Explanation of officiating crews with responsibilities, positions and areas of vision?

Submitted by UMdad on November 23rd, 2012 at 6:48 PM
With all of the complaints of the officiating this year, I find myself more curious about the roles and responsibilities of the crews. Does anyone have enough knowledge of NCAA officiating to explain the field crews including where they should be positioned, where they are looking, and what they are responsible for?

Comments

LSAClassOf2000

November 23rd, 2012 at 7:07 PM ^

As far as I can recall, at least for relative positioning, the referee is supposed to be behind the offensive  team, and the umpire is supposed to be behind the defensive line and the LBs. The line judge and head linesman are on either end of the line of scrimmage. The field judge is downfield from the line judge, behind the secondary, and the side judge is relatively in the same position, but downfield of the head linesman. The back judge stands deep beyond the secondary. 

I don't know if there are recommended distances. 

Urban Warfare

November 23rd, 2012 at 7:19 PM ^

My understanding is that distances are situational, e.g. in a 3rd and inches at the goal line, the officials are going to be in close so they can see the ball carrier better, while in a passing situation, they're going to be farther off the line so they can see more of the play. 

Mich97c

November 23rd, 2012 at 8:20 PM ^

and we use 5 man crews until playoffs.  The positions are Refree behind offense, he will position to the side of the QB's throwing arm.  Umpire behind the the DL and out of the way of any LB's.  These two watch the interior of the line for chop blocks and holds.  Linesman and Line Judge on the wings watching for false starts, signaling for enough men on the line.  They read the tackles for pass or run, watch the edges and spot the ball.  Linesman is in charge of the chains.  Back Judge is in the middle of the field 20 yards down until you get to the goal line, then he has the back line.  He also is one of the officals under the goal posts for kicks.  Side and Field Judge line up with the back judge and read the outside recievers and spotting deep balls.  Every play needs to be "boxed" in meaning there are four officals watching the action for every possible angle and being good dead ball officals.  Your job is not to be noticed and let the kids decide the game.   

MGoBender

November 23rd, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

Just to clarify, by "linesman" he means "Head Linesman."

One thing most people don't realize is that there are very specific and intricate procedures in officiating any sport. For example, the Referee is really responsible for two things: The quarterback and interior line penalties. And really, the latter is primarily the responsibility of umpire.

I know more about basketball which, like football, has very specific responsibilities as far as court coverage goes.  I always laugh when a coach yells at a referee who was not at all looking at that area of the court. Beilein did it today, actually.

 

Wolverinebaboo

November 24th, 2012 at 8:45 AM ^

Each official has his own keys at the snap. For example, the umpire has the interior linemen, referee the tackle across from him and offensive backfield, etc. after watching your initial reads (for things like illegal shift, false start, illegal blocks after the snap), officials go to zone coverage and box in the play. Only one/two officials is actually watching the ball/ball carrier. The others have their own responsibilities: blocking in front of/ behind the play, etc.

Alton

November 24th, 2012 at 9:34 AM ^

To add a little to what has been posted here...there are 7 officials in an NCAA game, and they may be identified by the letters on the back of their jerseys.  I will describe their positioning on an ordinary scrimmage play at the middle of the field.  The positioning changes for kicking downs, goal-line and other unusual situations.

1. Referee [shirt letter:  "R"].  Positioned in the offensive backfield, about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  Only official with a white hat.  Responsibilities:  Communication with benches, press box, replay booth, TV producer.  Administration, including coin flip, keeping track of timeouts left and the down, determination of first down, putting the ball in play.  The referee is the head official.  Most commonly called penalties:  holding, roughing the passer, illegal shift.

2. Umpire [shirt letter:  "U:"].  Positioned in middle of defense, about 5-7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage parallel with or just behind the linebackers.  Responsibilities:  placing the ball before every play, walking off penalties, counting the offensive players, keeping track of the time remaining in the quarter. Most commonly called penalties:  holding, false start, chop block.

3. Linesman [shirt letter:  "H", because the position used to be called "Head Linesman"].  Positioned on the sideline opposite the press box at the line of scrimmage.  Responsibilities:  supervising the down & distance operators, counting the players on the line of scrimmage, marking the spot of a dead ball on his half of the field.  Most commonly called penalties:  offside, illegal block, face mask.

4. Line Judge [shirt letter:  "L"].  Positioned on press box side of the field at the line of scrimmage.  Responsibilities:  counting the offensive players on the line of scrimmage, marking the spot of a dead ball on his half of the field.  Most commonly called penalties:  offside, illegal block, face mask.

5. Back Judge [shirt letter:  "B"].  Positioned 20-25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, behind the safeties near the middle of the field.  Responsibilities:  watching the play clock, counting the defense, ruling on long passes in the middle third of the field.  Most commonly called penalties:  delay of game, pass interference, illegal substitution defense.

6. Field Judge [shirt letter:  "F"].  Positioned on the sideline 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on the press box side of the field.  Responsibilities:  supervising the ball persons on his side of the field, getting the ball to the umpire for the next play, keeping track of the wide receivers or tight end on his side of the field.  Most commonly called penalties:  pass interference, defensive holding.

7. Side Judge [shirt letter:  "S"].  Positioned on the sideline 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on the side of the field opposite the press box.  Responsibilities:  supervising the ball persons on his side of the field, getting the ball to the umpire for the next play, keeping track of the wide receivers or tight end on his side of the field.  Most commonly called penalties:  pass interference, defensive holding.

So think of the refs in 3 groups:  The 2 "holding" officials (Referee behind the offense and Umpire behind the defense), the 2 "offside" officials (Linesman opposite the press box and Line Judge same side as the press box), and the 3 "pass interference" officials (Back Judge in the middle, Field Judge on the press box sideline and Side Judge on the opposite sideline).