The art of the hold

Trust me, the only thing that will piss you off more than missed holding calls is this article explaining why officials don’t call holding when there’s holding.

When determining whether to reach for the flag, as yourself these two questions:

  • Was there an advantage gained by the offending team?
  • Was there a disadvantage suffered by the offended player?

Once you can answer yes to either question, does the play fit into one of the following buckets:

  • Grab and restrict. When a player takes hold of a would-be tackler and prevents him from advancing toward the ball-carrier. Call it near the point of attack, not if it happens 15 yards away and has no impact on the play.
  • Grab and turn. When a player takes hold of a would-be tackler and spins him away from the play. Again, proximity to the point of attack is a component.
  • Takedown/tackle. The point of attack is not critical here. A takedown to the ground needs to be called anywhere on the field…

And… if someone gets held but just gives up on the play with no effort to get away – even right at the center of the play – it’s not a foul.

If I’m a defensive player, all this tells me is when in doubt, flop.

What’s truly hilarious about this set of evaluations is that if an official was really following one potential holding situation that closely, think about all the other things happening on the play that he isn’t watching.



Filed under College Football

23 responses to “The art of the hold

  1. I hate the blatant inconsistency about the holding call. It’s either holding or not. I got tired of watching offensive linemen take Pollack or Jones down and watch the SEC officials turn the other way. You rarely see a team get away with holding an Alabama defender.


    • ASEF

      Holding rewards offense, and everything that rewards offense these days is considered good for the cha-ching machine.

      That’s been the drill for a decade now.

      Btw, Alabama was 85th in the country in opponent penalty yards per game last year. Georgia? Dead last. Oof.


      • In 2015, we were 127th only in front of Arkansas. Alabama was 102nd according to

        You rarely if ever see a holding call go against Bama, and Saban seems to be in the ear of the officials about holding. Hopefully, this is another detail Kirby takes from his boss.


  2. Cojones

    So the call is not as a resultant of actually committing holding, but rather, the official’s idea of whether it disadvantaged the other team. Who would have known? Whatever happened to the player tactic: as soon as a hand comes near his chest, the offended player places his hands over the offender’s hand(s) and begins pulling outward on his uniform and stretching it even while the offending player tries to pull loose? That used to get the official’s attention for a call and lower the cases of actually being “held”.

    Let’s change the call to “Grasping”.


  3. Mike Cooley

    I can understand not calling every holding penalty. Holding takes place every single play. Call the really flagrant stuff that clearly affects the play. That makes sense to me. I don’t freak out over it very often when someone holds and it is t called. What I hate is when officials call something that wasn’t there. I understand they aren’t going to catch everything. But it burns me up when they flag something that didn’t happen.


    • I understand your perspective, but it’s not the rule. Enforce the rules as they are published, and maybe offensive line coaches return to teaching appropriate technique. This rule is the most egregious to benefit the offense.

      Using the “logic” of the article, Todd Gurley’s kick return against Auburn should have never been called back.


  4. John Denver is full of shit...

    You mean like how far down the field a lineman may or may not be on a fake punt executed to perfection?


  5. Just call it the same for both teams please.


  6. Tatum

    You w would have to be clairvoyant to be able to determine if there was an advantage or disadvantage at the exact moment the holding occurs.


  7. fuelk2

    Ray Drew was held! #notoverit


  8. merk

    I just do not get why there is not an extra official or 2. I get that there is a lot going on and they are going to miss some stuff. However, you cannot tell me with the amount of money flowing, that they cannot afford 1-2 extra guys per game. This is a huge deal now, with them wanting to call players being down field and wanting to call targeting.


  9. Hobnail_Boot

    2006 punt return for a TD against Tennessee..

    Wait. We’re pretty sure that Leonard Pope may have sort of possibly held a guy 30 yards downfield.


  10. CB

    Advantage disadvantage is a pretty standard metric for evaluating penalties in football as well as basketball. The scary part is the amount of margin Penn Wagers is allowed to screw it up.


  11. Officials call a minor twitch in an offensive lineman consistently as a false start. There’s no advantage to the offensive linemen in this case. Using the same logic as they are using for holding, that shouldn’t be called either. People would be up in arms because it’s a rules violation everyone can see. Holding should be called the same way.