Few colleagues still around

Published 4:09 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

In looking over the preliminary roster of Southeastern Conference football officials for the 2009 season, it is no surprise that I know so few of the men listed on that roster.

My final year as an on-field official was 1989, and the last season I served the conference as an observer was 2000, so it is no surprise that so few of my old colleagues are still around.

In reading the list of officials assigned to the spring clinic scrimmages at Arkansas and Kentucky, only a few of the instructors at each officiating position were active during my observing years. Only back judge instructor George Ranager was an active official during my tenure.

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The NCAA has published the college football rules changes for the 2009 season (I think I read where the rules changes will now be for two seasons, which means these changes will apply through the 2010 season.)

Most noticed by the casual college football fan is the new rule that both teams may wear dark jerseys, as long as they contrast. Heretofore, the visiting team has been required to wear white jerseys.

That rule has been tempered somewhat by allowing the home team to wear white (see LSU) as long as the visiting team agreed to wear colored jerseys. Now, the requirement is that the jerseys must contrast, and all players on a team must wear the same style and colored jerseys.

Another change is in the definition of the blocking zone, wherein offensive players are allowed to clip or block from the rear. It is now defined as a space five yards either side of the snapper and three yards beyond or behind that player.

The zone disintegrates after the play has developed and the ball has left that zone. Another change is that the term spearing is no longer in the rules. I assume that foul is covered in the personal foul rules.

The term tackle box, which comes into play when considering intentional grounding of a pass, is defined as five yards either side of the center linemen on the offense, and goes back all the way to the offense’s end line

A change in the play clock rule is that, after any official stops the clock, the play clock will reset at 25 seconds. If the play clock is stopped for reason of a team B injury, it will be reset at 40 seconds.

The horse collar rule, which I did not see called last season, has not been changed. I saw none of those called last year, and fully expected that either the rule would be dropped or more emphasis would be put on calling it in 2009. Neither happened.

My congratulations to Jimmy Buchanan and Julian Mapp, who were selected to officiate in the National Football League in 2009. They were replaced on the Southeastern Conference roster by Jim Kelley and Dean Waite, neither of whom I know. They came into the SEC after my time. I do not recall either Kelley or Waite being on the supplemental list, but in today’s transient lifestyle that is no surprise.

I was distressed to read of the passing away of Don Killelea. Don and his family are long-time friends, not only of mine but of most Natchezians. He will be missed by many.

My late congratulations to former officiating colleague and mentor Clarence Bowlin, The Democrat’s Miss-Lou Citizen of the Year.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a monthly column for The Democrat. Contact him at alanward39157@aol.com.