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July 22, 2010

Rogers Redding


CHARLES BLOOM: Good morning. Welcome to day two of SEC Football Media Days. We'll get things started with SEC coordinator of officials, Rogers Redding.
As you may know, the University of Georgia received a call yesterday from the NCAA requesting permission to come to the UGA campus for an inquiry. The NCAA has asked that no Georgia official, coach or student-athlete, make any comment regarding SEC or NCAA compliance issues until their inquiry was completed.
We ask that you respect that request when speaking with the Georgia coaches and student-athletes today.
We'll start this morning with SEC coordinator of officials, Rogers Redding.
ROGERS REDDING: Good morning, everyone. It's always great to see you. Media days is always an exciting time for us at the conference. You can be sure that the officials are as excited about the season getting underway as the players and coaches and fans and all of you are.
This morning I'm going to take you through a little bit of what's going on with the NCAA with regard to the playing rules.
The NCAA in its major sports has gone to a two-year rule change process, so that rules would only ordinarily be changed every other year. This is the off year for the football rules, so the football rules book this year is the 2009/2010.
Having said that, there will be no rule changes this year. Having said that, the committee has the authority to make rule changes if players' safety in particular is impacted. So since the 2009 season, maybe beginning during the 2009 season, there was an awful lot of attention nationwide to concussions. There have been a number of articles in the press about concussions. NFL is doing a longitudinal study about the impact on the brain of continuous blows to the head, that sort of thing.
There's an NCAA/NFL working group that gets together and talks about common interests, and in particular about the rules, which differ somewhat in the NFL than they do in the NCAA.
So we met in February. One of the results of that, outcomes of that conversation, was a rule change this year for NCAA football, which the NFL put in last year. It is this. This comes about because of concussions, disproportionate number of concussions occur on kickoffs. So the rule that the NCAA has put in this year is that it is now illegal to form a three-man or more wedge, it's a wall really, intentionally to block for the receiver on a kickoff. Two men are okay. A wedge means shoulder-to-shoulder along the same line, side-by-side. So three or more is illegal. If they're more than two yards apart, that's okay. If they're within two yards, shoulder-to-shoulder, three players aligned along a straight line, that's a foul for formation. Whether a block is thrown or not is immaterial.
We're not going to flyspeck this thing. If three guys happen to wind up on the same line together quickly, moving on to do other things, that's not a problem. The problem comes when players drop back to form this little wall, because the concussions take place when the kicking team players are coming down trying to bust up that wedge.
The NFL put this rule in for 2009. Their experience was a good one with it. They only had the foul occur about five times all year. Coaches are coaching away from it. We're telling coaches, Get that third man out of there. You run the risk of having this called if that third man is in there.
I want to show you a piece of video. What you're going to see is some kickoffs from last year. The rule wasn't in place last year, so this is all okay. What you're going to see is two views of each play, one from the sideline and one from the end zone. That was the sideline view. This first one, you'll see a three-man wedge. This is a good view from the end zone.
See these guys dropping back at about the 15-yard line. That would be a foul this coming year for these three guys intentionally dropping back to form that wall to block for the receiver.
This is the same game, different play, again at about the 15-yard line. Sometimes the three guys hold hands. We're having the line judge, who are at the two pylons, be primarily responsible for this call. The referee is at the goal line. He has secondary responsibility. They're obviously dropping back to block. That would be a foul in 2010.
This next one is a different game, but similar kind of thing. They start to look alike after a while. You can see that there they are, four -- three at least. Three or more is the foul. This would be expensive. It's a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul, or if the ball is down behind the wall, it's from that spot. It's whichever those two is the worse. It's an expensive foul.
We'll see one right here in a second. You can see how expensive this would have been. This was a nice return. We would have brought that back and penalized that from the spot of the foul.
This play, the play results in a touchback, so there is no foul. Everybody sort of stops. You might see some action there. If we have a flag and the play results in a touchback, we'll wave off the flag. There will be no foul. You'll see the ball go into the end zone. It either bounces in the end zone, it's dead, or if he downs it back there, it's also a touchback.
This next one is a two-man, and that's okay. You can see the third man doesn't get in close enough to be a problem. So you'll be able to see this from this end zone view. This is at about the 15-yard line. See that? Sorry, my bad. That was a three-man. That would have been a foul. This one I believe is the third man is not close enough. The previous one would have been a foul.
The third man is off to the right, well outside the other two. So that would be okay. The third one is far enough away.
Let me show you one more two-man and we'll bring this to a close. You can see there's nothing there. They're not close enough at all.
We can stop the video now.
That's the rule. We don't expect to see it very much. We're not going to flyspeck it. We're not going to overanalyze it. If it presents itself to us as a foul, we will.
There's a slight modification of the rule that calls for stopping the clock when a player goes down with an injury. Always in the past we've stopped the play, the medical personnel would come and attend to the player. If he did not leave the game, it would cost the team a timeout. The only time we've really sent a player out of the game was if he was bleeding.
This year, any injury at all, any injury at all, the player must leave the game; he must stay out for at least one down. He cannot come back into the game until the professional medical personnel on his sideline has approved him to come back in.
The officials and coaches are in a recognize-and-refer stance: recognize the injury, refer to the medical people. We're asking people also to be particularly attentive to signs of concussion, players woozy, getting up slowly, his eyes aren't focused.
The medical people tell me it's perfectly possible to have a concussion and not exhibit any signs of a concussion, not any obvious signs. So to be on the safe side, we're saying any time a player is injured, we stop the game for the injury, he's got to go out and can't come back until the medical personnel approve him.
Finally, as you have undoubtedly heard, in instant replay this year, we're going to high-definition, with high-definition monitors in the replay booth. The XOS has a display set up out in the hallway area here with high-definition instant replay. You may want to take a look at that. It's obviously going to give a much better look on some things in the replay booth. We feel that some things that may or may not be as visible with standard definition, we'll be able to see those better in high-definition.
Also people at home are watching the game at high-definition, so are you. We might as well have high-definition in the replay booth because that's where the decisions are being made.
That's it, Charles. Thank you very much.

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