The week to week game planning process is often one of the most time consuming aspects of coaching for staffs around the country. For Bruce Arians and his staff with the Arizona Cardinals, they've piled even more work onto their proverbial game planning plate by deciding to also prep a scouting report on the officials they've been assigned each game.
Why you may ask? Well the NFL employs 122 officials, but astoundingly, only ONE of them is full-time. The other 121 hold "day" jobs. Take two of the more high profile names in NFL officiating for example; Ed Hochuli is a lawyer by trade and Gene Steratore owns a janitorial supply company by day, ESPN points out.
Bruce Arians is among a growing contingent of coaches who thinks that the NFL (which made over 7 billion dollars a few short seasons ago) needs to step up and make officials full-time so that they put in the same kind of time that coaching staffs do.
"We scout the official that we have each Sunday as hard as we do the opposing team, because they’re all different and all call things differently, and they have different interpretations," Arians told ESPN in a recent article.
"Until they’re all professionals under the same rulebook, it’s going to be that way."
The fact that the calls that officials make, or don't make, impact games (and therefore contracts, and incentives, etc.) so much and they're just part-time is a huge problem in Arians' eyes.
Arians believes that if officials and made, and paid, like full-time employees they would be able to learn more of the details behind the schemes of offenses and defenses around the league and that would in turn help them better understand where, and what, to look at as a play develops. They would be able to dedicate an incredible amount of time to watching film and learning so that they could see the game in a different light.
"That’s their job; they don’t have another job. They work practice, they work games, they can work Arena, they can work at their craft," Arians adds.
A growing number of NFL coaches feel the same way, and it's not a stretch to think that 90% or more of coaches at the college and high school levels are thinking the same things Arians is. When officials from game to game can't seem to reach a consensus on what a catch is on Sunday's, it's clear there is a problem that needs to be addressed, and making NFL (and hopefully, eventually college) officials full-time is a great solution.
Surely a few hundred thousand dollars or so can be cut out of the multi-billion dollar pie for that, can't it? That would be a solid starting point, at the very least.