Get Ready for Fall 2021

From: "Rich Kollen" -
Subject: SCCFOA
Date: Thursday, October 14, 2021



When I started officiating community college football in Southern California, there were over 50 teams in three conferences with three assignors. We used five officials on our games and many times you met them for the first time 30 minutes before the game. Experience, training, and philosophies were all different. The idea of having crews was something the NFL started years later, and major colleges went to crews in the ’90s. SCFA adopted it about ten years ago. Currently, we have 17 crews of seven officials. The value of officiating crews is well-documented: officials know each other, they bond, study video, and discuss plays during the week. It helps because they know the good “rules officials,” the strength of each official, and without egos, they try to help each other get the calls correct. I certainly understand that not all plays are called correctly. It’s always a work in progress. I truly believe, however, that without crews, we would be further behind in our goal of getting calls correct on the field.

One of our toughest calls is runner down or fumble. Bill Leavy, long-time NFL official and now an NFL supervisor, has said a high percentage of the time the runner is down before he fumbles. That is our philosophy. I might have miss led our Referees the other night on our Zoom call. Division I officials’ philosophy is different, due solely to replay. At our level, when in doubt, the runner is down by rule.

In one of our games, at the end of the first half, we had a controversial call that resulted in a 10-second runoff, ending the half with the team near the goal line. The call was correct, but there was a tremendous amount of confusion due to miscommunication with the coach. The coach misunderstood one of the flank officials. In this situation, Referees must get the six other officials off the field and he can explain it to the coach. That said, when having a meeting with a coach, always have another official with you. There is less chance of misunderstandings when you have a witness.

Some crews are using the Umpire in the offensive backfield, which has become an NCAA-approved mechanic. I have often noticed that Umpires are turning their backs and running out. If the offense snaps during that time, it leaves us with only six officials on the play. If you watch Center Judges at the Division I level, they backpedal, never taking their eyes off their key and the line of scrimmage. On a similar note, for Umpires holding for substitutions, make sure you get to know the center’s name and use it to tell him not to snap it until you tell him. Stand in the way of the QB until the substitutions have cleared. You can consider moving to the defensive side of the ball for substitutions, if that helps.

On pass plays, the covering official should be the only official signaling incomplete pass. Others should kill the clock with the time out signal (after making sure of the call). At our level, it is necessary to ensure the clock operator knows to stop the clock. They aren’t always looking at the right official, so we all need to signal to stop the clock.

When we are in doubt as to whether a pass is complete or incomplete, the covering officials should get to the spot. If no one gives an incomplete signal, make this a completed pass. If a coach requests a measurement, and it’s even remotely close, give him the measurement (especially on third or fourth down). Referees, when there are fouls during kick plays, refer to the players in your announcement as “kicking team” or “receiving team.” Avoid colors and team names. That should be reserved for announcements of charged timeouts.

When there’s a take down in the field of play that’s intentional and obvious, it should be called anywhere on the field. Although we generally have a philosophy that holds must have a material effect on the play, if there is a takedown, this philosophy does not apply.

If a player goes out of bounds, he cannot be blocked by an opponent who is also out of bounds. (Rule 9-1-7-c) This is a 15-yard penalty. Make sure BOTH players are clearly out of bounds prior to making this call. Note the spot of the foul is where the blocker crosses the sideline.

The act of the coin flip to start our games has caused some confusion. Let’s keep it as simple as possible. The visiting team always calls the coin flip. Make sure to get their selection, and repeat it back to them, prior to flipping the coin. If they win the flip, their realistic choices are to receive or defer until the second half (don’t let them say “we want to kick”). If they elect to receive, the loser of the toss must kick the ball and gets to select the goal to defend.

The majority of our penalties can be marked off immediately without consulting captains or coaches. This will help speed up the game. SCFA games should never go over three hours. In addition, to try to speed up the game, Referees should be marking the ball ready for play quicker when time isn’t a factor. Don’t wait for the chains to move, they’ll get there. SCCFOA philosophy is you don’t throw a flag unless you’re 100% sure of the foul. We do not want to be picking up flags. Our goal is to get the play right. I admire the official who picks up the flag, but if you weren’t 100%, it should not have been thrown. Slow down.

A crew mismarked a critical penalty involving half-the-distance enforcement. Fortunately, an official stopped the game and stepped up, saving the crew. Kudos to Diego Renteria for quickly reacting to an important incorrect penalty enforcement.

Recently, the NCAA changed the rule making 12 defensive players on the field a live-ball foul. (Rule 3-5-3-b Penalty) It basically gives the offense a free down. A crew shut down a play last weekend with 12 in position on defense. In addition, although the replaced player must have a foot down out of bounds prior to the snap, don’t be too technical. When in doubt, he was off.

The mechanics on how our wing officials handle the chains need to be discussed. On video, I’m seeing interesting things happen with the chains between quarters and during measurements. Officials working with the chain crews, remember they need good instructions before the game and supervision during the game. Their failures are the fault of the official instructing them.

Our goal to make sure we are 100% correct when we throw the flag. The farther away you are from the foul, the less likely you’re going to be 100%. You have enough to do in your own area, so please don’t go looking at other officials’ areas for fouls. Trust your partners.

There will not be a bulletin next week, as I will be traveling. Have a great weekend. As always, thank you for your dedication to this great game and the student-athletes.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Rich Kollen
Director of Football Operations