As we stand upon the brink of the 137th year of college football, there are few things that could be changed that would make the game itself better. But, no single game-centric issue needs more fixin’ than the system for college football replays.
We love the college game and it is simply better than the NFL in most ways. However, the college football replays system should, without question, be conducted the same way they do it in professional football.
Two Scenarios That Capture the Shortfalls of College Football Replays
It’s first and goal at the 2-yard line when a powerful tailback goes off tackle and into a pile. The officials can’t tell if the ball crossed the goal line because of the mass of humanity mashing against each other. When the dust clears, the officials make a call…
Whether the refs ruled a touchdown or not is irrelevant here. Why? Because you can guarantee that play will be stopped and we’ll all lose patience watching the different angles to see if the guy got in.
The next scenario looks like this. The offense faces 2nd & 9 at their own 32 late in the first quarter when the QB completes a three-yard pass that may or may not truly have been complete. When the initial replay is shown, it’s unclear as to whether the nose of the ball hit the ground or if the receiver got his hands under the ball.
No matter. The “genius” eye in the sky stops play to look at the play from every angle except the receiver’s helmet cam. Four minutes go by when the ref pulls off the headphones and announces that the call on the field stands. The result? It’s now 3rd & 6 instead of 3rd & 9. Wow! That’s progress, right?
Upon Further Review…
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going back to the way it was for over a century. No replay. The refs make the call and the call is final. Now, get to the line of scrimmage and let’s play.
But, that will never happen and continuing this system makes us bleed from the eyeballs. So, here’s a solution.
The NFL system puts the decision on the coach. In both of the aforementioned scenarios, the coach of the defensive team probably never would’ve wasted his challenge on those plays.
If he challenges scenario A and wins, there’s still a good chance that the QB will score on a sneak from the 3-inch line on the next play anyway. He’d save his challenge for a different scenario.
If he challenges scenario B and wins, the offense is just as likely to convert on third down whether they need six or nine yards. Again, he’d save his challenge.
In the college system, there are already stoppages in play that destroy the flow of the game and the involuntary replay stoppage makes the games almost unbearable for the fans inside the stadium. If coaches were given one challenge, they would be likely to use them carefully and then the fans would not be subjected to the endless delays that disrupt the flow and, ultimately, make the games longer.
Instead, the Rules Committee chooses to completely ignore the flaws in the replay system. The inherent flaw with their approach to their decisions is that millionaire head coaches are the Rules Committee and the last thing they want is more accountability. So, they leave it up to the replay official to remove the burden. To boot, this change to the system would result in fewer replays and speed up the game, which will give the networks more dependable windows of time for their broadcasts.
Again, college football is the greatest sport on the planet and I hate to seem like I’m bashing this thing I schedule my year around. But if I were Czar, I’d make this change to make it that much better.
E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MarkCFried.
Photo courtesy of Brian Cantoni on Flickr.