Always a way to a favorable call

By Andrew Singer

Screaming at an official after a bad call can make a player or coach feel better at the time, but it won’t in the long run.

Most coaches and players will attest to how important it is to establish a solid rapport with the officials early on in the game.

NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish might not know his second cousin’s name, but he’ll surely know the name of the man throwing the flags on game day.

“I’ve always had real good relationship with the refs,” Harnish said. “It’s always a first name basis, they always know my name and I know quite a few of theirs.”

Even when the play doesn’t involve him, NIU wide receiver Nathan Palmer makes sure to chat with the official.

“You have to be a cool guy,” Palmer said. “Even when you’re not getting fouled, like after a running play or during a TV timeout, you have to go talk to him and establish a good relationship; knowing that they might then be a little partial to you.”

When a foul inevitably does occur and no flag is thrown, Palmer knows exactly how to react.

“I try to always go up to them in a joking manner,” Palmer said. “That way they don’t think I’m pressing them. If I know the ref’s name then I’ll refer to him by name and tell him if I’m getting held down field, and most of the time that works for me.”

While Palmer usually maintains his temperament on the field, there are times that he simply throws his hands up.

“Being cool works most of the time,” Palmer said. “Sometimes though, you have to use the old throw your hand up in the air like your throwing a flag to get a call; and there are times that one works too.”

Like Palmer, NIU defensive end Jake Coffman usually gets along with the officials; though there are some that don’t take to Coffman’s personality.

“The only officials that I’ve had a problem with are the ones that don’t like to joke around,” Coffman said. “When I’m on the field, I like to have fun with the officials, but there are some out there that just won’t have any of that.”

While Coffman has had disagreements with some officials, he’s rarely gotten into any real arguments with them. Most often, the coaches are the ones getting visibly upset with a referee after a call goes against their team.

“Originally if I disagree with a call I’ll go over to the sideline official and just ask him what the white hat was thinking on that play,” said NIU head coach Jerry Kill. “But sometimes there are calls that you disagree with enough to get really upset with.”

Even in the midst of a heated confrontation, though, Kill makes sure to keep it in perspective.

“No matter what you say to an official, he’s not going to change his call,” Kill said. “So, at the end of the day, you have to make sure you don’t lose your head out there. You have to maintain yourself and your team, so you don’t end up hurting yourself.”

Almost thirty years into his coaching career, Kill has never argued enough with an official to hurt his team.

“In my entire coaching career I’ve never had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against me,” Kill said. “Not one.”