Instant Replay: Robots Invading College Football

Based on television numbers, it is hard to dispute that football is America’s most popular sport. While this may be true, football still has its share of problems. Granted, they are not as frequently aired in public as Major League Baseball’s issue with steroids. Nor are they as glaringly obvious as the NHL’s attendance problems. But the relatively quiet public outcry should not go unnoticed. Ok, maybe there’s no groundswell of turmoil ready to burst on the NFL, but I’m not talking about that sterile brand of football. Instead, I thrust the spotlight of blame on the NFL feeder system, also known as NCAA football.

Hear me roar from the mountaintop, “Instant Replay is a plague that must be eradicated before it’s too late.”

Hear me roar from the mountaintop, “Instant Replay is a plague that must be eradicated before it’s too late.”

There, you see- Instant Replay is just as much fun in writing as it is in football application. Which is to say, it has no place in this article, nor should it on the gridiron. What’s worse, is that I fear it may only be the beginning: the robots are just around the corner.

Many problems exist with the moronic system. Primarily, is that not all college stadiums are properly equipped to get the necessary camera angles for Instant Replay to be successful. As long as schools like Middle Tennessee State or Idaho (neither of which belong in Division 1-A in the first place) share the same distinction as Division 1-A members, why should they be subject to lesser quality technology? Are not their games as important as Oklahoma’s or USC’s? Hmmm.

For argument’s sake, let’s not pretend to be so naÃ?¯ve. We all know that BCS conference schools (and Notre Dame) are the only ones that matter to the god that rules the NCAA: television. Which conveniently brings me to another detrimental aspect of Instant Replay. Because it is now being implemented in all Division 1-A games, the time of said games inevitably would be lengthened. But, wait, wouldn’t that affect television programming? You bet it would, and that is why we are stuck with these horrible new clock rules that are designed to speed up play. All that they seem to accomplish is add a few Delay of Game penalties and rob the fans of dramatic finishes (see LSU-Auburn, Tennessee-Florida, or Miami-Florida State already this year). Thank you, TV.

Another college staple that Instant Replay crushes is the emotion of the players. After Derrick Williams makes a sensational, back of the end zone, grab against Ohio State this weekend (wishful thinking, I know), Penn State cannot waste any time celebrating the touchdown. Instead, they have to hurry up to kick the extra point, or risk the play going upstairs to be reviewed. Only after a successful PAT, can they mob Williams in congratulations. And who knows, by then, they could be rejoicing over the lack of review more than the actual football accomplishment.
Try to imagine some of the all-time great college finishes that would be tainted had Instant Replay been around. Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary to beat Miami. Cal running through the Stanford band en route to the end zone. Nebraska’s lucky “kick” in the end zone to score against Missouri. Put yourself in the stands during any of these zany finishes. Your mouth is agape over what you just witnessed, when you hear the dreaded words, “the play is under review.” Based on the performance of the referees in the Oklahoma-Oregon game this past weekend, there is absolutely no guarantee that the call will be made correctly anyway. Think Flutie would have won the Heisman Trophy if the call were reversed? Don’t bet on it.

I guess the bigger question to be asked it this: Why stop at Instant Replay? Why not have a CSI team on the sideline to analyze the DNA on the field after each and every play. That way, we can have the exact spot on the field where the ball should be spotted. How about robotic officials that use lasers to detect when excessive contact has been made between wide receiver and cornerback? Of course, the robots will have to be programmed to know when to give Notre Dame and Michigan favorable calls, but I am confident that technology can accommodate that.

I fear that Instant Replay is a harbinger of the increasingly thinning line separating the college game from the pros. If I wanted to watch cookie-cutter corporate robots playing with a pigskin, I would simply tune in on Sundays. Please, keep the emotion in college football, and get rid of the plague before it’s too late.

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