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NFL replacement officials are way out of their league

GLIAC's McCann knew what he was talking about with speed of the game

September 12, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

Two things repeatedly ran through my head on Sunday while I sat next to may father in Section 126, Row 5 of Lambeau Field.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy detests running the football and GLIAC Supervisor of Football Officials Mike McCann really knows what the heck he's talking about.

Three days prior to my annual pilgrimage to Titletown, I had been sitting much higher up in the press box of the Superior Dome in the booth next to McCann, who was taking in Northern Michigan University's nonconference game against Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Article Photos

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh argues a call with referee David White during the first half against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. (AP photo)

With McCann visiting Marquette and the NFL's lockout of its officials continuing into the regular season, I figured it was a great chance to chat with McCann about how the GLIAC was being affected. He was very gracious to do so.

McCann gave me a wealth of information for Monday's story, but one statement by McCann just kept popping into my head Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers defense shutdown the Packers.

The quote came from a question I asked late in the interview: How big of a jump to the NFL is it for NCAA Division II referees?

"The difference in the size of the athletes, and more-so, the speed of the athletes, doesn't quite compare to what we see play after play in the GLIAC," McCann said Thursday. "It's not that we don't have NFL caliber athletes in the GLIAC. We do, but not every play and not an entire team. There is a huge speed difference.

"Is it a jump? You bet it is a jump."

What McCann said was nothing new to me - I knew the answer, but as a reporter that day, I needed him to say it - having witnessed plenty of GLIAC games everywhere between the sidelines of the Superior Dome to the press box, and at least nine Packers games at Lambeau Field as low as the fifth row and as high as the indoor skybox seats.

Each level gives you a different view and I've always preferred the bird's perspective because it allows you to see the plays develop.

On Sunday, seated in the south end zone along the 10 yard line behind the Packers' bench, I appreciated the sideline perspective for the sake of seeing close to what the replacement referees were seeing.

Apparently David White's crew and I didn't see the same things, and I'm not referring to Aaron Rodgers using his foot to knock off the helmet of a 49ers defensive lineman, resulting in a 49ers unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, or the block in the back by the Packers that led to Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return which was called, and then uncalled for some mysterious reason.

What boggled the minds of those of us in Section 126, Row 5 were the false starts that went left uncalled and the referees' inability to catch the neutral zone infractions that many times caused the false start penalties, when they were actually called.

Did they referees not see the false starts and neutral zone infractions, or did they just decided to no longer call the penalties as if it was the third period of a Stanley Cup playoff game?

The confusion surrounding an unsportsmanlike conduct call when a helmet is removed or blocking in the back on punts - White's crew called the 49ers for a block in the back when the the Niners were the kicking team once - showed a lack of knowledge when it came to the rules.

The same thing can be said for calling pass interference instead of illegal contact on an infraction that occurs away from the play, or calling pass interference on a hold during the route, not while the ball is in the air.

But when pre-snap penalties go uncalled, that shows the game is moving too fast for these officials, who obviously need to spend more time at the Superior Dome before getting another shot at Lambeau Field.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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