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Old Sun Sep 18, 2005, 02:31pm
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I attended an NCAA D-1 game last night where the umpire would hatch (I think that's the correct term) the ball long after the referee blew the ball ready for play. Numerous times he would physically hold the center and nose guard at arms length while seconds wound off the play clock. Most of the time only four or five seconds but I noticed at least once when the play clock reached 17 seconds.

The worst case was on a punt when the kicking team waited to take the field. They ran on when the play clock was down to about 15 seconds. The umpire was still hatching the ball with 4 seconds left and the center had still not been able to get in his stance. The kicking team ended up calling a time out.

A lot of times this umpire would not get set in a stationary position over the ball. He would move around, turn around, move back and forth, etc. within a 1/2 yard or so of the ball - most times with his arms extended to hold the players back. It seemed to be a problem for both the offensive and defensive lines to get into position and get set because this guy was moving around in their midst.

I saw one head coach question the linesman a few times about it and the officials had a conference immediately after one of those complaints but nothing changed. It seemed to cause more problems for the team that ran a no huddle offense.

There were 29 total penalties and more flags thrown but penalties were declined or the flag was waived off. I don't think officiating favored one team more than the other but it just seemed like this crew could never really get in sync. There were numerous long conferences after flags (numerous times after whistles for simple offsides or procedure) and lots of discussion during media time outs. I have never attended a game where an officiating crew seemed so much a part of the game. Although I'm sure poor discipline by the players was a large part of that.

I wondered if the Umpires mechanics were the most noticeable indication of a crew that was generally inexperienced? Or were his mechanics correct?
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Old Sun Sep 18, 2005, 04:14pm
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Not quite sure what exactly you are getting at but let me try to attempt answering your question.

Last year, the NCAA changed their rules and mechanics regarding offensive substitutions. They wanted to reduce the number of late substitutions by the offense trying to catch the defense at a disadvantage.

When there is a substitution by A, the U is supposed to straddle the ball. That could be why he was around the ball after the ready for play. This allows for B to change their personnel to match A. If the play clock expires, it is a delay on A. Your example about the kicking team waiting to get on the field is a perfect example of this.

As for the discussions, who knows what was being said. Poor play/sportsmanship makes the jobs of the officials exponentially worse. It is amazing how much smoother a games goes when both teams are well-coached and well-behaved.

Hope that helps.
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Old Sun Sep 18, 2005, 04:31pm
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My main question was about the Umpire. You have probably answered it. I wasn't paying attention to substitutions - that may explain his delay.

I'll watch closer next time but it seemed like the no huddle team mainly just hustled back to the line without a lot of substitutions. Is he still obligated to be sure the defense has time to get lined up correctly - even though the referee has blown the ready for play whistle?

It might also explain why he never seemed to get set when he straddled the ball. He was looking around to see that both teams were ready.

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