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Rules 101: Pac-12 VP of Officiating Discusses Rule Changes and New Training Program

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We all know how frustrating the officiating in the conference has become. New VP of Officiating David Coleman talks rule changes and the Pac-12's new training and evaluation program for officials.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 Vice-President of Officiating David Coleman opened the second (and last) day of Pac-12 Media Days discussing everything that's going on from an officiating standpoint.

He started off telling everyone that this year the conference will utilize eight on field officials which is an increase from the previous seven. The eighth official will be known as the Center Judge and will be positioned in the offensive backfield (similar to where the NFL now positions their Umpires).

Coleman then took the time to explain this year's rule changes. One of the biggest rule changes is that the NCAA has eliminated overbuilt facemasks.

Another point of emphasis is unsportmanlike conduct calls. It is now unsportsmanlike conduct to push or pull an opponent off a pile like when there is a fumble or loose ball that everyone is going after.

Yesterday, Commissioner Larry Scott blamed "lots of offensive plays" for the fact that Pac-12 officials call a lot of penalties.

But, today, Coleman discussed what they are emphasizing with the officials. He said:

Our focus this year in terms of the message to the officials, and they have received it loud and clear, is excellence in officiating. How are we going to do that? We're going to educate, we're going to train, we're going to develop and we're going to evaluate. We're going to use training videos. Every week I will do a voiceover on a training video for the entire previous week. What were the interesting plays? What happened that we did well? What happened that we could do better?

You would think that this was being done before. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't.

On the topic of evaluating the officials, Coleman said:

So when we get into the evaluation of the games, the position supervisors will evaluate games. They'll look at every play of every game, evaluating the performance of the official who was involved in that play, also looking at the activities of the other officials on the field and making sure they were doing what they were supposed to do.

There are five indicators of performance on each play. Those are shown by the initials there. CC is for correct call, IC is for incorrect call, NC is for no call, CJ is for correct judgment, and IJ is for incorrect judgment. I think those are self-explanatory in terms of what we're talking about.

Now the CJ, correct judgment, that's the Golden nugget. That doesn't happen very often. We will only give a CJ, the correct judgment for action, what I refer to, as above and beyond, really saving the crew, making the big call. When the chips are down, being there and being ready and doing it right. That is the correct judgment.

The evaluations will affect postseason assignments including the Conference Championship.

Here are two videos from Coleman's presentation:

At lunch, Coleman was available to answer questions. He did confirm that the positioning of the Center Judge will be similar to where the NFL places their Umpires, but Coleman emphasized that the NFL moved the Umpires from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side of the ball several years ago as a safety measure for their officials. He added that the NFL is now looking at possibly adding an eighth official who would be positioned in the middle of the field twelve years off the ball instead of close to the line of scrimmage where the Umpire used to be.

Interestingly, he did not mention anything about the illegal man downfield rule on run pass option plays or pop pass plays. It's surprising considering that the NCAA is making this a point of emphasis after declining a rule change on it. When I asked him about that, he said that it was not something that the Pac-12 would be emphasizing.

Here's the video I shot of the discussion Coleman had with reporters at lunch time:

The concepts Coleman discussed around the training and evaluation program seem pretty basic. So basic, in fact, that you would expect that the conference should have had one in place before. Well, whatever they were doing clearly wasn't working. Hopefully, Coleman's program will.

Go Bruins!!!