Offense Hurries Up, College Refs Race Them

So Clemson is playing hurry up offense in the National Championship game against Alabama.  It’s late in the first half and Clemson is rushing to beat the clock to get a late score.dabo

For some reason, now they have another competitor in the mix, in addition to the stingy Alabama defense.  It’s a group of officials that have gotten caught up in the speed in which the offense has assembled to snap the ball and now are racing to get the ball ready for play.

The problem is, there is no reason for the referees to be in hurry up mode.  Clemson is doing their best to be in position so when the game administrators are ready for play, the offense is in position to run their play.  An official’s job is to allow the chain crew to set the chains and whistle the ball ready for play in a timely manner.  At that point, Clemson can snap the ball.  Just because Clemson is rushing does not mean the chain crew and the referees have to as well.  I see week in and week out on Saturdays in the fall.  Why change the way things are managed in the final seconds of a half?

In fact, in the closing seconds of the half, the referees should be focused on managing the game and clock to ensure things do go off the tracks – taking their time to get things right.  Instead, the game clock mistakenly continued running after the first down was signaled for a few seconds – when it should have stopped according to the college rules.  Then, referees missed that fact that, while they scrambled around like chickens without heads, the clock started again not only before the chains had set, but before the ball had even been set down for Clemson to be able to snap it.  The fiasco took place in this video at the 1:07:40 mark.

By my count, the clock melted from 13 to 7 in the mishap.  It cost Clemson at least one opportunity to advance the ball and they settled for a field goal try without snapping the ball again.

During regular game flow, I counted 12 seconds between a first down time out signaled and a ready for play signal.  In those waning seconds in Miami, Clemson was afforded only six seconds, three of which had the clock running, before they called a timeout and kicked a field goal.  What’s the hurry?  For all the talk about “getting it right”, this was a big oversight.  In the NFL, yeah, you gotta get the ball down for the offense, but in college ball, that’s not the case.  Slow down.  Get the easy things right.  We all know the difficulty in getting the tough calls right.