Through the Eyes of an Official (4/17/10)

During football season, this feature will appear on the premium side of the forum. Dr. Ronald North, MD, a plastic surgeon and football official in West Texas, will present different aspects of the game including rule interpretations, mechanics and positions of officials on the field and will even try to answer questions from the readers that involve officiating (sans judgment calls).

As was mentioned in the initial article "through the eyes of an official" for, the officials use the spring to maintain their mechanics on the field helping officiate high school and college scrimmages. New mechanics will be tried; old ones reinforced.

This year the actual Spring Game for each Big XII football team will have a Big XII crew officiating the game.

A new mechanic that is being discussed for the upcoming year will be put in play the third quarter of the Texas Tech Spring Game. We are all used to seeing the Umpire, the official who watches for holding and other line of scrimmage infractions, position himself 5 – 7 yards deep in the defensive backfield beside or behind the linebackers. That position in today's spread offenses with multiple receivers allows the offense to "use" the umpire as a pick while running a crossing pattern. The umpire must not only officiate the responsibilities of his position, but dodge the crossing receiver and the defensive back pick play.

This year the Big XII has decided to try a new position for the Umpire. This new mechanic will be used the third quarter of each school's Spring Game as a test.

The Referee is normally positioned in the offensive backfield, usually 15 or so yards behind the line of scrimmage and to the quarterback's passing arm side. During the third quarter the Umpire will join the Referee in the offensive backfield on the non-passing arm side of the quarterback, giving him full concentration on the activities of the linemen. He will not have to avoid the receivers and the oncoming passes aimed across the middle which occurs in the current position of the Umpire.

This should be something the fans might notice, and start a thread on about their thoughts from the stands on this new Umpire position.

I hope you have enjoyed our start during the Spring of "through the eyes of an official". Beginning in August we will return with more articles on rules, officiating, and other such features.

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