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Thursday, July 17, 2008
ACC coordinator of officials on rule changes

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This guy was a special agent in the FBI for 26 years. He was a back judge for 30. Now he coordinates officials for 21 schools, including everyone in the ACC. Don't mess with him.

Doug Rhoads knows what he's doing, and he was kind enough to take time out of his day to discuss a wide variety of topics with me, Quantico and criminals included. (We'll get to that later).

First, check out some new rule changes coming this season, the biggest which will be clock-related:

"You no longer have the referee stepping up there marking the ball ready for play," Rhoads said. "It's already started at the end of the previous play. That's exactly like the NFL. So now, the team huddles, they come up to the line, they can be a no-huddle offense, be right up there and snap it when it's at 39, 38 or 37, or they can take the whole 40 seconds, come up to the line, call their play, look around, they can use all the time. It's up to the offense to determine the speed of their play rather than it being in the referee's determination of when it's marked ready. It's a good rule. It gets consistency. One referee may have been different than another."

There are about a dozen exceptions to the 40-second playclock, where it will be stopped or interrupted and 25 seconds will be put on it. Here are a few:

- A team calls a timeout
- A TV timeout
- Change of possession
- After a measurement
- If there's a replay challenge or a coach's challenge
- Between periods of overtime

When a player goes out of bounds, normally officials would stop the clock. Now, when they inbounds the ball and put it on the hashmark, they're going to wind the game clock -- not the play clock.

"If you just put your hand on the facemask or the helmet, that is not a foul," Rhoads said. "We used to have a 5-yard for a minor facemask. No longer. They're all 15. That's because you must grasp, pull or twist. That language is what makes it 15."

"These two offensive linemen, when one of them stands him up, there had to be a delay," Rhoads said. "We've eliminated the word delay in there, because how do you determine how much is a delay? Which guy hit first? What if the action comes from the defensive guy? It's harder to interpret so what we've done and what the NCAA rule has done is eliminated that delay. Now, any high and low, or low and high -- the low block can be first -- is a chop block."

Check back later for the latest on instant replay, what the officials got right, and what they're missing.