“We have to show we do get better coverage to justify that extra cost of an official.”

On one side, SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw lays out the case for an eighth official in the era of the HUNH:

“People think we’re putting the eighth official in so we can go even faster (given the ongoing debate about up-tempo offenses),” Shaw said. “That absolutely is not the case. The expectation is the pace of the game, whether it’s seven or eight, will be very consistent across the board.”

Shaw said the SEC’s experiment is based on football’s changing complexities due to spread offenses. That’s a point echoed by other conference officiating coordinators. Football has become a numbers game — more teams throw the ball and more receivers run patterns –and officials are struggling to keep up.

Consider the math on a play if five offensive players go out for a pass. There are three officials positioned deep and two on the sideline. So five receivers (and potentially five to six defensive backs) are occupying five officials.

That leaves two officials — the referee and umpire — for the whole area around the pocket and line of scrimmage that involves eight to 11 players. Many officiating coordinators say the numbers don’t add up, especially given the emphasis on player safety, such as watching for personal foul hits on the quarterback.

“That’s a tall order,” Shaw said of two officials watching the balance of the players. “The early views are this eighth official helps us spotting the ball and managing the substitution process, but it’s also an extra pair of eyes to officiate.”

Shaw said the hope is the center judge can free the umpire from handling substitutions and allow him to better make his pre-snap reads. (Yes, officials are taught to read keys, too, just like defensive players.)

Makes a helluva lot of sense, no?  What could be so compelling as to keep some conferences, like Larry “ideally, we would all run the race on a similar course” Scott’s Pac-12 from entertaining the notion entirely and even keep the SEC from doing nothing more this season than a toe in the water experiment with only one eight-man crew a week?  C’mon, do you really have to guess?

One concern for conferences could be the economics of paying more officials. Schools and conferences will have to determine if the eighth official provides enough value to invest money into it as opposed to other officiating areas.

In case you’re wondering, SEC football officials are typically paid between $800 and $2,200 per game.

If the football gods have a sense of humor, this season they’ll arrange a blown call by a seven-man crew that wouldn’t have occurred with the eighth ref in a SEC game that costs a conference team a spot in the playoff.


Filed under College Football

16 responses to ““We have to show we do get better coverage to justify that extra cost of an official.”

  1. TennesseeDawg

    The SEC’s revenue last year was up $41 million to $315 million. Let’s all pray they can scrounge up the extra $800 per game to pay another ref.


  2. Skeptic Dawg

    Here comes the “an eighth official is just one more to screw the Dawgs” meme…


    • uglydawg

      It’s not a meme if there’s solid evidence that it’s reality. But most of the time it’s only taken one official to do the deed.


  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    Does this mean we will have to suffer the slings and arrows of a second color man in the TV booth? Maybe Brent will swallow his tongue trying to keep up with Awbun.


  4. I Wanna Red Cup

    Maybe an 8 man crew would result in more OL holding calls. They called almost none last year, and holding was rampant.


    • wnc dawg

      This. For all the talk of HUNH and such, calling holding consistently would even out the pace too. But I’m not holding my breath- TV loves scoring & it does not seem holding or blocking concerns are ever the year’s “point of emphasis” for the officials.


  5. Irishdawg

    I don’t care about an 8th ref; I care about the corrupt fuck ups that fill the other 7 spots on a SEC crew.


  6. Skeeter

    Plus you have to add in the cost of another seeing eye guide dog.


    • 69Dawg

      +1000 I was going to say I didn’t think adding the eighth blind mice would help much but your observation is funnier.


  7. Macallanlover

    Shaw seems totally inept in his new role, he was a good official on the field but this response makes him look out of touch. Does he really think an additional $800+ per game is an adequate reason for not doing something to help get this done? He could save that much by firing some of the incompetents he has currently making $2000 a game. I agree there should be a quality over quantity lean to this but we have neither going for us in the SEC despite the windfall of dollars that have come our way over the past several years.


    • You really think Shaw’s making that call? He’s just being the loyal company man.


      • Macallanlover

        I hear you but he is still accountable for SEC officiating. If I had that title/responsibility, I would resign before I would allow my hands to be tied from getting the job done. I would prefer being a top-notch ref than watching my rep go down because of Slive’s constraints. Really though, the best they can do is talk about finance restraints after a $41MM revenue increase year? That is a new low point for even that group.


  8. Mayor

    “SEC officials are typically paid between $800 and $2200 per game.” Above the table. Who knows how much some of them get paid under the table.


  9. Red Dawg

    UGA will be that team the football gods play the joke on