The SEC celebrity coaches are going to be in for something of a rude awakening this fall if an officiating emphasis plays out like it is supposed to.
The buzzword being used by officials is “heightened”, but basically, the crews will be performing the job that they should have been for the last decade or so and they will be instantly flagging any coach that comes onto the field to dispute an officiating call.
Coaches that step past the white paint of the sideline will be flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, costing their team a 15-yard penalty. The crucial piece of information here per the SEC’s coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw is that the zebras are not about to play favorites or shy away from the media darling coaches that are dotted throughout the league.
“If a celebrity coach comes out, and we don’t flag him, it all falls apart,” Shaw said. “Some coaches may need a personal ‘get back coach.’ ”
The extension of this is that any coach picking up two unsportsmanlike flags will be ejected from the game.
This is a change – or emphasis – that just had to happen. The SEC has visibility as the greatest football conference in the country, yet at times some of the coaches act like nothing more than petulant teenagers. There has long been a thought among the coaching community that the big money coaches are treated differently in this regard, able to get in the faces of officials and fight out calls with little to no consequences.
Now that will change and as the league is looked up to by so many kids and adults it is a positive change. Watching Nick Saban or another high profile guy going on one a referee just sets a bad example. This then trickles down through to high school and youth football and before long you a faced with a complete lack of respect at all levels of the game.
It will be very interesting to see what happens when we hit the first controversial call at a huge moment in a big game, but for now, we will take the officials at their word and hope for an improvement in 2017.