials will assume that the player has received approval of the professional medical personnel as required by Rule 3-3-5(a)(2).
ADs: With all of the media attention on deflated footballs, please instruct your equipment personnel to have a measuring and inflating device available for officials at least two hours before the game. Officials need to be checking balls before each game. Remember that officials approve game balls, not the ball personnel. Officials, make sure to instruct the ball personnel that the balls should go from officials to the ball personnel, and vice-versa, never to a player or coach, from the time the game starts until the time it is over.
If a defensive player's helmet comes off, the play clock needs to be reset to 40 seconds any time during the game. The old rule under one minute no longer applies. 40 seconds for the defense, and 25 seconds for the offense, at any time during the game. Under one minute, a 10-second runoff is possible. Therefore, it is possible that, with the clock stopping at 0:49 in the fourth quarter for a helmet coming off a defensive player, the offense may not have to run another play. It could result in a 10-second runoff (at the option of the offense), setting the clock at 0:39. The 40-second play clock would then be turned off, and the clock would run on the ready for play. Referees, make sure you know that we need to run off that last 0:39, in that scenario. Any number of things could happen, including fouls by the offense that cause the clock to stop during that 39 seconds. Do not end the game automatically unless the clock is under 0:10 and a 10-second runoff scenario occurs.
Old-school officials referred to "point of attack" or "POA" fouls. These fouls were called if they had a direct competitive effect on the play. I have seen plays on video where the foul was called completely away from the POA. I am not referring to personal fouls, as they need to be called anywhere on the field at any point in the game. Good officials understand this philosophy. Hopefully, they can mentor our newer officials. An unnecessary vicious hit away from the play is different than a hold.
Coaches have improved so much with controlling the sidelines, making officiating tight sideline plays easier for officials. Remember during the dead-ball time (after the play is clearly over and the colors have separated, and before the snap is imminent), coaches can take a few steps on the field to call the next play and or encourage players.
The call of catch/fumble or incomplete pass is typically the hardest call for officials. Study and discuss catch/incomplete at this week's pre-game. SCFA philosophy is that if a receiver catches and controls the ball, and his next action is a move common to the game, think catch/fumble. If there is any question, make it incomplete. Rule 2-4-3(h): "When in question, the catch, recovery or interception is not completed." Speaking of catch, remember if we have an upright receiver in the field of play, with two feet on the ground and in firm control, and he gets hit and fumbles without making a move common to the game, it should be ruled an incomplete catch. If, however, the same occurs in the end zone, it should be a touchdown.
Tip of the week: On an incomplete pass play, where there is pass interference, it looks stronger to throw the penalty flag first, then signal incomplete. Perception is reality!
If you cannot defend your call, don't call it.
Good luck this week, and safe travels! Thanks for your hard work.
Director of Football Operations
Southern California Football Association