You’re a college football head coach. You deal with refs, it’s part of the gig. Sometimes they cause you to get a little…”hot-headed.”
If you’ve paid the slightest bit of attention to Nebraska football over the past few years, you’ve noticed that our head man tends to be…vocal when calls don’t go his way, but that doesn’t have to be.
At that moment, those wearing striped shirts are as likely to switch their decisions as the Lifetime Network is to televise a football game.
What needs to happen next is not only a brief, but complete breakdown of the blown call. As a coach you have to do everything you can to ensure said call doesn’t become a habit for those with the power to make it one.
Considering that you have 30 seconds at most before the next play is lined up, a coach’s personality can, and usually does bleed into his arguments.
When venomous rage comes out of your eyes after a call goes against your team, it’s time to step back and refocus. You need guidance, but no worries.
I’m here to help with five simple steps:
- Be 100 percent sure about what you saw: Not what you think you saw. The official sees the play at the same speed and has one chance to make the correct decision.
If you didn’t see the play from the same angle that the official did, you’d best be sure of what happened and push the issue. If you aren’t sure, realize it and call a mulligan. You’ve got as many things to worry about in that moment as the number of fans in the stands.
- When in doubt, ask: Like most people, officials have a reason behind their decisions even when they take a split second to call.
Some of my favorites are, “did the receiver get a foot down?” and “where should the football actually be spotted?” Instant replay will save a ref grief nine times out of ten, but when it comes to penalties, coaches have to put up with some interpretation.
Before you challenge someone’s decision, get an idea of why they saw what they did. Remember, you’re seeing it as a moment that helps or hurts your team. The official is trying to be as objective as possible (ideally).
An explanation doesn’t hurt. Unless you’re in College Station and Ben Cotton gets punched-Oh the flashbacks! Moving on!
- Explain your objections: It’s simple - You’re not happy about a call. The thing is, people typically don’t like being told they are stupid and/or wrong. They’d probably like to know your reasoning as to why they messed up.
Be concise and get your argument across, preferably without using four-letter words. The more understanding or gracious you are, the better your point will be considered. Sometimes a little passion’s called for, but pick your battles carefully.
- Remember that the official is human: They are going to blow calls sometimes. Fact of life.
It’s the human element and until they take it out of the game by implementing SkyNet, people will just have to deal with it. When errors do happen, get your point across realizing that it will likely tilt in your favor the next time the call comes up.
Maybe the call was the result of an alignment issue, holding or some weird offensive pass interference. If instant replay isn’t your friend, argue your case sensibly and move on.
- When calls even out, acknowledge it: The assumed laws of football averages state that for every play you get shafted on, you’ll get a make-up call.
Accepting this inevitability helps, and as backwards as it may be, so does the rationalization of the “law.” Just remember, when it happens a tip of the cap to your friendly, neighborhood referee won’t hurt.
Besides, there’s another play, another series and another game you’ll have to worry about soon enough.