Nothing can turn a grown man into a baby like a blown call. College football extracts a wide range of emotion from its fans, but the introduction of instant replay into the Big Ten this year is sure to have a paralyzing effect on the season.
Conversation and debate are the lifeblood of the sports fan. Instant replay creates silence. There are no questionable plays to debate, no bad calls to argue and fans lose much of their malice toward the opposition. The question “What if?” vanishes like Gophers fans after halftime.
What if instant replay was used at the California vs. Stanford “Big Game” in 1982?
After reviewing the insane series of pitches and laterals, “The Play” may have never reached the record books. Instant replay reviews would have bogged down the game, delaying one of the most ecstatic victory celebrations in recent college football history.
Fans love circus catches and highlight reel plays. Instant replay is a complete buzz- kill to any miraculous play. When a wide receiver makes a fully extended, one-handed catch in the back corner of the end zone, and arguably gets a toe down, the glory of the play goes to waste if it is reviewed and overturned.
Wisconsin opened its season with a five-minute delay, thanks to instant replay. Badgers running back Anthony Davis broke free for a long run ending at the Central Florida 28-yard line.
The play was reviewed when the replay official said he thought Davis stepped out at the Central Florida 41-yard line. Further review resulted in the ball being placed at the 29-yard line. Five minutes were spent to move the ball back one Knights yard!
Five minutes is a long time to wait between snaps on Saturdays. Even Badgers fans, some of the best in the nation, can be silenced and calmed by such a delay. If officials took five minutes to review a play at a Gophers game, they might just come back on to the field to see 60,000 empty seats.
Instant replay places an unfair amount of pressure on Big Ten officials. As if they don’t already have enough pressure on them, there is someone else right over their shoulder with multiple views of each play, just waiting for a missed call.
How would you feel if someone shadowed you during lecture, and every time you made a mistake, they announced it to the entire lecture hall?
Big Ten football is rooted in tradition – classic rivalries, landmark stadiums and some of the best football fans in the nation. Instant replay taints the tradition of a conference whose officials are respected coast to coast.
Officials aren’t perfect, and neither is instant replay. No matter how much technology is integrated into officiating, calls will still be missed.
Let the officials do their job. Let the kids play the game. Let the fans be entertained. Let the play stand.
Mike Durkin welcomes comments at [email protected]