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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE MEDIA DAYS


July 17, 2013


Steve Shaw


HOOVER, ALABAMA

KEVIN TRAINOR: We're privileged to be joined this morning by the SEC coordinator of officials, Steve Shaw.
STEVE SHAW: Thank you and good morning. It's my honor to get us kicked off today.
Yesterday, the commissioner had primetime billing, I guess I'm opposite Johnny Manziel, so we'll see how that goes.
Let me start by saying I'm very proud of our football officials and the hard work and what they do week‑to‑week to prepare themselves. In fact, we've had a really, really good off‑season as far as preparation.
We had two very, very strong spring clinics. We just finished our instant replay clinic. We had a referee leadership session that went well. Many of our guys worked in clinics over the summer both as trainers and actually working in clinics.
It's been a very busy summer. From the end of last season, we do two quizzes per month to get everybody ready. A lot of guys have organized local study groups. All of this in preparation, will be culminated next week. We bring all our officials into Birmingham, we have a three‑day fall clinic to get them focused and set for the season.
We test and evaluate them. They have a conditioning, their favorite, mile‑and‑a‑half run. We work on mechanics, rules, knowledge, our points of emphasis this year. All of this is set to get us ready to go for our fall scrimmages so we're in full stride on week one of the season.
So my role today, we're going to step through the playing rule changes for this season. We have many to talk about today. As you see on the slide here, the NCAA has adopted a two‑year cycle for rule changes. This is the on‑year, meaning we have rule changes this year. In the off‑year, we can only have changes that impact player safety. But this is an on‑year, so there's a number of rule changes that we really get to.
Just one point of note so you know, all rule changes are voted on by coaches. Football officials do not get a vote, it's all coaches. What you're going to see here today is approved by the coaches and the Rules Committee.
Let's go to the first and probably the one that has had the most discussion. This is around targeting. Let me say to kind of intro into this, I worked 15 years as a referee in the SEC, before that six years in the Gulf South, this is my third year as coordinator of officials, so a long time dealing with officiating in the NCAA.
This rule change is probably the most significant rule change in my tenure ever. It has an impact on our game and is very, very important.
What we're talking about is targeting. The first thing is we have a foul and a penalty. Those things are very separate. Let's talk about targeting the foul first.
The foul itself hasn't changed. The targeting foul is when a player hits a defenseless player, we'll talk about the definition, but hits a defenseless player above the shoulders. Everybody says helmet‑to‑helmet, but elbow, anything above the shoulders, or uses the crown or top of the helmet to deliver a blow, that's a targeting foul. That hasn't changed.
Let me say that the definition of a defenseless player has expanded this year. We still have the same thing, the passer, kicker, receiver coming over the middle, a player completely out of a play, the things we've always had. But we've added to that list of defenseless players this year. Just a couple points of note, so now a kicker, the punter back there has always been a defenseless player during his punting motion, but now for the rest of the down, that punter is defenseless.
Just like now a quarterback who throws an interception, once the ball changes hands, that quarterback now, new rule, stays a defenseless player throughout the down. Doesn't mean he can't be hit. He can be blocked, he just can't be hit above the shoulders.
So the defenseless player expands the definition of what could lead to a foul. As we said, targeting is still the same as it was last year.
The huge difference, what's caught everybody's attention is, now the penalty enforcement for a targeting foul, it mimics our fighting rule. If you have a targeting foul that's committed in the first half of a game, then you're going to be disqualified for that game. If you have a targeting foul that's committed in the second half of a game, you'll be disqualified for that game plus the first half of the next game.
Playing time is a motivator to our players, and we think this will have a pretty significant impact. The rules committee really believes this will make a difference.
Now, on top of all of this, instant replay has continued to evolve over time, but instant replay is going to play a big part in this. This is an important foul, and if it's called, we have to be right 100% of the time.
Now we're going to use instant replay to go back and review every targeting foul that we have throughout the season. If in replay we see that there was no contact above the shoulders, then replay can actually put that guy back in the game, okay? So he can override the disqualification. The foul will still stand, we'll penalize that, but the disqualification can be overridden.
This was a signal in the rule book, but we rarely ever used it, but now you'll see if our referees give this signal, that's targeting, and that is what will lead to the disqualification.
I have a couple plays of video. These are some plays from last season, so ignore the teams. What we want to do is let you see the type of hits our guys are going to be looking at and focused on to penalize.
As we roll the tape, this first play, many will remember this play. It was in our opening game last year. This is the type hit that we've got to make a change on. You're going to see a couple good replays on this where you see the player really launch and go high right into the helmet.
Our rule about the helmet coming off, this player, because there was a foul committed here, he doesn't have to go out of the game, 87. That's the type targeting foul we want to get out of the game, okay?
Again, you see a number of views of it. 23 is going to have to learn to lower his target in this situation.
Here is a play from another game. Again, we'll get some replays of it. Player behavior here, this guy is happy, chest bumping. This is where I think the penalty will change this. As you can see, a launch right into the head, these are what we call compass plays, that's the type of hit we want out of the game.
I didn't mention this. A player receiving a blindside block now becomes a defenseless player also.
Here is an example of a player getting a blindside block high. You're going to see a couple replays of this. So it doesn't mean now on these type blindside blocks you can't make a hard block, you just have to stay off his head, lower your target again.
This is last year not necessarily a foul. This year, by rule, because he goes high, is a foul.
What you're going to see here, this is going to be the illustration of instant replay, live action, boom, looks like a wicked hit, our officials have a flag on this. Now this is going to be the type play reviewed by instant replay. As you can see there, what we call in the replay booth, the money shot, right there, that's a legal hit.
In full speed, everybody saw it, it didn't look like a legal hit. This is the type play, indisputable video evidence where he's not hitting him in the head, we would put this player back in the game. That is the type foul that we're going to be looking for.
The rule book says, not Steve Shaw, the rule book says when in question, it is a foul, okay? So that's why we have that great back stop of instant replay. It's going to put a little more, I don't want to say pressure, but impact on our replay guys to get it right.
I had a question of the SEC Championship trophy, would that be a targeting foul? Everybody is focused on this.
Let me say two things more on targeting. Number one, almost like a three‑legged stool, there's three components, three participants that have to make a difference here.
Number one is coaches. Coaches have to teach head‑up tackling, see what you hit, lower your target.
Players have to execute what they're being taught.
Finally, if the player doesn't execute it properly, the official has to have the courage to put the marker on the ground. Our expectation is that they will.
What I hope with this is that this gets through to the players, they change behavior. If you remember a couple years ago, we all had the change with our unsportsmanlike conduct, bringing touchdowns back. Let me tell you, we talked about it a lot. Once we got in the season, it became no big deal. The players changed their behavior. Except for an Australian kicker at LSU, that would have almost gone unnoticed.
I hope this makes the same impact. We'll see. But significant change as we lead into the season.
A couple other changes, I'll hit these quickly. Blocking below the waist has been redefined completely. I won't get into the technicalities, but the concept you'll see in the open field, to block below the waist, you have to do it from the front. We're defining that between a watch hand, 10:00 and 2:00.
We have a 10‑second runoff now. If we have an injured player in the last minute of the half or end of the game, and it's the only reason stopping the clock, there's a 10‑second runoff potential. This will get a lot of air during the season. There's a minimum time to spike the ball.
What does this mean? If we have a temporary stoppage, a team is trying to score, make a touchdown, we stop the clock, but we're going to restart it. If there's three or more seconds left on the clock, they're allowed to spike the ball. If they do it properly, they could have time left for a last play. But if the clock reads two seconds or one second, then there's time for only one play. So most likely you wouldn't want that one play to be spiking the ball.
This will make it more consistent. The quarterback will know, if he looks up and sees two seconds left, he's got to run his play, he can't spike it.
We've expanded unsportsmanlike conduct from this perspective. We always had a rule if you get two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in a game, you're suspended or ejected from the game. Now these plays, after the ball is dead that are like, you know, these little skirmishes that aren't big hits, we're not talking about a late hit in the pile, but two guys kind of chicken fighting, whatever words you want to use, that's offsetting fouls, almost like no harm, no foul. But even if it's offsetting now, that will count as each of those players unsportsmanlike, so if they do it again they would be ejected from the game.
Then a good change I think, helmets off. Last year the player had to go out of the game if his helmet came off. Now if a team has a timeout, they can take a timeout and get the player back in the game.
A couple changes on uniform numbering. Two players in the same position can't wear the same number.
A couple rules changes on kick plays as far as enforcement. Replay in addition to being able to looking at a targeting foul, now at the end of any quarter, it used to be at the end of the half and game, they can look is there time remaining on the clock. We've expanded that.
A couple minor changes that you probably won't notice. But a lot of stuff there.
The national points of emphasis, this won't be a surprise, targeting and dangerous contact fouls. That's number one, what we expect our guys to make calls on. Coach's sideline behavior, all 14 coaches are great to work with, but a national point of emphasis to keep our sidelines in good shape. Still a focus on unsportsmanlike conduct.
So a lot going on from a rules perspective. Like I said, probably the most dramatic change in my career is around the targeting foul. We're very dedicated to making sure we make correct calls there.
So here is the bottom line for me as you head into the day. The world and you demand perfection from our football officials and our instant replay officials. This is a noble goal‑ tough goal, but a noble goal. What I want you to know is our guys are really good, and we strive to improve every day, every week to get better so we can match our teams.
I want you to know, you have my personal assurance that our officials are going to work hard and work our plan basically around preparation, execution of our strong on‑field philosophies, then a continuous learning process with video after that game to stay the best officiating conference in America.
Bottom line, our conference demands that we're as good as our teams. A big challenge, but we're excited about the season. We kick it off for us next week and we're ready to go.
Thank you for your time. We appreciate the support you give our officials.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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