By Jeffrey Swindoll
There was a plethora of controversial calls in the Baylor-WVU game on Saturday. However, West Virginia received the spoils for one of most controversial calls of the game. The Mountaineers were originally penalized for an ineligible receiver downfield in the second half. The referees huddled and eventually announced to the crowd, “The previous play is under review.” The call was eventually overturned. In fact, it was the correct call, proven with indisputable video evidence.
The NCAA’s rules for video replay do not include this type of play (from the Baylor-WVU game) in the reviewable plays section, and, in this case, that is the stem of this controversy. According to NCAA rules, the officials should not have reviewed the play. Rightfully so, Baylor fans complained about that call because the play was incorrectly chosen for review. This incident sheds light on a bigger question about video review.
Video review in football should be unlimited. Everything needs to be done to make sure the right call is made.
At the end of the day, the correct call was made, whether the rules of officiating allowed them to do so or not. In that sense, there really isn’t anything to complain about. West Virginia executed a fair play and got a critical first down in their gritty win over the Bears. The Mountaineer fans were certainly happy about the exception being made for video review.
For officials, getting the calls right should be priority one. Making the correct call is complicated with the NCAA bureaucracy’s differing opinions on the matter. The question of how much video replay should be involved in the game is far from consensus.
Sports fans do not want games to be longer. On the other hand, hardly anyone wants to be on the bad side of a bad call (or no-call). If every play were reviewable, the games would be longer, without question, and that is not even with the guarantee that the correct calls will be made.
In the moment, waiting for the referees to make the decision is annoying. Would a fan rather wait the time for all the reviews and leave the game knowing that virtually everything was done to have the game correctly officiated? There’s no doubt about it. Interrupting the adrenaline flow of the game for fans is no fun, but the question is whether it’s worth it or not.
Making sure a game and result is officiated in the most correct way possible is the fundamental purpose of having an officiating crew. If the officials have the tools to make the correct calls, there should be no reason we don’t use them to their full extent.
Fans, players and coaches should be able to look back on a game, knowing that the correct calls were made and that everything about the result of the game, from an officiating standpoint, was spot on. Restrictions on video review can prohibit the correct call being made, and therefore could prohibit a fair result being produced from the game.