TORONTO -- The Canadian Football League announced that it will introduce position coaches to its officiating staff in the 2011 season. The new organizational structure will be implemented this weekend as CFL on-field officials, supervisors and evaluators meet in Toronto for their 'training camp' to prepare for the upcoming season.
"Much like a football team has a quarterback coach, our officials will now have a referee coach," said CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins. "The different officiating positions on the field each have very different responsibilities. Now with position coaches we will have a consistent voice coaching our officials in the four areas we have designated."
The four coaching positions include: a referee coach, umpire coach, line of scrimmage coach and a deep coach. The line of scrimmage coach is responsible for the head linesman and line judge. The deep coach is responsible for the back judge, field judge and side judge. Each coach trains and prepares officials' mechanics, positioning and judgment.
They will also instruct officials on rules and rule interpretations. The coaches' roles will continue through the entire CFL season, including regular interaction between games.
"While the ultimate responsibility still falls on the 'head coach', or in our case myself, we view this as a logical progression that will provide great benefits to our on-field officials who already do a very difficult job, very well," said Higgins.
The position coaches are:
Referee Coach - Jake Ireland
Umpire Coach - Bill Wright
Line of Scrimmage - Brent Buchko
Deep Coach - Al McColman
All four coaches have a wealth of on-field officiating experiencing in their respective positions.
The CFL will start the 2011 season with six officiating crews comprised of 42 on-field officials. Those officials, along with supervisors, evaluators and, for the first time, a few amateur officials, are in Toronto this weekend preparing for the upcoming season. The three-day training camp is an opportunity for the officials to meet as a group to review mechanics, positioning, video, rule changes and rule interpretations. They are also put through a series of tests to ensure they are prepared for the season.
The 2011 CFL season opens with RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend when the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes host the B.C. Lions on Thursday, June 30 at 7:00pm ET on TSN / RDS. Opening weekend continues on Canada Day with a double header as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium at 6:00pm ET (TSN) followed by the Calgary Stampeders hosting the Toronto Argonauts at 9:00pm ET. RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend wraps-up with the Edmonton Eskimos playing the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, July 3 at 7:00pm ET (TSN). To view the full 2011 CFL schedule click here.