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College Football/ncaa football premature snap


In reference to the Auburn-Texas A&M game.....When the Auburn center prematurely snapped the ball and the A&M defense recovered, why was the play not blown dead and Auburn penalized for movement, false start, illegal procedure/motion or not enough players on the line and a 5 yard penalty assessed as almost the entire Auburn offense wasn't set and most of them were still moving around (including the quarterback and running backs)?


Thank you for your question, and it is a good one.  There are a number of fouls on Auburn that could have been called, but in general, you don't want to reward a team for its fouls.  To answer your questions one-by-one: 1. Illegal motion and/or illegal shifts are live-ball fouls.  Therefore, it would not have stopped the play.  2. A foul for too many players in the backfield (used to be not enough on the line of scrimmage) is also a live-ball foul.  3. False start could have been called. If all of the players were not set for one second prior to the snap, the team could have been penalized for a false start.  

All of that said, it is a quick play that surprised everyone (probably including the officials).  In general, however, officials do not reward a team for fouls.  Calling a false start here would have rewarded Auburn for its mistake, because it would have given the ball back to Auburn.  

Great question.  By rule, probably a false start.  By philosophy, a team should not be helped by a foul.  The center's mistake cost the team, and the officials should not be involved in helping Auburn fix its mistake.

Bill Robers

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William Robers


I can answer rules questions and officiating questions (including training, mechanics, and general questions).


College Football Official since 2005; assist in training newer officials.

Big Sky Conference Officials Association Sports Lawyers Association Rotary International

Law Degree from University of Minnesota Law School, 2001 MBA from Carlson School of Management at the U. of Minnesota, 2001 B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University, 1997

Awards and Honors
Post-Season official in 2012 and 2013.

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