Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Big 12 Head of Officials Prepares Us for Season

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Big 12 Head of Officials Prepares Us for Season

Article excerpt

With all the preseason magazines lining your local supermarket shelves, we have an idea of what to expect from college football teams. But then there's college football itself.

Each year, it seems, we're taken a little off guard by rules changes.

So let's, well, change that. I placed a call to Big 12 supervisor of football officials Walt Anderson, who has now been in charge of the league's zebras for 11 years.

"There are probably two changes this year that will get the most attention, he said.

Both, as one might imagine, concern player safety.

First, there's a tweak to the targeting rule.

"If there is a play that is clearly, obviously targeting, and the officials on the field completely miss it, the instant replay official can now stop the game and review it for targeting, Anderson said.

Makes sense, yes?

"From the safety standpoint, because there's been so much emphasis on concussions and head hits, the institution of the targeting rule has been the biggest rules change - and that's been in five years now, Anderson said. "It's made the most dramatic impact to the game. It's certainly changed the way players are approaching the game.

Some targeting calls, of course, are clear cut. Others, it would seem, are tough to discern.

"They can be, Anderson said. "Part of the reason it hasn't been as tough as it could be is players have made an effort - and coaches are doing a good job coaching it - to change the way they are attacking. There's been development of what's called high-risk' and low-risk' indicators. It's a coaching technique.

"[Players] want to avoid the high-risk' indicators because they put you at risk of targeting. Low-risk' indicators help you avoid it. It's helped because there are far less incidents of clear, obvious targeting, the head-hunting. It hasn't been totally eliminated, but you just don't see the style of going at the head. You just don't do that because the consequence of the penalty is so severe.

(As an aside, I mentioned Don Nehlen's idea to Anderson: eliminate the face mask.

"Coach Nehlen is probably right about that, Anderson said. "I've had a number of people with different roles in the game actually suggest that. …

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