College Football Replays

A little over a month ago, Bob Molinaro had this to say in his column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Time will tell: Even people who love the sport have to admit that something needs to be done about the length of college football games.

“The replays are excruciating. After just one week, I’ve had enough of college booth officials searching for ‘indisputable evidence’ after halting games for a ‘further review’ that almost always confirms the on-field call. Are the games really better for all this?”

The answer to that final question here is that the games – in the plural – are certainly not better for any of that sort of stuff but one individual game might be better if a critical call was muffed by the on-field officials and then made right by the “replay guys”. The difficulty in the calculation here lies in Professor Molinaro’s correct observation that the replay review almost always confirms the call on the field. Therefore, fans pay frequently but receive anything of value only once in a great while. It is frustrating; there is no getting around that.

Perhaps the solution to this problem in college football – – and a couple of other sports where replay is now part of the action/inaction – – is found in this snarky remark by Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“The NBA D-League is experimenting with a 75-second time limit on instant replay reviews. There’s something similar in college football, where reviews are now limited to 2½ days.”

I am less frustrated by the number of reviews than I am by the length of time taken by the folks doing the reviewing. I think 75 seconds is plenty of time to resolve 99% of the issues that call for review. It will be interesting to see how that D-League experiment works out.

By the way, having gone to several minor-league baseball games this summer, having a 20-second “pitch-clock” does not ruin the game of baseball. It is amazing how pitchers at that level are actually able to get themselves in a rhythm to deliver a pitch in that amount of time. In fact, the vast majority of pitches are made well within that time limit.

There is another problem with college football replays that goes beyond the annoyance of interrupting the flow of games and making the games seem eternal. As some of the major conferences have moved to a system where replays are monitored in a central location and then communicated to the officials on the field, these conferences have set themselves up for criticism and charges of “self-interest”. When a call goes in favor of a team that needs to win in order to stay in contention for a CFP slot and that call is made in a “dark room” several hundred miles from the game venue by a bunch of people who represent the conference that would benefit from that team getting into the CFP … You can easily see how the conspiracy theorists can spin that one into orbit.

The use of a centralized command center to do the reviews ought to speed up the review process since officials need not spend time “under the hood”. However, there are paranoid fans out there spring-loaded to proclaim that any important call that goes against their team is part of a master plan somewhere that requires their team to take a kick in the goolies.

During the NBA Exhibition Season, I read a report somewhere that some folks were “live-Tweeting” one or several of the NBA exhibition games. This behavior is mystifying to me on just about every level:

    1. It is an exhibition game, for Heaven’s sake. By definition, such a game is meaningless and cannot have meaning bestowed upon it via Twitter or any other social media platform.

    2. Since the game is meaningless and will continue to be meaningless, why would anyone waste the energy to “Tweet” about it? Unless, of course, the real reason to “Tweet” about it has nothing to do with the game but has everything to do with some narcissistic need to tell the world, “Hey! Look at me!”

    3. Whether the game is a meaningless one – or a championship game – why would anyone bother to read someone else’s Tweets about the game? If I care about a game, I will watch it and draw my own conclusions/derive my own enjoyment from it. If I do not care enough to watch, then why would I care what anyone else had to say about it?

I am a strong supporter of free expression. Having said that, I would not object to a limitation on “Freedom of Tweeting” if in fact Tweeting Exhibition Games is a real phenomenon that takes root in our society. Just as you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, I think one should not be allowed to pollute the Internet with Exhibition Game Tweets. The penalty for a violation of that standard should be six months with your smartphone housed in a Faraday Cage – – where there are no signals going into the cage to the phone or out of the cage from the phone. That ought to give the perpetrator time to reflect on how man existed as a species before some twit invented Twitter.

Finally, here is an item from Brad Rock’s column “Rock On” in the Deseret News from last week:

“Washington State coach Mike Leach says he doesn’t really see the point of team captains.

“On Monday he told the media, ‘All the guy really does is the coin toss.’

“Leach continued, ‘And then I decided one of the most screwed up things about this country is in order to do anything, to cross the street, we have a committee. So, I figured … we really only need one guy. And he’s gotta be smart enough to either call heads or tails. That’s it.’

“Why is this man not the President?”

    Memo to Brad Rock: Maybe he is not the President because he is smart enough to see through the nonsense of things and anyone that smart would not subject himself/herself to the muck and mire of a political campaign. Just a thought as we come to the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential campaign…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

5 thoughts on “College Football Replays”

  1. The reason for replay is still not changed, because the calls that are reversed are frequently game changers. Getting it right is never a bad idea, but the time spent on getting the right angle on a replay (another significant technical issue) to make the decision is the fundamental problem. Unless it is a TV game (yes, non-TV games still exist somewhere) it is doubtful all possible angles are covered, and as far as I know there is no standardized camera layout.

    1. I think most replays are not game changers, but seem important at that moment. The fact that lining up offside or jumping the snap or pass interference cannot be reviewed, but ball placement can, is absurd. Granted, it was an NFL game, but the no-call against Richard Sherman while defending Julio Jones should have been reviewable and would have been overturned. That was a game changer.

    2. rugger9:

      There are indeed some college games that are not televised or may be covered with aminimum number of cameras. That is not the case for the NFL.

      I don’t know if there is a “standard” camera layout for covering games. It seems to me that there are a few “standard angles” in every game but I don’t knowwhat the variants might be.

  2. I can understand a replay official, seeing one view that seems to indicate an error was made, wants to see as many angles as possible before overturning the call. But, a lot of replays are clear from the first view that the call was correct. Why can’t those calls be confirmed within a few seconds? But, there are too many reviews in college football. I like the NFL rule that requires the head coach to request a review before the next snap, as opposed to the officials in a booth deciding to review a play.

    1. Doug:

      I totally agree on resolving at least half the replay reviews in about 15 seconds after seeing the first view of the play in question.

      I do not understand why the NCAA thinks that its rule on replays is superior to the NFL one – – but clearly someone along mahogany row in NCAA HQs does so.

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