SEC officiating coordinator talks 10-second proposal, the advantage of an eighth official

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona State

The NCAA’s 10-second proposal has been tabled for at least another season, and we’ve heard several coaches around the country, including the SEC, speak out against the proposal. The national coordinator of officiating Rogers Redding also spoke to the lack of ‘hard data’ surrounding the proposal.

Related: Les Miles went all Les Miles on the 10-second proposal

Yesterday, the SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw talked to AL.com regarding the up-tempo debate, and he hopes to avoid drawing ‘battle lines’ within the conference.

“My hope is that when we have this dialogue we can get beyond, ‘Well, my team goes fast, my team goes traditional, and so I like what my team does,’ and really look at what’s good for the long run in the game and what, if anything, we need to consider changing,” Shaw said. “The other way is just going to draw battle lines where nobody ever crosses.”

Shaw didn’t directly state his opinion of whether he’s in favor of the tabled proposal or not, and he expressed there will be a year to look into whether the injury data justifies a change. He did add that the year would allow them not only to discuss the safety concerns the offense brings, but also the ‘balance of the game’.

“I think what we have now is time to go gather as much data as we can get,” Shaw said. “Will there ever be this smoking gun data answer on the player safety? I don’t know. There’s a lot of bright people looking into that right now. You can make case arguments for and against based on data, based on common sense. We’ll have a year cycle to debate this, not just for safety, but the balance of the game.”

Shaw also touched of one of the concerns surrounding the up-tempo attack: the officials’ ability to regulate the game and be in position by the time the ball is snapped.

Recently, we’ve seen Nick Saban, Mark Richt and Will Muschamp speak out to the officiating concerns up-tempo offenses bring, although all three have differing opinions related directly to the 10-second proposal.

Whether or not the officials have efficient time to get lined up will be an ongoing debate over this next year. The umpires generally spot the ball, and Shaw expressed the umpires are encouraged to jog crisply, not run or walk.

“I have nine SEC crews,” Shaw told AL.com. “When you talk about pace, you have different athleticism of umpires. What is a crisp jog to one guy is maybe not the exact same crisp jog to another guy.”

However, Shaw also touched on another issue that’s been brought up as a possible solution to the 10-second proposal with respect to the officiating concern: using an eighth official.

The SEC currently uses seven officials, but they did test an eighth official in last year’s spring games, and Shaw said adding an eighth official will add to better overall game management. In addition, Shaw told AL.com that it would specifically help manage spread offenses by having another set of eyes on the line of scrimmage and in the backfield protecting dangerous quarterback hits. But Shaw isn’t ready to switch to eight officials…yet.

Related: Would CFB ever lengthen extra points?

“We’ll be talking about it internally in the conference,” he told AL.com. “There would be latitude to do it in conference games only. Then you get to, do you want consistent officiating all year (since an eighth official is only allowed for conference games)? There’s a cost component to it. There’s one more official the schools have to pay so that always factors in. What I’m trying to look at is does that make us better?”

According to AL.com, crews found that with an extra official, it freed the umpire and referee to focus more on their pre-snap duties.

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