Author Topic: Becoming a White Hat  (Read 763 times)

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Offline ilyazhito

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Becoming a White Hat
« on: September 06, 2019, 08:34:14 PM »
Out of curiosity, I read the Football Zebras article about how the NFL chooses its Referees. In the article, it says that Referee candidates were usually white hats in college with experience being successful at another position in college before becoming college white hats. NFL white hat candidates also go through specialized training in the offseason, and sometimes get the opportunity to be the Referee on a crew in the preseason for a single game, with the crew's regular Referee serving as a mentor/resource for that game. Is there a  similar process for how one goes about becoming a Referee at the high school or college level?

Offline HLinNC

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2019, 06:32:01 AM »
I would say the process is similar, although less formal for HS.  The two major ingredients would be 1) is the person interested in being a referee and 2) do the leaders of the organization wish for them to be one?  They will identify the traits- leadership, organization, temperament, and rules and penalty enforcement - necessary to being a successful WH.

At the prep level it kind of means starting over.  You might have been successful as a wing, U or BJ but now you are back to running a crew for youth games on Saturday.  Good established referees will usually start letting someone wear the white hat if there are multiple games in a day.  I've even stepped in at umpire, a position I have no intentions of ever wanting to work, just in case.  I feel comfortable enough after 25+ years that I could work any position in a pinch.  Knowing the basics of all positions is another trait that can help form a good referee.  As one progresses, they should once again work R at MS, JV, and then HS.

At the college level, prospects will normally get R reps during spring practice inter-squad scrimmages while experienced R's and conference supervisors observe them.

Offline AlUpstateNY

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2019, 10:59:21 AM »
I would say the process is similar, although less formal for HS.  The two major ingredients would be 1) is the person interested in being a referee and 2) do the leaders of the organization wish for them to be one?  They will identify the traits- leadership, organization, temperament, and rules and penalty enforcement - necessary to being a successful WH.

 Knowing the basics of all positions is another trait that can help form a good referee.  As one progresses, they should once again work R at MS, JV, and then HS.

Practical and sound advice.

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2019, 03:35:24 PM »
That makes sense for HS. How do future white hats get identified in college? Do they go to clinics like the Tom Beard clinic with on-field experience, and work on the field as white hats, or is there some other means?

AFAIK, a dual-level official won't be able to work youth games on Saturdays to become a HS Referee if he is also working college games on Saturdays. In some areas, high school associations do not officiate non-scholastic football, so the option of having the Referee prospect work youth games for practice is irrelevant. Thus, any practice for the R at the high school level would be confined to subvarsity games and scrimmages. 

Has it happened that an official works a non-referee position at one level, and the Referee position at the other (e.g. HS white hat, college deep official or HS short wing, college Referee)?

Offline bama_stripes

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2019, 07:44:23 AM »
Some (if not all) college conferences forbid their Rs from being Rs for NFHS games.  They donít want them getting the rules and penalty enforcements mixed up.

Offline HLinNC

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2019, 01:08:06 PM »
AFAIK, a dual-level official won't be able to work youth games on Saturdays to become a HS Referee if he is also working college games on Saturdays. In some areas, high school associations do not officiate non-scholastic football, so the option of having the Referee prospect work youth games for practice is irrelevant. Thus, any practice for the R at the high school level would be confined to subvarsity games and scrimmages.

Which dual level are your talking about?  A college official isn't going to work youth ball once he has attained that level.  He'll get his R experience from a) prior HS experience and b) spring and fall inter-squad scrimmages at colleges.   In our area it is getting more difficult for the college guys to work a HS game on Friday night anyway as the college supervisors are requiring them to be in town the night before the game. 

 College officiating supervisors and their game day observer staff will identify prospective referees from among their own officiating crews and initiate discussion on moving to that position.  While clinics may play some part, most of the guys I know got their college white hat in-house by their supervisor.  It is my understanding that incoming college officials are encouraged to be able to work multiple positions in order to fill whatever vacancy is available, rather than wait to get the call when, say, a U or BJ position might come open.

I know plenty of HS officials still working youth ball on Saturdays.  In our region, new R's will start there, move through MS on Wed & Thurs evenings, JV on Thurs night, then private school varsity on Fri or Sat, then on to public varsity on Friday night.

Offline Magician

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2019, 10:45:24 PM »
We have no limitation in our D3 conference for the Rs to not work R in HS as well. Of our 6 current Rs only one continues to work HS football, but the rest gave up HS over the past couple years. Ironically none of them were Rs in HS. They just happened to be identified by the supervisor as someone who would be good potential Rs. They got experience either through college JV games during the season or Spring/Fall scrimmages.

Our crews are self-formed in HS and we book our own games so anyone who wants to be an R can form his own crew and then go get games. Most have some experience at other positions and moved to R on their crew when someone or moved up in college. Occasionally someone will change crews to take over as their R, but that is rare.

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 01:12:14 AM »
AFAIK, a dual-level official won't be able to work youth games on Saturdays to become a HS Referee if he is also working college games on Saturdays. In some areas, high school associations do not officiate non-scholastic football, so the option of having the Referee prospect work youth games for practice is irrelevant. Thus, any practice for the R at the high school level would be confined to subvarsity games and scrimmages.

Which dual level are your talking about?  A college official isn't going to work youth ball once he has attained that level.  He'll get his R experience from a) prior HS experience and b) spring and fall inter-squad scrimmages at colleges.   In our area it is getting more difficult for the college guys to work a HS game on Friday night anyway as the college supervisors are requiring them to be in town the night before the game. 

 College officiating supervisors and their game day observer staff will identify prospective referees from among their own officiating crews and initiate discussion on moving to that position.  While clinics may play some part, most of the guys I know got their college white hat in-house by their supervisor.  It is my understanding that incoming college officials are encouraged to be able to work multiple positions in order to fill whatever vacancy is available, rather than wait to get the call when, say, a U or BJ position might come open.

I know plenty of HS officials still working youth ball on Saturdays.  In our region, new R's will start there, move through MS on Wed & Thurs evenings, JV on Thurs night, then private school varsity on Fri or Sat, then on to public varsity on Friday night.
Re-read the entire 1st sentence you quoted. I said that a dual-level official won't be able to do youth games on Saturdays to become a HS referee if he is also working college games on Saturdays. Now, there should be no confusion on which levels this hypothetical official works.

I was addressing the part of your post about starting over at the prep level, and commenting that it might not be relevant if the HS official also works college, or if he works for an association that only does scholastic games, without doing youth games.

In my area, college officials need to be at games 3 hours before kickoff. For some, it means overnight (or early-morning) trips from a HS game on Friday to a college game on Saturday. I work assignments at all deep positions, even though I am nominally listed as a Field Judge, to get more experience, and will occasionally work the Center Judge position in scrimmages, to practice for when I will eventually work games in 8-man crews.

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 01:24:12 AM »
Magician, the same applies to my area. Some of the EAIFO Southern Chapter Referees also wear the white hat for high school games. It makes sense that R candidates would work the position in JV games or scrimmages where little is at stake.

Mechanically, what are the biggest adjustments that a new R has to make from his black-hat days?  Obviously, the R will.have game management responsibilities he never had before (coin toss, game announcements, penalty options), but the biggest questions for me are the mechanics and mindset changes from a black hat official to an R. Some positions can help with becoming an R (back judge or other deep position, to understand the game/play clock, umpire and center judge for penalty enforcement, and center judge for watching the QB, tackle on one's side, and goal line responsibility on change of possession plays), but I would imagine that a prospective R would have to learn R mechanics from scratch, unless the Referee position does not.require the mechanics aptitude of the other positions.

Offline Etref

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 09:57:04 PM »
The biggest adjustment is penalty enforcement. A white hat must LISTEN to the reporting official, confirm what he heard. Then communicate that to the U then make an announcement of the foul and penalty.

Normally a ďblack hatĒ is telling what happened and then goes about his business while the R does his thing.
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Offline HLinNC

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2019, 10:30:29 PM »
Re-read the entire 1st sentence you quoted. I said that a dual-level official won't be able to do youth games on Saturdays to become a HS referee if he is also working college games on Saturdays. Now, there should be no confusion on which levels this hypothetical official works.

MS and JV should be adequate training to be a HS ref.  Those game days shouldn't interfere, at least here.

If you are already working the college level, wouldn't you already have access to this kind of info?

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2019, 11:59:22 PM »
I just got started doing college, so I don't quite know how things are run at that level yet. I know the day-to-day stuff that needs done, like registering for the CFO hub, taking tests, updating one's schedule, and responding to requests for offiials, but not much about more long-term stuff like how I might look to become a white hat or how to eventually move up the college ladder.

A new R would have to adjust his mindset on penalty enforcement, because he does the legwork of collecting options and informing the umpire (and center judge, if one is used) about how it is enforced, as well as announcing the penalty to the crowd and both teams.

Are there other mechanics adjustments, or is R a more mechanics-light position compared to others (fewer and more specific responsibilities)? I might get that impression, because R does not usually spot the ball (barring ball rotation on long incompletions or balls in the side zone when there is no Center Judge), or even touch it, except to signal the end of the period, and he is not responsible for any forward progress calls, except for the goal line in reverse mechanics situations. His keys also do not change much during plays from scrimmage (QB and one of the tackles).

Offline HLinNC

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2019, 08:03:50 AM »
In our area the college guys seem to start getting together in March for rules study sessions.  Groups like that are where you are going to best gain the knowledge you seek from what I've seen. 

Offline ElvisLives

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2019, 09:25:07 AM »
I detect a sense from some folks that somehow the R needs to know penalty enforcement better than everyone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  EVERYONE needs to know penalty enforcement, and all rules, for that matter, backwards and forwards.  Penalty enforcement is a crew thing.  For many years before I made it to FBS, I seemed to have a reputation of being a pretty good rules guy.  When I got to FBS, suddenly, I was just average.  And that was a good thing.
Regardless of what position you aspire to work, you gotta know the rules.  All of them.

Independent study.  Bulletins.  Weekly tests.  Study groups.  Clinics.  Officiating web/chat sites.  Ya gotta do 'em all.  And patience.  It won't happen overnight.  It will take time.

Quiet confidence is welcome.  Be careful making brash statements.

Robert   

Offline carol1995

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2019, 10:10:27 AM »
I detect a sense from some folks that somehow the R needs to know penalty enforcement better than everyone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  EVERYONE needs to know penalty enforcement, and all rules, for that matter, backwards and forwards.  Penalty enforcement is a crew thing.  For many years before I made it to FBS, I seemed to have a reputation of being a pretty good rules guy.  When I got to FBS, suddenly, I was just average.  And that was a good thing.
Regardless of what position you aspire to work, you gotta know the rules.  All of them.

Independent study.  Bulletins.  Weekly tests.  Study groups.  Clinics.  Officiating web/chat sites.  Ya gotta do 'em all.  And patience.  It won't happen overnight.  It will take time.

Quiet confidence is welcome.  Be careful making brash statements.

Robert   

Great information here.  When we report a foul to the R, we should tell the R what the foul is, what team and number it's on, and the enforcement.  For instance, "I have DPI on the defense number 25. It will be 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down."  That helps the R out quite a bit.  With all that information, he doesn't have to worry about figuring out the penalty enforcement.  He only has to worry about the words he will say over the microphone. 

Offline JasonTX

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2019, 03:27:52 PM »
Great information here.  When we report a foul to the R, we should tell the R what the foul is, what team and number it's on, and the enforcement.  For instance, "I have DPI on the defense number 25. It will be 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down."  That helps the R out quite a bit.  With all that information, he doesn't have to worry about figuring out the penalty enforcement.  He only has to worry about the words he will say over the microphone.

Well said by both.  I tell guys on my crew they better know the ends and outs of the foul if they are making a decision to throw a flag. 

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2019, 11:23:09 AM »
I detect a sense from some folks that somehow the R needs to know penalty enforcement better than everyone else.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  EVERYONE needs to know penalty enforcement, and all rules, for that matter, backwards and forwards.  Penalty enforcement is a crew thing.  For many years before I made it to FBS, I seemed to have a reputation of being a pretty good rules guy.  When I got to FBS, suddenly, I was just average.  And that was a good thing.
Regardless of what position you aspire to work, you gotta know the rules.  All of them.

Independent study.  Bulletins.  Weekly tests.  Study groups.  Clinics.  Officiating web/chat sites.  Ya gotta do 'em all.  And patience.  It won't happen overnight.  It will take time.

Quiet confidence is welcome.  Be careful making brash statements.

Robert   
+1 The Referee does need to know rules, penalty enforcements, and signals, as well as penalty options, but it should not be exclusive to him alone. If I am an R, and my deep official tells me (DPI, #23, ball is placed at the spot of the foul (or 15 yards from previous spot, or at the 2), automatic 1st down), I know better what to do. If I can tell the R "illegal substitution by B, 5 yards, 10 second subtraction potential (or "A might want this on the snap")", the R knows better how to collect the options and what enforcement option will we pursue.

Is the R position less mechanics-intense because the R's role is game manager? Do I understand the White Hat role correctly?

Offline ElvisLives

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2019, 01:00:48 PM »
Is the R position less mechanics-intense because the R's role is game manager? Do I understand the White Hat role correctly?

All officials have generally equally intense jobs.  While the R may not run as many miles in a season as a deep guy, he is the one that gets the focus of attention - during the game and after.  (The principal quality of an R is that he must be really good lookin', since he gets so much TV time.  ;)
Deep guys generally have fewer things to be concerned with, but the things they have are exceptionally critical (DPI, KCI, catch/no catch, inbounds/out of bounds).  The H and L have more to do than all other positions combined.  And they are the primary guys that have to listen to the sideline HORSE HOCKEY.  The U has to be really good at knowing and seeing holding, seeing chop blocks, numbering exceptions, etc.

The R has to be good at recognizing substitutions, managing the pace of the game, managing the clocks (with the B and S), ruling on pass or "empty hand", roughing the passer, running into/roughing the kicker, intentional grounding, as well as holding, and so much more.
The R - as crew chief - has additional administrative duties and responsibilities, on and off the field.  The R is the face and the mouthpiece of the crew.  That doesn't mean he is any smarter or talented than others on the crew.  I have worked with guys that did not want to be Referees, but were every bit as astute with penalty enforcement as any R.  The R has to WANT to be the R, to be the focus of public attention, and to be the leader of the crew.  When there is a crew decision to be made, he is the one to lead the crew to the right decision, or, when necessary, make that decision, popular or not.

But the R's rule/mechanics knowledge should not be superior to everyone else on the crew.  All other crew members should know all of the rules thoroughly, and not only the specific mechanics of their positions, but everyone else's too.  When you have that level of understanding of rules and mechanics, very little gets by the crew.


Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2019, 02:45:23 PM »
Re: sideline horse hockey, isn't that something that the F and S have to filter out as well as the H and L?

R has more administrative business and is the face of the crew, but his function is usually to relay calls by other officials (sometimes his own, for intentional grounding, roughing the passer, roughing the kicker/holder, or unfair acts) and to watch a specific area of the field. He might have goal line responsibilities on plays with reverse goal line mechanics (change of possessions, punts, potential safety situations). This is why it makes little sense that the R is often considered God in high school football. Is that due to bad training at that level, certain R's exercising their ego, or other factors?  There are certain times the R can play God (The R can change the clock status if needed to prevent a team from messing with the game clock to their advantage, calls on unfair acts not specified by rule), but as you say, ALL officials need to be knowledgeable about rules and penalty enforcement, not just the R (because he is the one that signals them). 

Offline Etref

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2019, 04:25:01 PM »
In HS you may have less talent available to put on the field and need a strong R to hold everything together. The higher you advance up, either playing or officiating the stronger all of the ďteammatesĒ are.
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Offline bama_stripes

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2019, 06:05:03 PM »
Well said by both.  I tell guys on my crew they better know the ends and outs of the foul if they are making a decision to throw a flag.

So youíre OK with letting an obvious (and potentially game-deciding) foul go unpunished because the covering official isnít sure about the enforcement?

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2019, 06:43:46 PM »
I'd ask the official to learn the enforcement, but I'll not let an obvious foul go unpunished if the calling official doesn't know the enforcement. I'll teach the enforcement, and have the calling official walk off the penalty with the U as I announce.

Offline JasonTX

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2019, 09:13:08 PM »
So youíre OK with letting an obvious (and potentially game-deciding) foul go unpunished because the covering official isnít sure about the enforcement?
 

My argument is if they don't know the enforcement how do they know it's even a foul.  It's my way of encouraging them to hit the rules and it has served me well.

Offline bama_stripes

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2019, 07:17:19 AM »
  My argument is if they don't know the enforcement how do they know it's even a foul.  It's my way of encouraging them to hit the rules and it has served me well.

I donít know what the sentence is for grand theft-auto, but I know you canít do that.

Look, I get what your goal is.  I regularly quiz my crew about enforcements, especially the less-frequent or complicated ones.  But I donít want them distracted during a game by worrying about such as that.

Offline peterparsons

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Re: Becoming a White Hat
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2019, 07:18:43 AM »
One thing I have found I need to to when working R compared to the other positions is the need to "play detective" sometimes. Each member of the crew will have a piece of the puzzle (a foul they've called, when it happened, the result of the play, the forward pass was first touched behind or beyond around the line of scrimmage, will 5 give us a 1st etc.), but it's usually R's job to piece it all together to work out what the crew is going to do or what options need to be offered to the coach.

It's also every other member of the crew's responsibility to know if they are holding a piece of the puzzle and make sure they bring it to the party.