Football Officials,

After receiving numerous inquiries/requests and encouragement to start writing the weekly newsletters again, I reluctantly agreed to one stipulation; questions regarding rules and mechanics must be submitted by you the readers in order to provide me with your ideas/concerns as to what you need guidance or clarification on. When I stopped writing the newsletter last year it was done out of frustration as no one was submitting material for the newsletter, leaving it up to me to come up with ideas for discussion.

I am not going to guarantee a weekly newsletter as it will be determined by your feedback and inquiries regarding rules and mechanics. Let’s see how the first newsletter goes/is received.

Week#1 Observations:

Sam Knox asked me to share with you there were 31 ejections/disqualifications in week one games. None of the disqualifications involved coaches. As such, I was asked to review some of the disqualification rules with you. I offer the following review:

The biggest issue involving disqualifications usually involves the misapplication of Personal Fouls administered as Unsportsmanlike fouls.

Rule 9-4-1 identifies three rules that require disqualification.They are:

1. 9-4-1 … No player shall fight.

2. 9-4-2 … No player or nonplayer shall intentionally contact a game official.

3. 9-4-3j … Strike an opponent with his fist, locked hand(s), forearm or elbow, or kick or knee him.

Unfortunately, the other Personal Fouls do not carry a limit on the number of Personal Fouls a player can accrue before being ejected. As we know, any player deemed to have committed a flagrant foul is disqualified.

A disqualified player is not required to leave the field and it is recommended they be kept on the sideline under a coaches supervision.

Coaches on the other hand are required to leave the field when they are disqualified. In section of 9-8 Penalty section p.77/78, it states, “A disqualified member of the coaching staff shall be removed from the stadium area and be prohibited from any further contact, with the team, direct or indirect, during the remainder of the game. For failure to comply, the referee may forfeit the game.”

Another area that is not being officiated properly involves 9-8-3, p.77 which states, “ A nonplayer shall not be outside his team box unless to become a player or to return as a player. A maximum of three coaches may be in the restricted area. No player, nonplayer or coach shall be in the restricted area when the ball is live.”  The penalty for this infraction falls under 9-8-1k, Art. 3, p.77:

PENALTY: Nonplayer foul –

• First offense – (S15) – warning,

• Second offense – (7 – 29) – 5 yards.

• Each subsequent offense – (S7-29-27) – 15 yards .

Two unsportsmanlike fouls result in a disqualification of the head coach as he is required to control his sideline (9.8.3. Situation A p.98 CB).

Unintentional Contact (9-4-8 p.74) a separate foul area states, “Unintentional contact between a nonplayer and a game official in the restricted area while the ball is alive.” the PENALTY (p.75) : (S38) states, “ Unintentional contact with a game official in the restricted area – (S38-29) – 15 yards from the succeeding spot. For the second offense (38-29-47) – 15 yards from the succeeding spot and disqualification of the head coach.

Coaches Conduct (9.8.1 Situation D p.96 CB) In the first period, the coach for Team A commits an illegal contact foul by accidentally bumping a game official while the coach was out of the team box (9-8-3). Team A is penalized 15 yards. In the second period, the coach of A is penalized 15-yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul for disagreeing with a foul called by one of the game officials. RULING: The first foul is for illegal personal contact and the second foul is for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalties are not combined to force ejection of the head coach (9–4-8). This is a good example for knowing and keeping our foul enforcement straight and applied correctly.

Remember, when issuing an unsportsmanlike bench foul and the perpetrator is known, the UNS foul is assigned to that individual. If the perpetrator is unknown the UNS foul is assigned to the head coach. For those who also officiate basketball, sideline UNS fouls are not always assigned to the head coach as they are in basketball for the reason stated above.

Lastly for disqualifications, rule 9-8-1l states, “A substitute leaving the team box during a fight is disqualified. PENALTY: Nonplayer – (S27-47 P.77/78) – 15 yards and disqualification.

Ball Placement following a Foul:

Play: Team A has the ball on the left hashmark and commits a foul at the snap. The foul occurs on the line-of-scrimmage (LOS). A12 is tackled (a) behind the LOS, or (b) beyond the LOS. Where is the ball placed and where is the foul enforced from? The right or left hashmark? ANSWER: A foul that occurs at the snap and on the line of scrimmage is enforced from the previous spot (where the ball was snapped) as the LOS is not considered beyond the LOS (10-4-2d). Most of these types of fouls will be on Team A which should make enforcement easy. Should Team B commit the foul, the enforcement spot will still resort back to the previous spot because the foul and the end of the run did not occur beyond the LOS (10-4-2d).


Overall week one went pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised there were not many questions/calls regarding rule 10-4-4. Any time you have a question regarding a rule or mechanics procedure, please reach out to myself or one of the other Rules Interpreters. We are all happy to help answer your concerns/questions.

Regarding mechanics, in reviewing a number of HUDL game tapes most of you followed the new free kick mechanics. Some of you struggled a little bit with the recommended change in the pass coverage especially when the receivers were going beyond your initial coverage area. On one occasion, I observed a wing official stand in one spot as all the receivers went deep. The play resulted in a touchdown with the receiver who caught the ball going down the sideline. The back judge came over for help to determine whether the receiver was in or out of bounds when crossing the goal line. The back judge, when looking for help, found his wing official was still 30 yards behind the play. Each of you needs to stay focused to make the crew look good.

As I have always said. As the crew walks out of the locker room, put on your game face. Walk and act professionally. Sell yourselves. You only get to make one first impression regardless of how many times you have officiated at that location. Each game is a new first impression.

Have a great game this week and have fun.

Rick Karhliker

IHSA Head Football Clinician