Move to 8th football official gains steam, but why, why, why?
Posted June 2
Is the day getting near when there will be 30 people on the field in all college football games? Regrettably, that’s the direction things are heading.
A year after the Big 12 Conference started an experiment with eight officials, rather than the basic seven, the SEC has adopted the same policy for a few games amid much speculation that the ACC and Big Ten soon will fall in line.
Just what the world needs, huh?
College games routinely last almost four hours as it is. Adding an eighth official will only add more minutes.
Or as that famous philosopher, the late Frank Howard of Clemson once said, “Put a yellow handkerchief in a man’s pocket and he’ll damn sure throw it on the ground.”
The same goes for basketball, a sport Howard cared less for than football officials. Put a whistle in a person’s mouth and it’ll get blown, often along with the enusing ruling.
But at least the lords and ladies of basketball thus far have resisted from expanding crews to four. Until the mid 1970s, two officials supervised basketball games and managed to do it without causing World War III.
Football crew numbers seem to increase exponentially, going from five in the 1950s to six in the ‘60s and to seven in the ‘70s.
That’s in addition to the ever-growing instant replay options.
As the movement advances for an eighth crew member, stop for a minute or so and reflect on the number of times you’ve seen officials make inadvertent blocks or accidentally deflect passes or prematurely blow live plays dead?
Standard football fields are 100 yards long and about 53 yards wide. That’s not a great deal of operating room when you take into consideration that major college linemen and linebackers usually are 6-feet-3 or taller and weigh at least 225 pounds. The backs are smaller but wide outs can go 6-5 and 225.
The incentive for larger crews is admirable, of course. Everyone pays the proper lip service to getting each play called correctly. In a perfect world, that would happen.
But football is not a perfect world and never will be. You could put 22 officials on a field - a 1-to-1 ratio for players - and infractions still would be missed.
The reality of the situation is that adding an eighth official is just as likely to result in more missed calls, confusion, traffic jams and those annoying officiating confabs.
Enough already. Stop it at seven before some league decides that eight just isn’t enough and goes for nine.