Not any more

CFL’s officiating coming under fire – The Globe and Mail

In Canada on August 16, 2010 at 01:43

The first seven weeks of this CFL season have included some fantastic plays, terrific finishes and surprising records both in the good and bad sense.

But perhaps no topic is being as widely discussed around the league as officiating.

To be fair, officiating professional football is an extremely difficult job and rarely does a game in any league go by where one team doesn’t feel like they were on the wrong end of some poor judgment at an inopportune time

.

But conversations with coaches and general managers around the league reveal a level of frustration at the officiating this season that would be hard to exaggerate.

And much of it has to do with pass interference, and what teams feel is the inconsistent application of a series of rules that can be punitively devastating. (Although there are more than a few who have beefs about other the enforcement of other rules as well.)

Pass interference is among the most difficult calls to enforce in football, given the speed of which it occurs and the fact that officials aren’t always in position so see all that’s going on.

While each team has its share of specific instances to which it can point, the general theme of the complaints is the lack of consistency that has players and coaches scratching their heads about what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.

It’s up to head coaches to instruct their players how to not to draw flags that will penalize their teams and slow the game to a crawl. But the coaches say it’s hard to do that when they themselves aren’t sure how things are being enforced, witnessing a wide variety not just night to night and crew to crew, but also within the body of the same game.

And then there are the clear missed calls that have enraged so many.

In defence, CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins says the league is aware of the sense of displeasure regarding pass interference calls and is busy doing its reviews of all marginal calls so it can provide feedback to its officials. And Higgins believes the issue has gained public attention mostly because of slate of games during Week 6 in which there were a number of much-discussed pass interference calls made or not made in games that were all decided by less than a touchdown.

So what to do? One suggestion is for the league to take advantage of its pair of bye weeks to address the inconsistency by gathering groups of officials for what would be mini-clinics on the issue.

As one team official suggested, when a football team is inconsistent, the thing to do is gather the players together and try to make sure everyone is on the same page. And that person would like to see the league do the same thing with ga me officials during the CFL’s back-to-back bye weeks, in the West and East. Others echoed the sentiment.

Getting some clarification from the officials to be shared with the teams is the only way, some believe, that the teams can prepare their players to avoid the penalties that can easily decide games.

Officials aren’t perfect and sometimes controversial or missed calls are going to come in bunches.

But the fact that such consensus exists among general managers and coaches in the is proof enough that the league has lots of room to improve.

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