Big 12 to Add Additional Official for 2013 Season

February 20, 2013
Will additional refs hinder the game? (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Will additional refs hinder the game? (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

As the college football game continues to evolve, the Big 12 plans to experiment with its officiating crew by adding another zebra for the 2013 season.  Currently, the NCAA permits seven officials on the field, however, as the speed and physical nature of the game increases, the Big 12 believes an eighth official would better protect players in the offensive backfield and help improve the accuracy of calling the games.  Big 12 officiating coordinator Walt Anderson stated, “With offenses throwing more and going to the spread, the coverages that were for decades defined by seven officials are really appearing to be inadequate just to keep pace with the game.”

Before the eight-man officiating crew can take the field, the Big 12 athletic directors, coaches, and the NCAA rules committee must approve the move.  Eight officials isn’t a new concept as the NFL experimented with this idea during the 2010 preseason. The only difference was the eighth official was the deep downfield judge.  The Big 12 will use the added official to protect the line of scrimmage not coverage downfield.   

As it stands, the Big 12 is the only conference that will experiment with an eight-man crew.  However, the ACC will use eight officials during spring practice to see what, if any, benefit an additional ref would add.

Skeptics believe an eighth official covering the offensive backfield will certainly result in more laundry on the field.  During pass plays, refs aren’t watching the tackles as closely, but the eighth official is set to fill that gap and as a result it is likely more holding and chop-block penalties will be called.

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