San Diego County Football Officials Association Memo
To: Crew Chiefs, Head Coaches, and Athletic Directors
CC: SDCFOA Instructors & Staff
From: Steve Coover, Instructional Chair SDCFOA
Re: Weekly Bulletin #8
Four SDCFOA Officials Selected to Work the State Championships!
Congratulations to Mike Parga, Greg Covington, Marlow Fitzgerald, and Earl Totty who have received word from the State CIF offices that they have been selected to work the State of California Championship Bowl Games in December. Let’s all get up to the Home Depot Center and watch them work! The San Diego County Football Officials Association has now had 16 officials selected to work the games in five years.
Free Blocking Zone
I knew we couldn’t get through a season without discussing the Free Blocking Zone!! The definition of the FBZ is tackle to tackle when splits are normal. The TE is in the FBZ when a team is in ultra tight (goal line or double wing tight formations – foot-to-foot). Blocking below the waist is allowed when all players involved in the blocking are in the FBZ and on the LOS at the snap AND the contact is in the zone AND the ball is in the FBZ. By the way – Chop Blocking is never allowed….in any case in or out of the FBZ.
Anatomy of a Mess
With a first down for Team A and a seven point lead, and just 1:08 remaining in the 4th quarter, the game appeared about over. Team B was down to just one timeout. Team A takes a knee and B immediately uses their last timeout with 1:06 left. One false start and one illegal formation later, it's still second down and the clock is now stopped with :59. Team A kneels again and it's now third down, but at least the clock is running….UNTIL the Team B coach is granted a timeout that he doesn't have by the official on his sideline. The referee immediately restarts the clock and hacks the ready with about :40 seconds left. Both sidelines are now in chaos, one because they have been unsuccessful in running the "Victory Offense" and one because they couldn't stop the clock. A comes to the line and waits and sets and finally snaps the ball as the game clock reads: 00. The LJ simultaneously throws a flag for delay. The R holds the ball overhead. Game over.
- Retain your mental focus even when the contest appears no longer in doubt. Bad things can happen even when A is trying to run the Victory Offense.
- All officials should confirm timeout status during every timeout.
- All officials should be aware of clock status (running/stopped) and approximate time left. Make a habit of checking the clock frequently.
- The play clock should be closely monitored by the LJ or BJ, particularly in situations such as the one described. Remember, coaches, fans, and players can do the ":25 second" math using the game clock.
Ball Boys and Dry Footballs
With the weather turning cooler and damper, it becomes more difficult for the umpire alone to keep a dry, clean ball in play. Teams should seriously consider recruiting a ball boy who can be trained by the officiating crew before the game and who can then ensure that a dry ball is available for use, every play if desired.
For reasons unknown, there has been a significant increase in football ejections this season. So far this year, we have had 17 players and one coach ejected with no video evidence to withdraw any of these ejections. Compared to last year at this time, we had six player ejections, including one that had been withdrawn. There's no trend to these ejections...no one team has had more than one ejection and no one official has called more than a single ejection. Just some mid-season information for your crew’s consideration and well as the coaches in San Diego. We can and will do better than this!
Round 1-Friday 11/19
Round 2-Friday, 11/26 (Thanksgiving weekend).
Semis-Divisions I, II, III and IV - THURSDAY 12/2 and Division V Friday 12/3
The CIF Championship games for Divisions I, II, III and IV will be MONDAY 12/6 at Qualcomm. That's a change from the usual. The games are at 10, 1, 4:30 and 8. Division V finals will be Friday, December 10 at Mesa or Southwestern.
Clock Awareness is a Whole Crew Responsibility
All officials should pick-up the stop the clock signal after any action that stops the clock, e.g., incomplete passes, runner/ball goes out of bounds, penalties, time-outs, end of periods, scores, fair catches, etc. Then there is less of a chance the clock operators will keep the clock running while they have to scan the field looking for an official who stopped the clock.
When reporting a penalty to the referee, officials should not point or use any other hand motions when discussing the foul. Use only verbal communication. Using hand gestures and pointing towards a team may be incorrectly interpreted by coaches and others. I am not talking about false starts and defensive encroachment penalties where the flanks jog in toward the referee and signal to him which team fouled. This is permitted as long as you are moving toward the referee in case there is a mix up between officials including the umpire!
All referees should give a preliminary signal, then administer the penalty, then give a final signal away from the crowd of players so that both benches and the fans can see the signal. Remember to give the preliminary as soon as possible – then figure out the enforcement.
We’re Taking a Knee
In a game last week, the winning team took over the ball with approximately 1:30 to go (they were up 24-21). They were on the defense's 30 yard line (approx.). The QB informed the referee as they headed onto the field that they were going to kneel down. We informed the defense that the offense would be taking a knee. The offense took a knee and the defense came through the line hard. There were no personal fouls warranted but the Umpire reminded the defense that the offense wanted to take a knee and he told the defense "don't fire out". Well, of course, the QB proceeded to take the next snap and handed it to a RB who ran for about 5 yards off left tackle before the defense could react and tackle him (they had not 'fired out'). After a few words to the offense reminding them they were taking a knee, and in the interest of getting the game done, we just got the ball set and let the offense take one more knee to run out the clock (no flags were thrown). After that last play, and for the last 20 seconds of the game, the officials listened to the defensive coaches berate the Umpire for telling their players not to fire out. What if the offense had scored? They had not specifically told the crew that they would be taking a knee on that particular play.
Needless to say, less seems to be better. I overheard an NFL Umpire yesterday telling the defense "they're taking a knee, be smart". I think this is all we should say and that we should be in ready positions, not too close to the action. Let’s not get too involved in any excessive management of the game or orchestrating the actions of teams. I strongly encourage our crews to just relay the “they’re taking a knee” message and remind them to “be smart”. And that’s it!
Keep the Arbiter Current and Double Check it!
We had two teams call this week asking why officials weren’t at the game site. Both games were freshman games and in both cases all teams entered the games as “away games”. Please take a moment to check your games in Arbiter for the rest of the season. If there are any mistakes or emergencies, please contact Tom Ables at firstname.lastname@example.org (858) 272-9179. Don’t call Coover (me) as I never assign officials (although I will contact Tom for you if you are in an emergency!)