Big 12 to experiment with eighth official this season

The extra official has one primary job. In this age of hurryup offenses, of quick snaps and frantic substitutions, the alternate ref is being asked to retrieve the ball and set it ready for play as quickly as possible.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 18, 2013
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Big 12 referee Mike Defee said the eighth man will free the offense. “As far as not substituting, you can go as fast as you want to,” Defee said.

The alternate referee won't be a powerless official. He will have a flag and will be encouraged to use it. The eighth official will help watch interaction with the offensive tackle on his side, plus potential hits on the quarterback.

But getting that ball set for antsy QBs is job one.

Anderson told his alternate refs that he doesn't care if their back is to the ball when it's snapped. Anderson also said he's told coaches that there will be times when a man in motion will collide with the retreating official. “That guy has got to go someplace,” Anderson said.

And the eighth official gives referees more freedom.

“You oughtta be in the catbird's seat,” Anderson told his refs last weekend at the College Football Officiating clinic. “Good feel for the game on both sides of the ball. Be able to manage fairly and equitably on both sides of the ball. So when the defense does want to substitute, we have a much better sense and feel for when that needs to occur.”

Anderson said the experiment worked great in spring games.

“Everybody loved it,” Anderson said. “You'll hear it from the officials. Allowed them to get back into the game. I had more comments from defensive coordinators, ‘finally, someone who can see when we're allowed to match up.' Plus, it gives us another set of eyes on those blind spots.”

That's the under-the-radar benefit. The alternate ref will free the line judge to place his vision more downfield, which has been more difficult as the game has gone more horizontal.

“There have been areas where we've been vulnerable,” Anderson said. “Now there will be areas where we're less vulnerable. Now there will be eight of us against 22 of them.”

Offenses can expect to play faster if they want, defenses can expect to be allowed to substitute when it's allowed and a game that has expanded to all corners of the field has an extra man to officiate for the first time in 30 years.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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