Author Topic: Sleeper Play?  (Read 2672 times)

Offline Badger1

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Sleeper Play?
« on: November 01, 2014, 08:35:34 PM »
Had a situation occur last evening during a playoff game I'd like feedback on.

Situation:  A runs a play on first down at their own 30 yd line for no gain. When the play was over, 3 subs entered the field and proceeded to the huddle (while the umpire spots the ball and the referee gives the RFP signal) while 4 Team A players then headed on a slow jog towards Team A's sideline as if they had been substituted for.  Three of the 4 Team A players left the field on their sideline while the 4th player stopped one yard from the sideline and then slowly turned his body so he was facing his line of scrimmage.  The Team A coach then started yelling at his offensive huddle to hurry and get to the line so they could snap the ball as the defensive players had assumed all four offensive players that had left the huddle had cleared the field.  That 4th player had no defensive player in position to defend him.  Fortunately a Team B coach saw this and had a time out called before Team A could snap the ball.

The player trying to hide out by the sideline was within the numbers when the RFP signal had been given.  I told my crew members I felt this was a "sleeper play" which would have been Illegal Participation, live ball foul, with enforcement at the previous spot had the ball been snapped.  The official on Team A's sideline said something didn't seem right as this formation developed but was unsure what he would have done at that time as the player hiding out was within the numbers when the RFP was given.  As a crew we have reviewed Rule 9, Section 6, Article 4d but still would like your input.  I guess we were lucky the defensive coach picked up on this right away as it could have been an easy TD pass to the undefended receiver. Thanks.

Offline Bwest

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2014, 09:15:22 PM »
Had a situation occur last evening during a playoff game I'd like feedback on.

Situation:  A runs a play on first down at their own 30 yd line for no gain. When the play was over, 3 subs entered the field and proceeded to the huddle (while the umpire spots the ball and the referee gives the RFP signal) while 4 Team A players then headed on a slow jog towards Team A's sideline as if they had been substituted for.  Three of the 4 Team A players left the field on their sideline while the 4th player stopped one yard from the sideline and then slowly turned his body so he was facing his line of scrimmage.  The Team A coach then started yelling at his offensive huddle to hurry and get to the line so they could snap the ball as the defensive players had assumed all four offensive players that had left the huddle had cleared the field.  That 4th player had no defensive player in position to defend him.  Fortunately a Team B coach saw this and had a time out called before Team A could snap the ball.

The player trying to hide out by the sideline was within the numbers when the RFP signal had been given.  I told my crew members I felt this was a "sleeper play" which would have been Illegal Participation, live ball foul, with enforcement at the previous spot had the ball been snapped.  The official on Team A's sideline said something didn't seem right as this formation developed but was unsure what he would have done at that time as the player hiding out was within the numbers when the RFP was given.  As a crew we have reviewed Rule 9, Section 6, Article 4d but still would like your input.  I guess we were lucky the defensive coach picked up on this right away as it could have been an easy TD pass to the undefended receiver. Thanks.

To me this sounds like using a substitution to deceive. I think your initial intuition was correct.

Offline Atlanta Blue

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2014, 09:38:11 PM »
9-6-4d:

It is illegal participation:

To use a player, replaced player, substitute, coach, athletic trainer, or other attendant in a substitution or pretended substitution to deceive opponents at or immediately before the snap or free kick.


Your's seems like pretty clear case.  You didn't even need a snap.  Give B their time out back and flag the offense.

Offline prab

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2014, 11:04:44 PM »
What AB said!

Offline Badger1

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2014, 06:42:10 AM »
But AB, isn't this considered a live ball foul?  If you killed it before the snap you would have to call it unsportsmanlike?  Rule book shows live-ball, previous spot.

Offline Atlanta Blue

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2014, 06:57:57 AM »
But AB, isn't this considered a live ball foul?  If you killed it before the snap you would have to call it unsportsmanlike?  Rule book shows live-ball, previous spot.
It's a good question, except the rule says it's a foul if you do it "immediately before the snap"?  Does that mean that's when it becomes a foul, or is it describing the time frame for when the action is illegal?

If it can only be called after the snap, then A benefitted by their illegal action here by forcing B to take a time out.  But then I wonder, "Can A fix this before the snap, or was the action itself the foul?"

Offline FLAHL

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2014, 08:15:48 AM »
Sounds like we need a case play to clarify this. If it's not a foul until the snap, then it could be corrected before the snap.  But, as AB said, the damage to B was already done because they were forced to use a time out. And if the intent is to deceive, how likely is it that it would be corrected prior to the snap?

Offline AlUpstateNY

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 12:20:24 PM »
Case Book 9.6.4.situation B addresses almost exactly this situation, and the RULING advises; "This play is illegal because a pretend substitution is used to deceive the opponents.  The penalty of illegal participation will be administered from the previous spot as the foul occurred at the snap (9-6-4c)[/b]

A KEY to understand is that there is judgment necessary as to whether there was an "intent to deceive", and that judgment is made entirely and exclusively by the Referee.  A wise coach would consider reviewing the details of any such play with the Referee before the game, rather than hoping for his concurrence with it's legality while being surprised by it during the contest

Offline Curious

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2014, 12:43:36 PM »
Had a situation occur last evening during a playoff game I'd like feedback on.

Situation:  A runs a play on first down at their own 30 yd line for no gain. When the play was over, 3 subs entered the field and proceeded to the huddle (while the umpire spots the ball and the referee gives the RFP signal) while 4 Team A players then headed on a slow jog towards Team A's sideline as if they had been substituted for.  Three of the 4 Team A players left the field on their sideline while the 4th player stopped one yard from the sideline and then slowly turned his body so he was facing his line of scrimmage.  The Team A coach then started yelling at his offensive huddle to hurry and get to the line so they could snap the ball as the defensive players had assumed all four offensive players that had left the huddle had cleared the field.  That 4th player had no defensive player in position to defend him. Fortunately a Team B coach saw this and had a time out called before Team A could snap the ball.

The player trying to hide out by the sideline was within the numbers when the RFP signal had been given.  I told my crew members I felt this was a "sleeper play" which would have been Illegal Participation, live ball foul, with enforcement at the previous spot had the ball been snapped.  The official on Team A's sideline said something didn't seem right as this formation developed but was unsure what he would have done at that time as the player hiding out was within the numbers when the RFP was given.  As a crew we have reviewed Rule 9, Section 6, Article 4d but still would like your input. I guess we were lucky the defensive coach picked up on this right away as it could have been an easy TD pass to the undefended receiver. Thanks.

Our rule of thumb in this (thankfully rare) scenario is that if B doesn't pick up the "hide-out", it's a flag at the snap.  "UpstateAl" gave us the relevant case book play (although I completely reject his statement that intent is determined solely by the R.  He, the R, probably hadn't even seen the sideline activity prior to the snap).  If however, B picks up the "hide-out", there is no foul.  The wing on that side, however, should have a quick "conversation" with the coach.

It's a good question, except the rule says it's a foul if you do it "immediately before the snap"?  Does that mean that's when it becomes a foul, or is it describing the time frame for when the action is illegal?

If it can only be called after the snap, then A benefitted by their illegal action here by forcing B to take a time out.  But then I wonder, "Can A fix this before the snap, or was the action itself the foul?"

I guess this is another "unintended consequence" of FED rules

Offline HLinNC

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2014, 02:02:33 PM »
Look anything like this play?

« Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 02:05:00 PM by HLinNC »

Offline Badger1

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2014, 02:29:33 PM »
Yes, very similar except the hideout player got to the sideline too early prior to the huddle breaking to go to the LOS so that the defensive coach observed the hideout player standing by himself on the opposite sideline and quickly called for a timeout. 

Offline AlUpstateNY

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2014, 03:36:20 PM »
I guess this is another "unintended consequence" of FED rules

I probably should have used "Game Official" instead of "Referee", as it is certainly more likely the wing official would be the game official to observe and notice the violation.  However, that decision is absolutely and positively THAT official's to make. 

There's no opportunity for a conversation, brief or otherwise, at this point.  The offending coach has until the snap to correct the problem, but at the snap whatever judgment has been made solely by that official will determine whether a flag will fly, and all the mea culpas in the world are unlikely to change that decision.

Again, the "wise" coach reviews ANY questionable plays with the Referee BEFORE the game, so he can share the details with other crew members. Whether he chooses to actually use any of those plays after that discussion is as far as his control goes.

Offline HLinNC

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2014, 06:53:06 PM »
Quote
Again, the "wise" coach reviews ANY questionable plays with the Referee BEFORE the game

Here's the problem with that.  How Coach Belichikispurrier tells us it is supposed to work and how it actually shakes out are two different things.  You tell them no, its illegal, and then they want to spend the next few minutes trying to lobby/cajole/convince you they are right.  I prefer not to know and just as soon wait and call what I see, if need be.

Offline AlUpstateNY

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2014, 08:45:38 PM »
That may work too, but often an, "an ounce of prevention can avoid a pound of cure."

Offline bama_stripes

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Re: Sleeper Play?
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2014, 08:04:02 AM »
Right or wrong, we're instructed to get this when the snap is imminent.  There's no way for A to make this legal without tipping their hand.