The BCS and other bowls, in their infinite wisdom, employ officiating crews from neutral conferences. That is unlike what occurs during the regular season, when conference crews work their own games, and generally, but not always, the road team in a nonconference game brings its officials.
But what happens when the BCS Championship Game matches two teams from the same conference? Why should the BCS bother with a neutral officiating crew when a Southeastern Conference crew worked not only the LSU-Alabama game in the regular season, but the other 47 SEC games as well?
Rogers Redding is the perfect man to answer those questions. Not only is he the National Coordinator of Football Officials, he took that job after serving as the SEC coordinator. It’s a good thing, too. Instead of reading the rule book, Redding had to read between the lines of rules.
“The guidelines for bowl-game officiating, which includes the championship game, do not anticipate the possibility of both teams being from the same conference,” Redding said in an email reply. “Thus they are silent on the issue, and hence are open to interpretation.
“The guidelines consistently call for ‘neutral crews,’ which is defined as crews from a conference different from those of the participants in the game. I am interpreting that literally in this case, so the crew officiating the game will not be from the SEC.”
Redding, of course, chose not to identify which conference will supply the crew for the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. He said only which one will not supply it.
It’s too bad: If an SEC crew worked the game, LSU and Alabama wouldn’t have to spend any time at the outset adjusting to the crew or vice versa. The rule for neutral crews is a good one. In this case, it is not only unnecessary, it may impede the play of the game.