Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Tuesday July 26, 2016

Bill Carollo

Director of Officiating

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Bill Carollo.

BILL CAROLLO: Good morning. It's great to be here to talk a little bit about the postseason, last season as well as some of the new rules that will be coming this fall. It's an honor to lead one of the greatest officiating staffs in the premier conference in the country.

The game is changing and it's being challenged in some unique ways, especially for our officials. Keeping up with these challenges and changes is a big responsibility for our officials. As you've seen and heard in past media days, our officiating program's foundation is a continuous improvement based on training technology and accountability. Being transparent especially with the media is really important to the Big Ten Conference. Being open to coaches, athletic directors in the schools when we do make an error in the game is critical to our success. The integrity of the program is at stake.

Having the properly trained men and women on the staff is really the key to our success. I think we're in a good place today with regard to our staff that's diverse, athletic, competent to manage the toughest games on the biggest stages.

With that being said number one priority and really our number one responsibility is player safety. And as I mentioned we have a great training staff. We also have a great video staff led by Tony Buyniski. And that staff puts together the technology that we need to do our job, the training part of it. It's a collaboration with the coaches.

And I think today that collaboration with our coaches, the athletic directors and the conferences around the country all put us on the right page, the same page so we can communicate and make sure that we were all on the same pace to make the game better. We use the best technology available but still we're a long way from being perfect.

Our game continues to grow. Our players are bigger and stronger and faster than ever before. We must also, as officials, continue to grow. And improve. It's a game played, coached and officiated by humans. There's never been a perfect game. Last season for an example we had 17,762 plays in the Big Ten. That's a lot of plays, a lot of opportunities to make mistakes.

In those plays, we had 225 replay stoppages. And of those stoppages 34 percent were reversed. If you look at the total context, the global look of the whole season, 17,000-plus plays and getting 25 plays stopped and corrected is a phenomenal feat as far as accuracy when it comes to officiating. Each play you could have multiple mistakes.

And I'd like to focus on the positives, when we do throw the flag, we're about 96.5 percent accurate. When it goes to replay, yes, we did reverse 34 percent, which is just a tick over the national average, but we're getting the plays right.

Of those 225 plays that we had, nine percent of them involved targeting. As I said, player safety is our number one responsibility and concern. So you'll see several rule changes that have to do with player safety this year and I'm going to highlight those hopefully that will promote a few questions.

But basically I think -- if I could get that to move -- player safety. I want to talk about a couple of key areas. Maybe six. We have about a dozen new rule changes this year. But a half of them pertain to player safety. So the first one I'm going to talk about is blocking below the waist.

In years past, blocking below the waist in college football was legal. Today, blocking below the waist is illegal with a few exceptions.

So we've kind of flipped the whole rule around in the last couple of years. And blocking below the waist, we tightened that up, even at line play. We've moved the legal blocking zone into the tackle boxes. You have to be stationary and to block low from the side, you have to be in the tackle box.

The ball has to be in the tackle box. Once the ball leaves, once the player leaves you have to hit from the front, the contact has to come from the front. So we're restricting the low blocks more so than we have ever in the past. Sliding ball carrier has been our tenth category for defensive players.

So if the ball carrier slides feet first, he gives himself up, he's a protected player. He's a defenseless player. What does that mean? He goes into the category with targeting. So we've expanded targeting. It isn't just the quarterback. It isn't the punt returner. It isn't the defensive wide receiver. We have ten players, categories, that they become defenseless and once that happens then they become part of the targeting rule. Tripping the ball carrier has also changed this year. So look for that. Tripping has always been illegal in college football, with one exception. You could trip legally the runner. We've had too many injuries with players being tripped, leg whipped, broken legs, out for the season. So we made that change. And I think that's a good one for college football.

Targeting, we're expanding targeting. We're trying to get it right. It's our most important call. It's our most severe penalty. Not just the 15 yards, but the disqualification part of it.

So from that standpoint, targeting will be expanded. Not only will the officials continue to err on the side of safety, throw the flag when we have to, and if it gets reversed I'm okay with that. We want to get that call right. But we're giving the replay official more authority in the booth to look at all aspects of targeting, not just whether was it with force not was it the crown not was it below the shoulders but was he defenseless, that's a key area. It's a judgment call was this player defenseless. We put it in categories make it easy for the officials and make it easy for the replay official. Of the 17,000 plays we had last year, I say nine percent had to do with targeting. We missed one during the season that I felt our graders felt that we should have had a flag down disqualified a player. One during the regular season out of 17,700-plus plays and one in the playoffs -- in the bowl games.

So we don't miss it too often. But when we do, when it's really an egregious error, a big miss, we're now going to give replay the ability to stop the game, review the play and throw the flag. Now replay can create a targeting fall. So that's new this year.

And all these changes have to do with player safety. Medical observer we put that in last year and the Big Ten really led that experimental rule on medical observer, a medical trained physician, doctor could stop the game and not be involved with the timing rules, timeout charge or the ten second run-off for medical reasons we'll stop a game if a player is in danger out there, if the expert thinks that he's injured and we can stop it and now that rule has become a regular rule in the rule book this year. Not experimental rule.

I want to talk one last rule this year and it's about collaboration. Collaboration is an experimental rule for replay. There's really two flavors of collaboration. You've seen a lot of the professional sports go to a command center, collaboration, every replay goes there.

That's one element of replay collaboration that will be available for college football this year. And then the other one is in stadium collaboration. We're going to take in all Big Ten games this year, some selected mid-American Conference games, we are going to have the referee come over to the sideline on every single replay as normal, put the headsets on but we'll provide them with a monitor to look at the play with the replay person upstairs and they're going to collaborate together, taking one of our best people on the field, the head referee, collaborating with replay, and our attempt, our goal in this experiment is to see if we can get a little better, even one or two percent better, look at all replays, but most importantly for those targeting calls to make sure we get those targeting calls correct.

We erred on a couple of them we threw last year. I would have preferred we didn't throw the flag or I would have preferred we overturned or reversed that call. But the default is when in doubt throw the flag. If you're not really sure if it's not indisputable video evidence we're going to the play stand. We want to change player behavior. I think the coaches should get all the credit. We spend a lot of time with the coaches and the teams teaching them what we're going to call and what the rules are and the intent of the rules. But I think the coaches have got -- the big hit out of the game.

But we now we're still tweaking this, we want to make sure we still protect these players, they're faster, stronger and they're launching, they're playing off their feet today. It's a tough game. It's tough to officiate and we understand that and that comes with the territory.

So we're going to use the referee and the replay person up in the booth to collaborate and try to get that called properly.

I like that idea. I think, in my personal opinion, I think the idea of keeping the call, the final decision on the field with trained officials on the field, trained professions in the replay booth, is a good solution, a good stepped approach as we move forward in this targeting area.

Let me pause there. I know the media has a lot of questions during the season for me. So obviously I'm going to give you an opportunity to ask a few questions with regard to the new rules or our program or anything that you have with regard to officiating the program.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #2 by #19 at 2016-07-26 16:31:00 GMT

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