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Saturday
Jul232005

Instant replay, meet Big Twelve

Out of boredom, I watched this program called (I think) Big Twelve Showcase this afternoon.  The show is all about the Big Twelve, kind of a regional thing, and they were broadcasting from the Big Twelve Media Day.

One of the segments focused on the instant replay issue, interviewing coaches and Big Twelve media types about what it is and what their views were on it.

Almost universally the coaches liked the idea, citing the Big Ten's experience with it and also their recommendations to the Big Twelve during meetings.  Mind you the coaches weren't falling over their chairs giddy about it, but they appeared realistic and willing to give it a try, also noting that it wasn't a cure-all.

But then the Big Twelve media types were given their air time, and they gave it a less-than-enthusiastic reaction.  I realized right then this was a classic barometer moment.  On one side we had the coaches, playing nice about it, but seeing both sides of the coin, and then on the other we had the Big Twelve media members, crowing about their issues with the system.  If this is any indication, at least one conference will have several like-minded writers and talking heads itching for a instant replay fight.  Maybe it was just a hot day and after a lot of interviews, they had to find something to make controversy of because media days are so consistently boring and provide little copy and video.  But it's also something to note.

For what it's worth, the Big Ten media were pretty quiet about the change last year, so as nearly every conference adapts some kind of instant replay, we'll watch and see how each reacts and whether they fall into the Big Twelve camp (or maybe the Big Twelve media guys change their mind and fall in love with it?) or the Big Ten camp.

An interesting point was raised by one media member, as he noted that some coaches by nature will like the instant replay system because it makes controversial plays less about the coaches and more about the people reviewing them.  In that regard, it has always been a bit odd that the NFL allows coaches to ask for a replay, and not people trained to spot plays that in fact merit review.

But other media members also said by having TV and video review, another aspect of the human element of the game is stripped away, and we agree with that sentiment.  College football's beauty is much about the subtle things that tickle our insides and reveal imperfections and emotions.  Tradition brings that out, but so does judgment (the controversy over the BCS and polls!) and human error (calls made by officials).

Anyway, interesting stuff.  It's too bad television is such a bad format for serious discussion, because I would have loved to have heard the various coaches and writers talk further on the issue, instead of some probably disproportionately selected sound bytes.

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