I think we’re all good with Big 12 football officiating, and mostly because it’s not Big East football officiating. Or Pac-12 football officiating. Can’t forget that one.
Yet those guys in stripes are always the object of our attention, if even only to hope they don’t become the object of our ire. You may hate a guy because of a call or a whiff, whereas I might hate that that guy has become part of the story for one reason or another.
And this could happen, too.
Let’s reset the discussion, though, because there are two things we have to keep an eye on this season.
First, the Big 12 is going to use eight officials in a clever effort to keep up with the speed of the league’s offense.
“With offenses throwing more and going to the spread, the coverages that were for decades defined by seven officials are really appearing to be inadequate just to keep pace with the game,” Anderson said.
The NFL experimented with an eighth official in the 2010 preseason by using a “deep judge” downfield. Anderson, who is an NFL referee, said that plan served no purpose because the holes in officiating coverage are around the line of scrimmage.
“Once a play develops, you basically have five officials covering half the players downfield on pass routes and two officials (referee and umpire) covering the other half,” Anderson said. “That’s not a very good mathematical mix.”
I like it and the league does, too. This has since been approved at the league meetings in May and the Big 12 will be the only league doing this in 2013. And it may end up being a one-year deal. The idea is a good one, but, like most innovations, it will depend on implementation.
Two more eyes on the field means you’re likely to see more yellow flags on the field. That’s part of the intent. There was, at the least, a concern that the pace the offenses pushed and the formations those offenses used led to missed calls and, shall we say, favorable situations and manipulations for the offense. Simple cause and effect suggests the officials are there to do a job. How often or how strictly they do it will go a long way toward how the coaches and their bosses feel about it.
The second item to observe is also a good idea, because it deals with player safety, but it’s also one that’s going to be judged by subjectivity. Targeting a player is now a serious football offense, though one with variables that may be hard to players and officials to monitor and define.
Targeting and Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet (Rule 9-1-3)
No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.
Targeting and Initiating Contact to Head or Neck Area of a Defenseless Player (Rule 9-1-4)
No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul. (Rule 2-27-14)
Note: Beginning in 2013, disqualification from the game is a part of the penalty for violation of both Rule 9-1-3 and Rule 9-1-4.
Target—to take aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with an apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.
Crown of the Helmet—the top portion of the helmet.
Contact to the head or neck area—not only with the helmet, but also with the forearm, fist, elbow, or shoulder—these can all lead to a foul.
Defenseless player—a player not in position to defend himself.
Examples (Rule 2-27-14):
- A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.
- A receiver attempting to catch a pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect
himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
- A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.
- A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick.
- A player on the ground.
- A player obviously out of the play.
- A player who receives a blind-side block.
- A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.
- A quarterback any time after a change of possession.
Risk of a foul is high with one or more of these:
- Launch — a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area – A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area—even though one or both feet are still on the ground – Leading with helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with contact at the head or neck area – Lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet
These indicate less risk of a foul:
- Heads-up tackle in which the crown of the helmet does not strike above the shoulders. - Wrap-up tackle - Head is to the side rather than being used to initiate contact - Incidental helmet contact that is not part of targeting but is due to the players changing position during the course of play
HINTS FOR PLAYERS- Don’t lead with your head
- Lower your target–don’t go for the head or neck area with anything
- Tackle: Heads-up and wrap-up