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July 21, 2011

Steve Shaw


CHARLES BLOOM: We're going to start this morning with SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw.
STEVE SHAW: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm honored to be here. It's exciting to be leading a great group of guys in the greatest conference in America.
This assignment as coordinator of officials, this is really my dream job. I was previously a football official. I thought maybe I had a few good years left on the field. When this opportunity came open, this is exactly what I wanted to do.
I think my desire is really to take my on-field experiences and the talent within our officiating staff and really make these guys the best they can be. I'm not interested in us just being good; I want us to be absolutely the best we can be on every play, and that's our goal.
As only the seventh coordinator of officials since the Southeastern Conference began, just a few minutes to say I stand on some shoulders of some greats. I know from the father of SEC officiating, George Gardner, to our modern-day leaders, Bobby Gaston, Rogers Redding. They built a very solid foundation to build on. I'm humbled and honored to be following these guys.
I just want to talk a moment about coming in new, the new guy always has kind of his top priorities. I will tell you we've already been working hard toward these priorities.
The first is to build a strong on-field philosophy based on football officiating axioms, driving consistency throughout everything we do. We're going to expand our rules knowledge. We're going to focus on our mechanics and our physical conditioning. You're going to see physically fit guys out there.
And we're going to stay in the forefront of technology. We're going to utilize it really to help improve our performance on the field. That's what it's all about.
I want to take a couple moments to talk about technology before we get into the rule changes and differences this year.
First of all, I'd like to say a thank you to Commissioner Slive and the athletic directors because they've approved really an upgrade for our command center. We're going to have improved technology there. Working with our partner, XOS, we've spent the summer installing a new system there. We've been working with it and completed the upgrade. We're ready to go for the season.
I'll mention a couple things that really in the improvements, we'll have much better video archiving and database where we can recall plays and do queries. If we want a certain official on a certain type of call, we can bring that up immediately. That's going to be a great improvement for us. It gives us a virtual command center capability where things are web-enabled.
Video sharing for all our officials. I'm really excited about this. I'm really excited about this. We're going to build an intercut for training for our officials where we have the coach's cut, sideline, and the TV copy all built into one continuous play. I think that's going to really help in our training program.
A lot of capabilities with editing. The officials can go in and make their own training videos for their Friday night session. We'll be able to take HD from the schools on their coach's cuts. We're going to do something different with the coaches this year. They've always sent in plays they want reviewed from the conference office. Now rather than writing back an answer to them, we're going to do a voice-over. We can communicate so much more with them on that. We'll continue to do our weekly training tapes for the officials.
So a lot going on, a lot we've been working on this summer in the office.
This new video system is also going to allow us -- and we've worked to revamp our grading system, not just to grade the officials, but it's really for training and improvement the officials. I'm very, very excited about that.
It's been a very busy off-season. I've come in new. I've retired from my day job and I am full-time with the SEC now.
Just a couple things. We had two spring clinics for our officials. Spring is a time we work on our fundamentals, our mechanics. We did a lot of video work, worked on our philosophies. The first out of two, we're doing a "by position" referee clinic, Bill Corolla, my counterpart, he and I, we've paired together, Jerry Markbreit, who is a long time NFL official working with us. We're kind of doing a "home and home," once in Chicago, once in Birmingham, to improve our referees.
We've had a national replay clinic working on consistency with our replay guys, a couple coordinator meetings. We conducted our first media clinic. Really an interesting day where we had a few of your peers go through a pregame conference, then actually work on the field in a spring game. All I can say is it was fascinating. If you see a couple of your peers that worked that day, there were some fun stories coming out of that day.
I'll never forget, one of the media guys at the end of the day, we got back in the locker room, he looked at me and he said, You know what was the most incredible thing about today?
I couldn't imagine what he was going to say. I was thinking the speed of the game, duties on the field.
He said, That you guys are really pretty good guys.
I thought, What did you think before? But I didn't say that (smiling).
We did that. We have two quizzes a month starting in March for all our officials, concluding that in August. Actually our officials are going to be in for three days. This is our fall camp starting today. We're excited about that. We have our physical fitness assessment we'll do tomorrow. They do a mile-and-a-half run. They do all these torture agility drills. We'll make sure they're ready to go.
One other topic I want to hit, one of the challenges I will face, not just this year but really over time, that is transparency. Transparency in dealing with our officials and the calls. That's going to be a challenge I'm excited about, I'm taking on, and we're going to try to learn and grow incremental.
This year in pre-season we're going to start with a vignette on our SEC digital network. It won't just be looking at me, but more voice-over, talking about plays, looking at video, and hopefully educating fans a little bit more on what we do, why we do it. We'll see how that goes. Really determine how we drive transparency in a way that protects the conference, the teams, players and officials, and is good for the fans. So we're all about that as we move forward.
So let me now transition to talk about rule changes for this year. We have some that are significant that I will mention. We actually brought a little video. I think for us the best way to learn is video. We've got a young man that works in our video, Cole Cunningham, he's going to be running this.
The first change that we have this year, I know most of you have heard about this, is around unsportsmanlike conduct. Nothing is changed on what we call as a foul. But the penalty enforcement is significantly different. I want to illustrate this.
We have a play here we want you to look at. This is a play that is a touchdown play. You're going to see the guy make a good run and actually go into a breakaway. And now you will see when he gets near the end zone, he's going to begin to taunt the opponents. That was a penalty last year, and will be a penalty this year.
Here is the big difference in unsportsmanlike. He gets about to the 10 yard line. Official is in great position. Boom, he starts to kind of taunt the defender. Now this year, that official will drop his marker in this play on the 10 yard line. That year that foul would have been on the extra point or kickoff. Now we'll penalize it from the 10, go back 15 yards, it will be first and 10 from the 25, no touchdown on this play.
I think this will be something obviously the coaches will be talking to their players about. What we desire the outcome to be is we'll see less of this.
We have one other play we'll go through on video. Here is another breakaway situation. This is in a bowl game. Actually an SEC crew in this. On-side kick. Guy makes a great play, takes off running. Now, uh-oh, here we go. Again, like we had before. This is an unsportsmanlike foul. It was last year. But the difference would be there will be no touchdown on this play. You can see, the gentleman at about the one, that's where he launches from, that's where our marker will be. It was a heck of a flip, by the way.
You'll see it one more time as we run it through. There's actually two acts on this play. If you got technical, you could say he turned the flip, spiked the ball. Those two things are right there together. We're going to couple those as one foul. As you already know, if a player has two unsportsmanlikes in a game, he's ejected from the game. So we put those two together. He'd have to separate those acts significantly to have the foul. That's probably going to be the most visible change.
A couple other things I want to mention. So now the coaches will have TV monitors in the coaching booth. That will help them if they want to challenge a play. They'll be able to see the TV feed, just like people at home. They will not have any editing capabilities, no DVR, they'll get the feed from TV.
Another pretty significant change you may see in a game is we have a 10-second subtraction this year. If a team within the last minute of either half commits a foul that causes the clock to stop. Let's say a team is scrambling to score, clock is running, they come up, false start, we stop the clock, then in addition to the penalty, there's the option to have a ten-second subtraction. The opposing team gets to make that choice. They can say, if it was a false start, we will take the five-yard penalty and we also want a 10-second subtraction. If there were 22 seconds left in the game at that point in time, we'd take 10 seconds off the clock, reset the clock to 12, then wind it up.
If that happens when there's nine seconds left on the clock, the ballgame will be over. You don't see that very often, but it's a pretty significant event when it happens.
There's been really a significant change in blocking below the waist. I don't think you're going to see a lot of difference in number of fouls called, but it's worth noting that in the past in the rule book, blocking below the waist was considered legal except for a list of exceptions that most players really didn't understand all of them.
So the rules makers have actually flipped it. Now blocking below the waist is illegal except for some exceptions where it is legal.
So your interior line play, guys within seven yards of the ball, on the line of scrimmage, can block below the waist throughout the down. Backs in the tackle box can block below the waist throughout the down. But anybody outside that seven yards on the line or outside the tackle box in motion can only block below the waist on what we call the north/south line, or towards their adjacent sideline. If they lined up on the right, they can only block low toward the sideline.
This is really geared towards injuries, minimizing injuries. But it really sets a different tone for blocking below the waist. Now it's illegal.
A couple other things. There's now a rule you can't go block a player who is out of bounds. You can't initiate contact out of bounds. That's a foul.
If we have a disqualified player, they have to leave the playing enclosure completely. They can't stay on the sideline with their team. They have to go back to the locker room or wherever just to leave the playing enclosure.
Intentional grounding. A subtle change there, but pretty significant from an officiating standpoint. We all know if they get outside the tackle box, as long as they throw it beyond the line, there's no foul. Inside the tackle box, if they threw it away, they had to have a receiver with a reasonable opportunity to catch the ball.
Now they just have to have an eligible receiver in the area. Doesn't have to have a reasonable opportunity to catch the ball. You'll have a blocking back, he'll have his back to the quarterback, be blocking, maybe the quarterback dumps it at him. In the past that would have been a foul. Now he's in the area, so we would not have a foul with that.
And really a couple other editorial changes. One of the things you'll see is now 15-yard penalties are really reserved for only personal fouls, pass interference, kick/catch interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. So a lot of fouls like illegal batting, they've moved to 10 yards.
One thing you'll probably see now, the old signal for illegal participation, that signal is gone. That is no longer a part of our rule book. Basically what we've got now is everything, if you have more than 11 players on the field in the formation before the play, we're going to shut that play down and it will be a substitution. Anytime you have 12 guys on the field, it's now a five-yard penalty regardless. Even if you actually play with 12, it's still just a five-yard penalty, no longer 15.
So that's kind of a quick highlight of the rule changes.
I'd like to close with really a couple thoughts.
I know that you want perfection from our officiating staff. Our fans demand perfection. Obviously in the conference office, we desire perfection on every play in every game. But I have to tell you I cannot guarantee you that. But what I will guarantee you and expect from every official that we have working is a strong work ethic to improve every week.
We worked hard in the spring. We've worked hard in the off-season. I've seen a lot of the guys coming in today. They look better than they've ever looked. We're never going to look great, but they look better. They're trim, ready to go. We're going to work hard in the fall not only to improve but to be every game the best team on the field.
My goal, we'll give everything we have on every play. That's all.
Thank you very much and I look forward to the season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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