AUBURN — The SEC’s eight-man officiating crew will not work the game between No. 5 Auburn and Arkansas on Saturday, according to Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema.
The SEC is experimenting with one crew, led by referee Matt Loeffler, featuring eight officials with the “center judge,” identified with a “C” on their back, serving as the additional official opposite the referee in the offensive backfield.
The SEC office does not announce destinations of officiating crew ahead of time, but Loeffler’s crew will not be the group working at Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend.
“Everything that I’ve been told, we’re not going to have the eight-man crew for our game there,” Bielema said. “Safe to be said that we were told that at some point, every team will have that crew in effect.”
Officials coordinators across the country have attempted to standardize the pace of play and come up with “a crisp jog” as the guideline for how quickly officials will move on the field.
Bielema, an advocate for the controversial 10-second rule, which failed this off-season, elected not to elaborate on the “crisp jog” guideline.
“As far as pace of play, that’s obviously up to the NCAA rules and we’re excited about the opportunity to play an up-tempo team,” he said. “I think it’s a really neat thing to have college football to have teams with different philosophies. As far as how the officials, on game day players play, coaches coach and officials officiate. I’m sure everybody will do a great job at all three.”
Ready for rain: With a less than favorable weather forecast for Saturday afternoon, both teams are preparing for potentially wet conditions.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the forecast called for an over 70 percent chance of rain with thunderstorms possible for Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff.
“Whatever it is we just want to be at our best on Saturday and get an opportunity to showcase what we’ve grown,” Bielema said.
Both Bielema and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said their teams have practiced for rainy conditions.
“The big thing when it’s raining is to keep your hands as dry as you can,” Malzahn said.
Lutzenkirchen, Langer to be honored: Malzahn said there will be a moment of silence before Saturday’s game for former Tigers tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and former defensive back David Langner, both of whom passed away during the off-season.
Lutzenkirchen, 23, died in a single-vehicle accident in LaGrange, Ga., on June 29.
“I’ll be wearing his bracelet,” Malzahn said. “I’m sure that there will be some players that will honor him in their own way.”
Auburn painted Lutzenkirchen’s old No. 43 in the end zone of its practice field early in fall camp.
Langner, the Auburn hero of “Punt, Bama, Punt” fame from the 1972 Iron Bowl, passed away on April 26 after a bout with cancer. He was 62.