Get Ready for Fall 2022

From: "Rich Kollen" -
Subject: SCCFOA
Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021



The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) has expanded the size of the insignia patch to 16 square inches to allow players to celebrate or memorialize persons, events, or social justice causes. (Rule 1-4-6-d, as amended on June 30th by PROP) Additionally, the student-athlete, as authorized by the institution or conference, is allowed other names/words intended to celebrate or memorialize persons, events, or other causes on the back of the jersey/uniform where the player’s name is traditionally located. The names/words may vary by team member.

When we officiate, we need to understand the intent of the rule, not just the rule. Knowing why a rule is needed will help you enforce it. In some cases, the intent is obvious (e.g., player safety). In other instances, a rule is intended to ensure that neither team is placed at an unfair disadvantage. Rule changes also happen when the offense or defense can gain an advantage with the rule. Know the spirit and letter of the rule to be a better official.

This week, we had a flag for pass interference in the end zone. The crew took the ball from the 18 to the 9, presumably going half the distance. This was incorrect. If not a spot foul, pass interference always gets the full 15 yards when the ball is snapped at the 17 yard line and out. This should have been placed at the 3 yard line. (Rule 7-3-8-c PENALTY) I have to assume someone on this crew knew the rule, but was afraid to step up. Be a crew saver!

The NCAA requires the down indicator and yardage chains to be operated opposite the press box. (Rule 1-2-7) The reason I have been told over the years is because it’s easier for the people in the press box to see the down and distance markers. All of the game video at our level is also done from the press box and the yardage chains are helpful when coaches are breaking down video. There’s been some confusion this year. Some have mistakenly believed that, due to COVID, the chain crew would be on the home team side since they follow the same COVID protocols. The state rejected this plan. The chains need to be opposite the press box, typically the visitors sideline, regardless of which team is on which sideline.

The NCAA reports that 40% - 50% of all video replay involves catch/no catch. Let’s discuss the process of the catch. (Rule 2-4-3-a) First, the receiver must have firm control of the ball with hands or arms (not legs). Second, the receiver must touch the ground inbounds with a body part. Third, the receiver has to maintain control of the ball long enough to perform an act common to the game. In addition, if the receiver is going to the ground, he must maintain complete and continuous control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground. These plays happen very fast on the field. Develop a good philosophy in your mind. The one we see often is when the receiver catches the ball, makes a quick move, is hit, and the ball is loose. This catch/fumble or no catch scenario is tough. An incomplete pass is your best decision. When in question, the catch is not completed. (Rule 2-4-3-h)

One of our toughest calls is a runner down before he fumbles. As soon as a body part hits (other than foot or hand), and there is control, that play is over. Without replay, runner down by rule is your best decision.

Athletic Directors, please check out all of the equipment before the game. This is helpful to the crew to start the game on time and keep it moving. Very little disrupts the continuity of a football game more than the game clock or play clock not working. In addition to making sure the technology works, make sure the clock operators are experienced and focused. Problems with clock management create unnecessary stress on the participants and officials.

Limit lines are required 12 feet outside the sidelines and end lines (unless the stadium surface does not permit, in which they shall not be less than six feet from the sidelines and end lines) inside the 20 yard lines, and around the back of the endzone. No one is permitted be in this area. Last week, an official ran into someone standing inside the limit lines. Fortunately, he was not injured. Officials can help with this process of clearing that area, but it is a game management responsibility to keep this area well marked and clear of spectators.

There have been requests from officials who want to review the video of the teams they will be officiating. As a reminder, most teams’ stats are posted on the CCCAA website and easily available to officials. I understand it’s important to know who the quarterback is, left or right handed, who catches most of the passes, ball carriers likely to get the ball, etc. Watching video at this level, however, is not that important. Most D-I officials I know rarely watch film of the teams they are to officiate that week. Generally, reviewing the stats is enough.

We had a crew that stayed on the field during halftime. I don’t know if the lack of dressing facilities was the issue, but please get off the field and find a place out of view of the spectators. Halftime should be spent doing more than relaxing. You should be discussing any plays and talking about any fouls or situations that arose. We don’t want that to happen in front of spectators.

On 15-yard penalties, the Umpire should run or jog to the new spot. Walking that distance looks bad. A flank official will double check the correct distance. Speaking of correct distance penalty enforcement, the software that tracks the stats is automatic when it comes to penalties. If a penalty is marked off incorrectly, I’ve been told they have to reboot the system to override that. Let’s make sure we aren’t the cause of any incorrect stats because of poor penalty enforcement.

We talked about the correct placement of the ball 1-2-3-4-5. Let’s do a better job recognizing where the ball was last snapped and get it to that place. This especially happens on incomplete short passes to the opposite side of where the ball was snapped. This is the Umpire’s responsibility, but all officials should have some idea of placement of the previous play. In addition, work hard to get the preferred placement after a touchback or a free-kick fair catch.

Body language will hurt you more than a lack of knowledge. Sometimes it’s less a matter of what you say than how you say it. In officiating, body language often speaks louder than words. Even a correct call will cast doubt in the minds of participants if you don’t appear decisive. Be strong in your calls. As the adage goes: if you’re going to be wrong, “be wrong strong.” The officials know the rules better than the spectators (at least they certainly should). Even if spectators/players/coaches think a ruling is incorrect, the body language of the official will go a long way to getting buy-in (right or wrong).

Issues with assistant coaches continued this past weekend. It’s the responsibility of head coaches to coach your coaches. As I stated last week, officials will always talk the head coach, but they don’t have time to be distracted by assistant coaches yelling in their ear. Officials should be willing to communicate with 24 people (players on the field, and the head coach).

Good luck this weekend, and travel safe. Thank you again for all you do for this great game!

If you’re tired of starting over stop giving up.

Rich Kollen
Director of Football Operations