From: "Rich Kollen" - email@example.com
Date: Friday, October 08, 2010
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
2010 WEEKLY BULLETIN #6
Former legendary NFL referee Jim Tunney, who is a trustee at a California community college, writes a weekly article relating to life and football. I am honored to say that he also reads and comments on our weekly bulletins. Jim recently emailed me on some of his thoughts on phantom calls and getting the call correct on the field. In his 31-year NFL career, Jim opined that an official trusting a gut feeling in the heat of battle is usually correct. This feeling is based on several factors: an official’s innate and learned abilities (skills); being in the correct position to make a call (mechanics); preparation (rules study and philosophy memory); and anticipation. Despite an official's training and preparation, the one element to guard against is making a decision before it happens. Jim talks about letting a situation develop and not anticipating a call. Anticipate a possible play, but let the play develop before making any call. For more thoughts, visit his website at www.tunneysideofsports.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time-outs. With seven officials on the field, we should be able to see a head coach requesting a time-out. Make sure to glance at the head coach periodically. This is especially true when teams are in the red zone. Please discuss this week during the pre-game. We all have a sense for the game. We should all be able to anticipate when a time-out request may be coming.
Focus. If you concentrate and stay focused during the game, you have a greater chance of getting each play correct. Remember, you only have to concentrate for seven seconds 150 times per game to have a good game. That said, use that dead ball period to prepare for the next play.
Save the Crew. We had a play in which a quick pass, clearly forward, was dropped by the receiver, picked up by the defense, and returned for an apparent touchdown. The video clearly showed an incomplete pass, and yet a cheap touchdown was awarded. I know we all have our keys and areas of reasonability; however, someone needed to step up and piece this situation together. Interviews with the crew revealed that the line judge had a forward pass, but assumed the head linesman had a catch/fumble. If we had come together to discuss, we could have gotten this play right. With seven officials, I am unable to defend this blown call.
Quarterbacks. Every father wants his son to be a pitcher in baseball or a quarterback in football. Since both positions are very difficult and the biggest skill positions, I ask our referees to please protect our quarterbacks. Like any other safety foul, the benefit of the doubt should go to the player being hit. Referees, you are never lonelier than when a quarterback is hit and does not get up.
Pylons. The pylon is a unique piece of equipment on the field. It marks the intersection of the sideline with the goal line. When I started playing, it was a red flag on a flexible metal spring. Now it is a bright orange padded object. By rule, the pylon is out of bounds behind the goal line. A few possible plays: A runner loses possession of the ball in the field of play and it hits the pylon. Ruling: touchback. A runner is airborne and hits the pylon with the football. Ruling: touchdown. A runner, a defender, and the ball come together causing the pylon to “explode” into the air. Ruling: touchdown. (We are not good enough to mark the ball down on the one-inch line.) The pylon is there to help us. That said, with seven officials, we must always have an official at the goal line to rule on tough calls.
Rules Study. One of our observers emailed me concerning what he feels is a lack of dedication to studying the rules. Reviewing the scores from our final summer test, I can see his concern. I know rules study can be difficult, since 99.9% of you work high school games (NFHS rules). However, if you study the differences, rather than simply studying the two sets of rules, you will be a much better official. Officials who know the differences can be definite crew savers when those confusing plays happen.
Judson Howard. A few thoughts from Judson Howard, who observes for SCCFOA and writes for Referee magazine:
Š Penalty enforcement: Umpire – if the penalty is in side zone, walk off the penalty from the hash, not from the side zone. Headlinesman – move back to the sideline and walk the penalty off from there. Umpire – after walking off the penalty, look first to the headlinesman before you place the ball on the ground. Make sure you two are at the same spot before putting the ball on ground.
Š At the end of any and all fourth down plays, the clock stops. We need the time-out signal. To help with this, before every fourth down play, every official should be giving signal #19 to alert the crew to look for fourth down fumbles and to remind everyone that the play is a “clock-killer.”
Š If we have a penalty for 12 players on the field on the defense, there should be three flags - from the side judge, field judge and back judge. There are too many situations in which there is only one flag. This indicates that some of our deep officials are not counting the defense before each play. Remember, if there are 12 players, when the snap is imminent, and none of them are attempting to get off the field, shut the play down. An illegal participation call on this play is our fault. We have to shut it down and get the illegal substitution.
Š Wing officials – stay at the dead-ball spot until the umpire or referee spots the ball.
Š When reporting a foul to the referee, do not point at a player or team, and do not make hand gestures to show what a player did. Simply use your words with the referee.
Š If you do not actually see a touchdown occur, or if you are on the opposite side of the field from a runner scoring a touchdown, do not mirror the signal.
Š On close plays at the goal line, make sure you sell the call. Give a firm touchdown signal or give a firm spot short of the goal line. If we show confidence in our calls, no one will know whether we were correct or not. Perception is everything.
Tries and Field Goals. Chuck Stewart, a formal NFL official who now is observing for the SCCFOA, offers this suggestion on tries and field goals. The defense will usually place more players on one side of the snapper in an attempt to block the kick. They also usually have one of the defenders grab, pull and hold an offensive lineman to clear a space for his teammate to shoot the gap (the pull and shoot). Let’s have the side judge line up on the over-loaded side of the field. Umpires, you take the weak side, and focus on the snapper. This mechanic will hopefully help us be in a better position to rule on the pull and shoot. Let’s try it this weekend.
Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
Director of Football Operations