Football Official

Football Official


Somewhere in, NJ

Male, 62

I've officiated football for over 30 years, now in my 26th on the college level. I've worked NCAA playoffs at the Division II and III level. In addition, I've coached at the scholastic level and have been an educator for over 35 years. I have no interest whatsoever in being an NFL official! Ever!

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506 Questions


Last Answer on January 23, 2021

Best Rated

I am following up on a question you answered regarding "pushing the pile." Just to be clear, were you saying no penalty, but forward momentum should be ruled stopped? Or were you saying that the pushing can advance the ball?

Asked by over 9 years ago

Pushing can move the pile.  But at some point you have forward progress stopped.  In close line play it is a massive scrum; you aren't calling helping the runner.  The wing officials - head linesman and line judge, the two on the line of scrimmage - are going to rule on that.

Is "pushing the pile" a form of assisting the runner and therefore a penalty (or at least should forward momentum be deemed stopped)? Our referee this past weekend decided that it was not a violation even though it was clearly being done.

Asked by over 9 years ago

Different rules in high school and college, so let's first look at that. NCAA changed the rule this year to take out any reference to pushing the runner. NCAA Rule 9-3-2 says no teammate of the ball carrier "shall grasp, pull, or lift him to assist him in forward progress". So you can push him or the pile. The high school rule (9-1) states, "An offensive player shall not push, pull or lift the runner to assist his forward progress". So technically the push is illegal in high school football.

Without having seen the play I would tend to agree with your referee. In my many years of officiating I have NEVER seen helping the runner called.  And I dont want to.   Especially in close line play, how do you really determine that?  Most of my colleagues would avoid the call.  Obviously if a player lifts his teammate and literally tosses him over the pile, that's different. Generally speaking, progress was stopped - no foul.  Don't be too technical.  Next down!

How many players have to line up on each side of a kicker during a free kick in high school football? Please include any rulebook references.
Thank you.

Asked by Coach Loh over 9 years ago

Unlike in college where there must be at least four on each side of the kicker, there is no such rule in high school football.  The NFHS Rules Book shows no references for that under any of the pertinent rules, specifically Rule 6 - Kicking. 

What does it mean when referees give the false start motion to each other before the snap. I've seen the umpire and referee doing it as they are walking backwards. It appears that they are trying to communicate something to each other.

Asked by over 9 years ago

You've hit it - they're telling each other the foul.  It is done in the NFL and in college to save time and move the game along.  On something like a false start, it is pretty straight forward.  Rather than come in to conference, the calling official (the one who threw the flag) will signal and call out (or with indicate fingers) the number of the offending player.  You'll see officials come together on more complex plays or when there could be a question. For example, there might be movement by offensive and defensive linemen; who committed the foul?  The two line of scrimmage officials (and sometimes the umpire) will come in to discuss it; did the defense cause the offense to jump or vice versa?

I'm editing my response as I re-read your question.  You wrote before the snap.  I was responding to officials giving that signal after a flag is thrown.  The "rolling hands" - in college - among officials is given prior to 4th down, and it is a reminder that there are specific 4th down rules in effect for the upcoming play.  If you're writing about the NFL, I'm not sure, but I'll check on that.  Sorry for my mistake in responding the first time.

Here is the play in question. During a punt a member of the receiving team touches the ball which eventually gets into the endzone and is recovered by another member of the receiving team and is not advanced out of the endzone. Touchback or safety?

Asked by Rob over 9 years ago

Touchback.  There is an old saying in officiating: a kick is a kick is a kick.  A kick remains that until it is possessed, and what you describe has no possession until the receiving team recovers it in the endzone.  Had the first receiver controlled the ball (possession) and then fumbled it into the endzone, then we have a safety.

Has the win 10 rule ever been utilized in selection of playoff standings

Asked by Greg over 9 years ago

Sorry, but I don't know what you're writing about.  Officials have nothing to do with standings and team selections, anyway.

in ncaa football, what is the specific rule of marching bands playing during the game?

Asked by neal over 9 years ago

If there's an NCAA rule about bands, it isn't coverd in the NCAA Football Rules book (thankfully - one less thing to worry about!).  There might be some rules that universities and their bands follow, but it isn't a concern for officials.  The only reference to bands in the football rules is in the timing rule, Rule 3-4-1-b, regarding making sure half time is over as scheduled and getting the second half started on time. But even that rule states that bands "are under the jurisdiction of home management."  My sense is that the rule of thumb is that the band stops as the offense (home or visitor) comes to the line.