published Friday, May 30th, 2014

SEC to use one eight-man officiating crew

NORMAN AT NIGHT

Tennessee's Sept. 13 game at Oklahoma will have an 8 p.m. EDT kickoff and will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, it was announced Thursday.

This will be the first regular-season meeting between the Volunteers and the Sooners. Tennessee defeated Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl after the 1938 season, and the Sooners prevailed 26-24 in the Orange Bowl after the 1967 season.

The Southeastern Conference will use one eight-person officiating crew during the upcoming football season. The other crews will remain comprised of seven officials.

SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said the eight-man crew will work a game involving every league team in order for coaches to experience and then evaluate the idea. The additional position will be called the center judge and wear a "C" on his back; he will be positioned in the offensive backfield.

The challenges provided by spread offenses have led to this experiment, according to CBS Sports, but it is not the result of more fast-paced attacks.

"People think we're putting the eighth official in so we can go even faster," Shaw told CBS. "That absolutely is not the case. The expectation is the pace of the game, whether it's seven or eight, will be very consistent across the board."

The Big 12 experimented with eight officials last year and will employ eight per crew again this season. Every Bowl Subdivision conference has been given the option of using seven or eight officials by the NCAA Football Rules Committee.

Shaw explained to CBS a situation involving seven officials on a play in which a spread offense sends five players out for a pass. Three officials would be positioned deep and two on the sideline, which would leave just the referee and the umpire for the pocket area and line of scrimmage that can involve eight to 11 players.

"That's a tall order," Shaw told CBS. "The early views are this eighth official helps us spotting the ball and managing the substitution process, but it's also an extra pair of eyes to officiate."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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