Let's be clear. I love instant replay. Review 'em all that's what I say. Seriously, I think it is a good idea to have the ability to spend five minutes reviewing a call which was decided in seven tenths of a second. Plus, officials make mistakes just like any other human being so having some kind of review process is nice. Now having praised instant replay let me also say I do not think the college football version works particularly well. Having absorbed two weeks of college football action as well as the use of instant replay last season let me offer these questions about the system.
Is it predisposed to confirm the call on the field and is there some detriment in that stance?
On the first part the answer is yes and it probably should be that way. The term used is "indisputable video evidence." In other words the replay review begins with a single premise: the referee's call is correct. The job of the replay official is to then look for something in the replay which proves the official on the field was wrong. I have no problem with this in theory simply because I am hoping that the officials on the field are good enough to get the calls right most of the time. Replay is a backup for calls that are missed because an umpire's view was obstucted or the action simply unfolded too quickly for the line judge to adequately ascertain what happened. So, the call on the field should be given more weight and the video evidence must then provide a clear reversal.
The question I now have is whether or not this stance causes some calls to be confirmed that should be reversed. Since I am acquainted with how the world works I would say that is more probable than not. In my opinion the booth seems hesistant to reverse a call to the point I thought after this weekend the replay system was merely there just to humor everyone. That being said, I think one misconception fans, myself included, have is that the replay official can re-judge a call based on the video evidence. Reversing a touchdown because the player's foot is clearly out of bounds at the three yard line is easy because the call was clearly wrong. Attempting to ascertain whether or not Marcus Stone was across the line of scrimmage when he passed the ball against Akron on Saturday might require the booth official to re-judge the play which may not be part of the system's purpose. When I watched the play I thought he was across the line of scrimmage but if the replay official adopted by perspective he would essentially be substituting his judgment for the on field official's judgment. As fans we want the replay to do that because we feel that on field officials are complete morons. And in defense of the fan perspective, the Florida Union Times last October stated that ACC officials had 50% of their reviewed calls reversed which is an alarming statistic. So on one hand the credibility of the field official suffers if the booth substitutes judgement. On the other hand statistics have shown that the ACC officials are terrible and perhaps should have their judgement substituted by a replay official.
There is no easy answer here. The simplest mentality is to say, "Get the call right by the rules." And since there are enough limitations to prevent massive review of every other play I would say any call sent to the booth for review perhaps should be reviewed with that mentality in mind. Then again who says the guys in the booth is any better than the guy on the field.
Is the system properly employed in terms of logistics?
In my opinion, no. I was listening to 620 this morning and David Glenn said that even though we have a nice photo showing the Akron player short of the goal line he was not sure the three camera angles used for replay would have overturned the call. Here is the deal. College football makes serious money for everyone involved. That was the whole point of expanding so the ACC could get some of that sweet, sweet conference title game money that the networks were so willing to throw around. That being said, why doesn't the conference actually spend some money and put enough cameras to make sure replay officials can see as many angles possible and not just three? Why, instead of paying lip service to the idea of quality officiating, doesn't the ACC actually spend some money to make sure all 12 ACC stadiums have state-of-the-art cameras devoted entirely to providing footage for replay. Granted I am excessively ignorant about how much such an endeavor would cost but something tells me there has to be some money there between the schools and the conference to get this done. How many NC State fans would be glad to give back some of the Carter-Finley renovations in exchange for an end zone camera?(Not that they could have gotten a review of it more on that in a minute.) The point is I think the technology and money is available to equip these fields with enough camera, especially on the goal line and line of scrimmage to catch some of the crucial plays on tape. Having only three possible views seems a little limited to me and at the very least you would think goal line cameras would be mandatory.
Do the officials reviews everything they should?
No. This is where Wolfpack fans have a honest complaint. The ACC officials declined to review the Arkon touchdown without any explanation. Now supposedly a cursory review is done for every play but I would think that all touchdowns which are scored in such a muddled fashion would get more than a cursory view and I am not sure why the rules do not call for a complete review of ANY game winning touchdown. Yes, there are cases where it is not necessary but a running back scrambling one yard while being tackled and barely making it to the goal line probably ought to be reviewed just to make sure he stayed on his feet. In fact the Rose Bowl gave us an example of this when Vince Young's knee was clearly down before he optioned off to his tailback. USC did not challenge and the officials did not review it. Why not? Why not review every play that results in a touchdown just to be sure? Like I said, sometimes it is clear what happened but if there is any doubt at all then it should be reviewed. If David Glenn's assessment is correct it may not have helped NC State but at least had they made an effort the fans would have seen the replays and felt like the ACC turned a blind eye to a questionable call. What is the point of even having replay if there is no review of the single more important play in the game. It is not like the game would have been delayed since the clock had run out.
Well, if you are so smart then what is the best solution?
Honestly, I do not know. Some of the stuff seems easy like more cameras, defined rules for reviewing key plays, and general common sense in the review process. I think they should get the call right no matter what, this seems to be the only fair way to look at it. If the officials on the field make a poor judgment when why not reverse that call instead of hiding behind the "indisputable evidence" mantra which every announcer parrots endlessly during each review. Then again it would also help if the officials on the field did a better job calling the game correctly. The thought that half the time ACC officials could be wrong is frightening to say the least. If the on-field calling were better it would limit the involvement of instant replay to those occurrences where the referee just plain misses an obvious foot out of bounds or trapped catch. Otherwise just get rid of it altogether. I would rather anquish over seeing a replay and knowing the referee missed it than anguish over seeing the replay, knowing the officials botched the call only to have nothing done about it by instant replay.