2022 Weekly Bulletin Week 4

The ball goes out of bounds

Notice that the rule says nothing about keeping the clock running when a runner goes out of bounds on his own, goes out laterally, or goes out of bounds on his own backwards (I’ve been told each of these many times during the course of my officiating career). The only time that we don’t stop the clock when a runner goes out of bounds is when the runner’s forward progress was clearly stopped inbounds and then the runner is subsequently pushed out of bounds. THAT’S IT. Stopping forward progress causes the ball to become dead, therefore the subsequent crossing of the sideline occurs during dead ball action and is not a ball going out of bounds. We have many crews who make it a point of emphasis to keep the clock running when the ball goes OOB. That philosophy is in direct conflict with the rule book, and you are definitely cheating the kids out of time.

Now, if you’ve got a 40-0 blowout and the game just wants to end, I can understand keeping the clock running. But other than that, if you are winding when you should be killing the clock, you are violating the rule book and cheating the kids out of time they deserve. Don’t be that guy or girl.

A less impactful but still an action that results in cheating the kids out of time is when R is winding the clock immediately after a 1st down is declared. The clock should not be wound until the ball is ready for play.

Rule 3-4-2 States “The game clock shall start with the ready-for-play signal on a down beginning with a snap if the game clock was stopped for any reason other than specified in Rule 3-4-3 or an untimed down:

  1. 3-6-1b States: The ball is ready for play:
    1. When the ball has been placed for a down and the referee marks the ball ready for play after giving the ready-for-play signal as in 3-6-1a(1);
    2. Starting immediately after the ball has been ruled dead by a game official after a down, the ball has been placed on the ground by the game official and the game official has stepped away to position as in 3-6-1a(2).

This means that if A achieves the line to gain inbounds, the game clock should start once the ball is properly placed for the next play and the game official has stepped away to position. If the ball is ruled out of bounds. The game clock starts on the snap.


  • The Clock is a Crew Mechanic – Here are just two examples of when an official is the primary official on the crew for monitoring the clock:
    • Time Out – If you award a time out you are the primary official to be sure clock is stopped and the correct time if it doesn’t stop right away.
    • Penalty – If you call a foul, you are the primary official to be sure clock is stopped and the correct time if it doesn’t stop.
      You may be the ONLY official on the crew that has knowledge of the instant a time out or foul has been called!


  • UNS vs Personal Foul– I have heard that there is sentiment among certain crew chiefs that illegal personal contact fouls as in 9-4 are being penalized as UNS in order to “send a message” and have the player at risk of being ejected.  Please do not do this.  If a player is ejected, then I will not be able to support the ejection by rule.  If a player is a constant challenge, then any personal foul can be elevated to flagrant if there is a risk to the opponent of severe injury.  It’s possible the second personal foul by the player is deemed flagrant.
  • Disconcerting Act– LB threatens the offensive line several times in an intimidating way as the offense is in punt formation.  This is a relatively new foul.  Dead ball foul and a 5-yard penalty.  Do you know the signal?  It’s the old Illegal Equipment signal.
  • Tips for Head Linesmen– Always check the chains!  Recently a HL, during the pre-game instructions to the chain crew, checked the length of the chains and discovered they were two lengths too long.  A plastic zip tie was used to make the adjustment prior to the start of the game.  Do you carry a zip tie in your pocket or better yet in the lining of your hat?
  • Inbounds Spot Following a Free Kick – Team A can only designate the lateral position of the snap following a touchback. The inbounds spot for a free kick out of bounds when the penalty is accepted is the nearest hash mark (4-3-5).
  • Illegal Motion– There are only three illegal motion penalties:
    Motion is toward opponent’s goal line
    Two players in motion at the snap (if one stops then it would be illegal shift)
    Player in motion who was on the LOS when he started and who is not 5-yards behind his LOS at the snap
  • Flags and Penalty Enforcements– During all Penalty Enforcements; leave the flag(s) on the ground until the penalty has been marched off/enforced. Multiple fouls for the same foul; match the flags, one on top of the other, this excludes Dead Ball line of scrimmage fouls.  The Back Judge should be involved in the coverage of flags.  Get in and out of Penalty Enforcements, cleanly and efficiently.


  • Inadvertent Whistles
    If during legal forward pass, snap is in flight, or during a legal kick – replay the down.
    If the ball is in player possession, that team has the choice of possession at the dead ball spot, or replay the down.
    Same two options for the team last in possession if following a backward pass, fumble or illegal forward pass or illegal kick.
    Accepted penalties take precedence over an IW


  • Eye Black & Rolled Up Pants– One single stroke under the eye.  No face paint.  Always check the back of the pants at the back of the knees.  Many times the player will roll up the back of the pant at the back of the knee so the pants will keep rising up.  When you fix during the pre-game, notice if the back is rolled up.  I learned this trick from Mater Dei in Santa Ana.  Please keep enforcing this in the pregame




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