POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Instant Replay: Yes or No?

 Brian Curtis and Eric Sorenson slug it out over the most pressing football questions

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    Brian Curtis, CSTV Senior Editor Eric Sorenson, CSTV.com Analyst
    NO. When it comes to instant replay, you either love it, or hate it. I, however, happen to be in the minority that is against instant replay, but understands the arguments for it. Much has been said and written this week after the incredible USC-Notre Dame game, where replay was not in use at the discretion of USC's Pete Carroll. Would it have changed the outcome? Doubtful. Even losing coach Charlie Weis said in his press conference Monday that if instant replay had been in use during the game, there still weren't many calls that the game officials blew. And that's why we don't need it. If we can play arguably one of the greatest games in history without replay, then why would we ever need it?

    Nine of the 11 I-A conferences are using some form of instant replay this fall, after the successful experiment in the Big Ten in 2004. Research shows that last season, play was stopped in 28 of 57 games where replay was in use. Of the 43 plays reviewed, 21 calls were overturned. Sounds like a high percentage, right? Think of the thousands of plays run in those games in which the officials had the call right and replay was not needed or not allowed to be used. And even of the 43 questionable calls, only a handful could have helped shaped the final score, but most likely, did not.

    So while some would look at these stats and insist that they support the use of replay, I disagree. I see the fact that there is much ado about nothing. With the time, effort and money spent on instant replay, there doesn't seem to be much of an impact. So why have it in the first place? Are we really ready to allow cameras to be the judge? Surely, at some point in the future, an important game may come down to an official's call-or lack of one-and instant replay will be pushed to the forefront once again. I say the team on the bad side of the call should have played better to not have to rely on an official's call to win a game.

    How far do we go with new technology in football? Should we put a GPS device in the football to spot where the ball lands when the ball carrier's knees hit the ground? Or how about we use replay to determine holding on the offensive line? I mean, if instant replay is used to get the calls right, than let's get them all right.

    I have had my share of shouts at officials, and sat incredulous in the stands or press box or sidelines when a ref clearly missed a call. For a vast majority of officials in virtually every game on every play, they get the call right. We shouldn't have a system intended to try and get every call perfect because that takes the human element out of the game. Trust in the officials, they know what they are doing. Most times on "controversial" plays, officials will huddle up to make sure they get the call right. Relax. If they don't, they don't. Remember, your team should have played better so as not to lose a game on one call.

    YES. "After further review instant replay freakin' rules! "

    Yeah, I hear those leather helmet troglodytes out there. "It disrupts the flow of a game. It takes too much time. It means that Big Brother is watching over the officials."

    In the immortal words of rock iconoclast Frank Zappa, "Pheeeuuwwww!" Make no mistake, this is the best thing to happen to college football since they busted up the ABC-TV monopoly of televising games.

    A perfect example of how a lack of access to instant replay may adversely affect a game was Saturday's epic USC-Notre Dame game. Trojan coach Pete Carroll decided against having instant replay used. Lucky him. Otherwise, Matt Leinart's fumble near the Irish goal line in the waning seconds of the game may have actually been re-spotted at the two- or three-yard line instead of inside the one.

    That would've had a pronounced difference on the play-calling with seven seconds left. However, replay might've also helped the Trojans by adjusting the clock to 10-12 seconds left instead of seven. So instant replay would've made everything on the level for those crucial moments.

    At one end of the argument - replay makes sure things are played out in a fair and conclusive manner. Then there's the other not-so obvious end of the argument: with millions of dollars hanging in the balance at the end of the season, it would be a real bummer if a bad call or two or three cost a team a shot at the national championship or a BCS berth. Yep, just too much money on the line not to get calls right.

    Here's the best part: college football has figured out the logical way to do it. No coaches throwing red rags on the field. No referees going over to a shrouded TV monitor to try to figure it out for themselves. No making the players act out the previous play to decide it like in backyard football. And for the most part, no five-minute stoppages in play like those saps in the NFL.

    You have to love the way the Big Ten got it right last year, incorporating a speedy, successful way of simply having a replay official with a monitor deciding what plays need review and quickly making those decisions. That model set the tone for the rest of the country.

    For 2005, nine of the 11 major conferences have now gone to replay. Only the WAC and the Sun Belt don't use it, mostly because not all of their games are televised. Of those nine, three of them simply use a guy in a booth with a TiVo. That's it. No muss. No fuss. Love the simplicity.

    The SEC, Big East and ACC go with a much more sophisticated system that costs an alarming $30,000. Hey, to each their own. As long as it gets the job done. And replay does.

    Think of it this way, would you rather have instant replay getting a call right? Or do you want to go back to the days of Joe Paterno and Bobby Ross racing across the field at the end of the game - white socks ablaze - chasing down the refs and reading them the riot act for what they thought was a bad call?

    Know what I say? Thank God for technology.

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