It’s Official: Army-Navy special for Childress

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Maybe once in a career a college football official will have the thrill of being directly involved in the pomp and pageantry surrounding a particular college game.

I don’t know Jack Childress and know nothing of his previous game or bowl assignments, but he was assigned to referee Saturday’s Army-Navy contest in Philadelphia.

Childress officiates in the Atlantic Coast Conference, to which neither Army nor Navy belong, so I am assuming the officiating crew for that game was from a neutral association.

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That may very well have been the case for a number of years, though Army belongs (this is the last year) to Conference USA. At any rate, Jack Childress had what I’m sure was a thrill when President George Bush was involved in the coin toss.

In all of my officiating years, the closest I ever came to that experience was many years ago. Prior to Georgia Tech joining the ACC, the SEC had assigned officials for Tech’s games. As the SEC part of a split crew, I was assigned to officiate the Georgia Tech-Navy contest at Annapolis.

I have no memory of which conference assigned the other members of that crew. Many will remember that President Jimmy Carter had attended Georgia Tech prior to graduating from the Naval Academy and attended the game.

At half he, his wife and their Secret Service entourage crossed the field in order to sit the second half on the Tech side. As they passed across the field between rope barriers, we officials were allowed on the field and stood next to the ropes. As President Carter passed us, he waved and said, &uot;nice job, fellows.&uot;

I did not like President Carter then (and still don’t), but it was still a thrill to be noticed by the President of the United States.

Last week’s column about the strange Texas extra point attempt in their game with Texas A&M drew a number of comments and even a couple of what-if questions. A reader asked, &uot;(A)What if Texas had recovered the ball in the end zone, and (B) what if A&M had picked up the ball instead of falling on it and had run it all the way into the Texas end zone?&uot;

Both questions assume that the entire play was legal, and there was no illegal kick violation called. The answer to A is two points for Texas as the result would have been the same as a touchdown, which is worth two points on a conversion attempt. In B, A&M would have gotten two points, under the same situation as happened for California in their Saturday night game at USM.

Now if the referee had correctly flagged Texas’ illegal kick, had Texas recovered the ball in the end zone, the Aggies would have accepted the penalty, and the try would have ended with no points scored because the penalty for illegally kicking a loose ball involved loss of down.

Had the Aggies recovered it, the same result would hold. Had the Aggies returned the ball for a score, they could have declined the penalty and kept their two points.

I am constantly amazed and tickled to receive e-mail comments about this column from all over the country and even from Australia. Keep them coming.

And that’s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at