ACC football games will have eight officials, not seven, in 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads said Monday that his league will use eight officials in all league games this season and that he sees no negatives in the move from seven to eight officials.

In an experiment, the Big 12 used eight officials in league games last season, putting the extra official -- which the ACC calls the "center judge" -- in the backfield on the opposite side of the referee. The Big 12 and Big Ten also will be using eight officials this season, while the SEC will have one eight-man crew.

"As the game changes, we need to look at (officiating) changes, too," Rhoads said during a session at the ACC Kickoff media event.

The center judge's main responsibilities including spotting the ball and getting the ball ready for play earlier.

Rhoads said he also expects that the positioning of the umpire will be changed "within a year or two." Presently, the umpire lines up a few yards behind the defensive line of scrimmage; the NFL changed the positioning of its umpires, moving him to the offensive side of the ball, starting with the 2010 season.

Rhoads also discussed rule changes that were passed in April and will go into effect this season. The NCAA approved a new rule to protect quarterbacks from hits at or below the knee, and it also tweaked the targeting call that went into effect last season.

The tweaked targeting rule removes the 15-yard penalty when the call is overturned on review. The rule had stated that a player called for targeting would be ejected and his team assessed a 15-yard penalty. If the call was overturned on review, the player was allowed to remain in the game -- but the 15-yard penalty still was marched off.

There were 92 targeting calls in FBS games last season and 32 were reversed on replay.

There is an important caveat: If the targeting foul is committed in conjunction with another personal foul, such as roughing the passer, the 15-yard penalty for that personal foul remains.

The new so-called "quarterback protection" rule is designed to protect what the NCAA calls "defenseless" passers from low contact. A violation will lead to a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Rhoads called it "the same exact rule that the NFL has." The NFL rule says "no defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction."

The new rule covers a quarterback who is in a passing posture, with one or both feet on the ground. In that situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit him forcibly at or below the knee. The rule does not apply when the quarterback has become a runner, even in the tackle box or when a defender is blocked into the quarterback.

Rhoads said 210 calls made by ACC officials were reviewed last season, with 49 of them reversed. The average time for stoppage of play in those instances, Rhoads said, was 64 seconds.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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