How to Make CFB Officiating better
by KLav18 (2006-05-08 11:28:07)
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reposted from yesterday...
By the way, I am breaking a bunch of "codes" by posting this. So keep your yappers shut, I don't want to end up being thrown off the Balboa Pier tonight by a renegade bunch of officials.

Let's all pretend that the NCAA wanted well-officiated football games and that they were willing to spend the money to correct any problems. Here are 3 things that they need to do.

#1- Eliminate all conference ties with officials. For obvious reasons, these men work in conferences that are located near where they live. In other words, there aren't any guys living in Los Angeles that work football games for the SEC. Does this create bias? Hell yes it does, especially in a non-conference game. It's a simple case of not biting the hand that feeds you. If the NCAA employed all College Football officials, and assigned their games, these bias issues would be minimized. It doesn't mean that every weekend officials have to travel thousands of miles to games. If Arkansas is playing South Carolina, the officials should come from the South. They don't have to come from Seattle. I got out of officiating college football because I couldn't afford to spend 2 and sometimes 3 days away from my family every weekend in the fall. In other words, don't hold your breath on this one happening.

#2- Make officials accountable for incompetence. We have all seen incompetence by officials. The way officials are evaluated now, (and I have personally taken part in these evaluations) there really is no accountability for poor officiating. What will happen is that the crew will get a lower rating and their schedule next year might not be as strong.
Why do you do a good job at work? Probably because you know that if you do a good job, you will keep that job and consequently keep making money. These officials need to be PERSONALLY accountable for the jobs they do. For example: the Line Judge that didn't see Darius stick the ball over the goal line in the Fiesta Bowl game; I can excuse that. However, the fact that he was going to spot the ball at the 1-yard line... that is unexplainable. That guy needs to be on a conference call the next day, with video capability, and someone at the NCAA needs to ask him what the fuck he was watching. He will probably say, "I thought he was short. That is what I saw." Someone at the NCAA needs to tell him that if his eyesight doesn't improve then he isn't going to be in this profession very long. The way it works right now, the NCAA will say "Old Bob is in the right position to make the call. He simply saw him short of the goal line. That's the way it is." BULLSHIT! Old Bob needs to have more skill as an official if he is working the damn Fiesta Bowl. Skill exists in officiating, trust me. Obvious lack of good judgment should not go unchecked. Just like there are good insurance salesmen and bad insurance salesmen, there are both bad and good officials. To get to a major conference, you have to show competence and skill. The problem is when they get there, it more or less goes unchecked. Because "judgment" is a personal thing, it goes unchecked. What you think is pass interference, I think is good defense. The NCAA needs to make officials accountable for OBVIOUS lack of judgment.

#3- This is by far the most important of the 3 changes that need to be made. The way it is right now, there are 2 officials on each sideline that stay there the entire game. Consequently, some sort of relationship is established, whether it is positive or negative, and officials behave accordingly. The sideline guys (Head Linesman, Line Judge, Field Judge, and Side Judge) need to switch sides at halftime. Why? Here is why...
If you calculated the % of flags thrown by sideline officials, the % of flags they throw that BENEFIT the team on their sideline would be around 67%. In HS Football, we did this study in 2002, and it was a whopping 72%. Think about that. That stat includes things like encroachment and false starts. (Things you can't "not call")
This directly affects games. Here is how... You're working the sideline of the USC-Texas game. Pete Carroll and his cronies have been, A) a bunch of swell guys. Sweethearts. or B) complete assholes, riding you on everything. They think you suck.
In the 4th quarter, Texas runs a sweep to your sideline on 3rd and 4 with the score tied and 3 minutes to play. There is a block at the point of attack that sort of looks like a hold, maybe not.... Well fellas, guess what? In both cases A and B, with the coaches being nice guys or assholes the MAJORITY of football officials will throw that flag simply because he either wants USC to get off his ass, or because he is "in awe" of what a bunch of swell guys they are. It sounds corny guys, but I have been there, and you do it unknowingly.
If they switch the guys at halftime, the teams won't put as much into baiting officials and positioning themselves for a call late in the game. Consequently, officials won't be as influenced by the sideline they are on.
Think about this... When the Rocket returned that punt vs. Colorado and the clip was called, what sideline was that on? Do you think if that kick was punted to the other side of the field, and everything happened exactly the same, that the official would cost ND an Orange Bowl on an "iffy" clipping call? The fact is that that man who threw the flag had Bill McCartney and his staff in his ear for 4 full quarters. And when Smith hit that guy, he heard 90 guys scream "CLIP!!!!!" at the same time.
Sideline biased officiating is the BIGGEST issue facing HS and College football today in my opinion.
I have always said that any HS football coach that runs punts or sweeps on 3rd down to his opponents sideline is asking for trouble. Guys will throw the flag simply because the only people who will argue are 53 yards away and they won't know it was a bullshit call until that night when they are watching the film.

Other points: You hear commentators say all the time how fast the game is, and how the officials can't see everything... I will tell you right now that there are occasions when that is true. About 3 years ago I was working the Santa Margarita vs. Mater Dei game. It is a very big deal out here, 2 of the biggest Catholic School powers playing an important late season league game. At the end of the half Santa Margarita throws to the Tight End in the back of the endzone, LITERALLY 5 feet in front of me. At the last minute he turned his body to shield the safety, and I could tell by the way he fell down that he didnít catch the ball cleanly, but as he lay at my feet he had the ball in his hands above his chest. At that very second, 10,000 people were dead silent and looking at me. I HAD NOT A FUCKING CLUE whether or not that kid caught the ball. He was 5 feet in front of me, but I couldn't see it. Luckily we have a very good Umpire and I looked at him and he shook his head "No" so I signaled Incomplete. It turns out it was the correct call. It happens, you can't see everything. That is why Instant replay is a good thing.
Are the officials using Instant Replay as a crutch? Hell yes they are, but if it exists then the smart thing to do is use it as a crutch. Let me explain. Last night, we all know the play, let's say that the covering official blows his whistle when he thinks Vince Young's knee hits the ground. He blows his whistle as whomever it was catches the lateral and dances into the endzone. Whistles echo throughout the Rose Bowl.
At that point, you cannot review anything. What if his knee WASN'T on the ground when he pitched that ball? Then they are really fucked. So if replay exists, the good officials will swallow the whistle on plays like that. (And the Gonzales catch/fumble/incomplete in the Fiesta Bowl.) It's logical.
On the issue of "Screwing" a team. I have officiated for a long time, and I have NEVER come across a guy who has gone into a game with the intent of screwing any team based on race, personal past, creed, etc... Does it happen? Maybe, but in all my years I have NEVER seen it at either the HS or college level. However, do some officials aim to teach coaches and players a lesson via their flag? Yes. There are 3 types of people that officiate: 1. Pussies that will bow down to a loud coach and throw his flag on the other team in the hope that the coach will go home after the game and dream about what a great official he had working his game today.
2. Assholes- guys who hear a loudmouth coach or player and teach him a lesson by throwing his flag accordingly. Seriously, there are guys who get off on this. I have seen it happen personally, guys on their cell phones after the game calling their buddy and saying how he got into an argument with Coach So and So and how he really fucked him. That was the highlight of his week.
3. Good guys that simply love football and are not influenced by anyone and simply call it as they see it.
Sadly, the % of Pussy, Asshole, Good guy is: 33%, 33%, 33%.

That's the reality folks. What Kevin White needs to do is call all our future opponents, home and away, and tell them that we are going to use neutral conference officials from now on. If you don't like it, then don't bother coming to South Bend. We'll find a replacement. If you don't want to change it at your place, then call the University of Idaho and see if they are available because we're not coming.
Someone fucked up a long time ago when these contracts were made, and as a guy that is in this business I will say it has cost us football games. Not as many as some people think, but some.


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