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New Jersey High School Officials



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This may very well be a correct ruling of a first down but absolutely horrible mechanics and optics for the crew. Doing what they did warrants the criticism they are getting. We often say you would rather get the right call and look bad than get the wrong call and look good. That's not true in this case.

Here is what I think happened. Crews often use the lines on the field to rule on first down. If they started this series with the ball touching the back of the B22 then if the ball reaches the B12 it's a first down. From this angle it clearly appears the ball reaches the back of the B12. The R likely knows this but decides to do the measurement as a PR move since it's 4th down in the 4th quarter of a close game. Once they extend the chains and it goes beyond the ball he realizes the chains are wrong. The next thing he should do is verify the clip was put down correctly. It's possible it could have been clipped on the back of the line but placed on the front of the line by the H. If you can confirm the clip is on the back of the line and still long then check the back stake and make sure it's in the correct place as well. If it doesn't go to the back of the B22 the clip may not have been placed on the right spot on the chain. This is all assuming the clip guy (maybe paid with a hot dog and soda at halftime) put the clip on that set of downs. This is also all assuming the crew the checked the chains before the game. We have chains that were a few links too short or too long and we had to correct them.

As Bob mentioned the measurement mechanics were horrible on this play and contributed heavily to the criticism this crew is getting. As soon as you decided to measure the back judge should get down and secure the ball. This crew left it there for anyone to move it. We can't see what's happening back at the B20 where the clip is hopefully located. The L should be there with his foot at the spot where the H should place the clip. The U does grab the front stake like he's supposed to and puts it down on the press box side. That's about the only thing does correctly here. The R should be on the other side and ruling on where the ball is in relation to the stake. He should not touch the ball or the stake before ruling. That is horrible.

But I do believe the correct ruling here was a first down. Use the lines on the field. The ball reached the B12 clearly based on the spot. Signal and move the chains. If the coach asks for a measurement tell him we don't need on because the LTG was the back of the B12 and they clearly reached that.

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@JustRulesthorough discussion of the proper mechanics above highlights the importance of using correct mechanics. To the people (some of them officials, unfortunately) who say “mechanics, shmechanics, all that matters is they got it right,” this is a great example of why that is a fallacy. Even if this crew got it right, by looking horrible while doing so they are letting themselves in for a tough rest of the night. Everything they do from this point on is going to be scrutinized, analyzed, and criticized. And they brought it on themselves.

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I scrolled back on the vid, the series started nose on the 22. The end of the run looked to clearly be to the 12, thus a first down. I understand the PR move, but seriously? Many moons ago when I was on the chains we had a crew chief that didn’t measure one time he should have and got gun shy and all of the sudden he wanted to measure everything within two yards. Until one night I think it was about to be our third measurement and he stops the clock and looks at me…..I just shook my head no and held up three fingers and said third down. After the game in the locker room we came to the agreement if I said take a look he could measure if he liked. As I said I get the PR move but if there’s no reason to measure it if the coach is just looking for another TO. 

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