ACC: rules changes

Mailblog! (Part I)

July, 25, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

You asked, I answered. 

You guys have a lot on your minds, so I'm going to break it up into two posts today.

Let's start with Todd Dickerson, from Atlanta:

Heather, Great coverage on the ACC this year! I just took a look at the scheduling breaks article by Patrick Stevens. The main problem is the method is a catch 22. Is UNC really expected to finish second in the Coastal because they are that good, or because they don't have to play Clemson, Wake, and FSU? And this has a trickle down effect through the league. As a Clemson Alumni, I want the most difficult schedule possible, so nobody can say, "Yeah, you won the ACC but you didn't play VT."

Heather Dinich: Todd, it's a combination of things -- UNC was predicted by the media in part because of their talent, because of Butch Davis, because of the question marks throughout the rest of the Coastal Division, and because of their schedule. And if Clemson is gonna win the ACC, odds are the Tigers will have to beat the Hokies in the championship game to do it, so I wouldn't worry about that.

Michael, in Nashville, writes: Have you heard any of the rumors about Clemson's new super top secret uniforms, to be revealed at the CU vs. Alabama game. (this is how starved of college football i am, when i can't wait to see my teams new uniforms) Come on season, already!!!

Heather Dinich: My Clemson sources tell me they are just that -- rumors.

Chris, in Clemmons, N.C., writes: Does Wake Forest running back Josh Adams have the skills to become another Chris Barclay?

Heather Dinich: He's a little bigger than Barclay, but similar speed wise and because he keeps his head on a swivel, always looking one block ahead. The skills are there.

Jeff, in Atlanta, writes: Hi Heather. In your article detailing the numerous changes in ACC football this year, you mentioned the new clock rules. My question is, is this rule for ACC conference games or for all non-conference games at ACC venues?

Heather Dinich: Those rule changes were for ALL ACC games, Jeff -- conference and nonconference.

William Lang, in Wilmington, N.C., writes: I'm going to have to ask that you mention Duke just signed a 4* RB named Desmond Scott that originally committed to Rutgers. He's a big-time recruit. Carry on.

Heather Dinich: Done. Carry on.

Jesse, in New York, writes: What do you think Miami's chances are of surprising everyone this year with taking the Coastal Division? Is it me, or is the key to stopping Florida is by stopping Tebow? If you hit Tebow hard from the start, and take him out of the game how good is Florida really?

Heather Dinich: I'm not counting anyone out of the Coastal Division. As for Florida, the Gators were picked by the media to win the SEC, and Tebow is a huge reason for that. But there's no way his body can tolerate another 200+ carries in the SEC again this season, and they need to find somebody to help out in those short-yardage situations. Tebow isn't the only playmaker on that team, especially when WR Percy Harvin is healthy. And at least one other coach in the SEC thinks there is a quarterback in the league better than Tebow.

Pete, in Boston, writes: Can you do a post on the great work ATLeagle does. Or maybe do a guest blog for him. He can't seem to stop complimenting you on his blog ( and I think it would make him feel warm and fuzzy inside if you reciprocated.

Heather Dinich: Ha. OK, BC fans, I do owe a little shout-out to the Eagle in Atlanta, considering one of his blogs was proof to my editors I didn't spend the whole time at the pool at the ACC football kickoff. In all seriousness, one of my goals in the near future is to get a blog roll going for you guys, as well as some categories to sift through. Coming soon ...

Check back later today for Part II of the Mailblog.

The new clock rule, ACC officials

July, 22, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads was among the speakers at Tuesday morning's breakfast with the commissioner, and he went over the new rule changes for this season. The bottom line is this: There will still be about 70-76 offensive plays, but the game will be 10-12 minutes shorter.

The coaches spent much of their meeting on Monday talking about the new 40-second clock, and Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said "it's new, so it's got everybody on edge a little bit."

In time he expects everyone to like it.

"I think most of the coaches like it because it will standardize the game," he said. "In the old days, depending on what crew you got or what referee you got, the game might go really fast or really slow. Now we'll pretty much have a standard, where as soon as that ball goes out of bounds, as soon as they signal it out, that 40 seconds is going to go."

Grobe said the new rule will be tougher for offenses to get used to because the coaches and players will have to get back into position quickly. It's something the coaches started working into their practices this spring and will definitely incorporate into their fall scrimmages.

"If you're kind of hanging out on the sidelines, saying, 'Oh, what do we want to call here,' before you know it, it will start going 8, 7, 6, 5 ..." Grobe said. "You're going to have to be really careful how you manage the clock."

I spoke with Rhoads last week and went over a lot of what he addressed Tuesday, in addition to a few other topics. Every year there is turnover, which means new faces making the calls throughout the ACC.

Where does he get these guys?

It takes five years of high school officiating experience, plus five years of college football officiating experience at any level. Then in January and February of each year, he'll take your application. Rhoads has a designated senior official for each school. During the spring, prospective candidates are mixed in with veteran officials who rank their top three candidates at each of the 21 sites (Rhoads oversees the 12 ACC schools, plus Army, Navy and the Big South).

"In the spring a lot of what you're looking at are those prospective candidates," Rhoads said.
(This might explain why I've heard Ralph Friedgen complain, 'What are we paying these guys for?' during his spring scrimmages).

It's not an easy job.

"Each weekend when I'm at a game or in the command center, wherever I'm at, I walk out of there thinking, I hope we get it right," Rhoads said. "That isn't going to happen. There are always going to be mistakes. When you really evaluate the stuff, even the ones coaches submit, our observers submit or that we detect in the command center. Regardless of which, all plays are going to fall into three categories -- the coach is correct, we missed it; the coach is wrong, we got it right. And then there's that middle group, the judgment that you can argue about forever. Is it holding? Is it pass interference? Is that the right spot where the ball goes? ... The judgment that goes into it and the tough part is trying to put together each year a staff and then each week during the season consistency by the officials. What you hear most from coaches is just that -- they know that officials will make mistakes. The goal is to make very few of them."

So what gripes do coaches come to Rhoads with the most?

The two areas that prompt the most discussions are holding and pass interference calls.

"When it comes to judgment, that's where the gray area exists," he said.

And that's one thing technology will never be able to correct.