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Monday, October 27, 2008

What Happens When Replay Goes Wrong?

It seems that officiating recently has gone from bad to worse. From the absolute brutal umpiring in the World Series, to the bad calls that we've seen in both college and the NFL this year, it seems as if the easy answer to fix these errors (pointing the finger my way also) is instant replay. Mike and Mike both agree (gasp... WHAT!?!) that instant replay should be implemented more into baseball and also to create a way to get around the whole no timeout thing in the NFL. Even PFT, which seems to be the "go-to" NFL blog weighs in at the Sporting News with this:
The easy fix is to go back to the old rules. So what if it takes a little extra time to get the call right? Too much is riding on the outcomes of these games to rush the process.

But if saving time still takes precedence over being accurate, why not make replay automatically available on any play when the question is whether a team scored, whether a turnover happened, or whether a first down was achieved? The challenge system can be maintained for all other situations.

At a bare minimum, the league should allow the booth to initiate replays with less than five minutes to go in each half.

But what happens when Replay goes wrong? You'd be amazed, but we've seen it happen many times. For instance, when Al Michaels will say something about how "they won't overturn this", and there's "not enough inconclusive evidence", and you the viewer seem to agree with him, but sure enough the referee emerges from his little review hideout to overturn the call and you wonder what angle he was even looking at. This past weekend, there was another case where the replay booth got it wrong! Over at The Detroit Free Press, Big Ten commish admits an error was made during the Michigan / Michigan State game:
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the decision by a replay official to award Michigan’s Brandon Minor with a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, overruling the on-field referee’s call, was “not acceptable.”
Minor leaped to make a 19-yard catch from Steven Threet and landed out of bounds, causing the on-field referee to rule the play incomplete. The replay official overturned the call, saying Minor’s foot hit the pylon. According to NCAA rules, however, an airborne player that touches a pylon is considered out of bounds.
Will there be punishment?
“I haven’t decided yet, but we may,” he said. “I doubt if we do anything publicly, but there has to be an understanding that we expect on the field and in the booth 100% knowledge of the rules, applying the right rule to the right situation. You might make a mistake in terms of judgment, but I expect our officials to know the rules and apply the right rule to the right situation. We didn’t do that, and that’s not acceptable.”
Well... at least Delany is serious about fixing the problem. And thankfully this blown call did not affect the outcome of the game as Michigan State eventually won the game. But this is a reminder to all that think instant replay will fix the problem, sometimes even the replay guys get the call wrong.