Monday, November 09, 2009

It's not surprising that there was a controversial call in Saturday's Alabama win over LSU. The Southeastern Conference has struggled all season with poor officiating, prompting many observers to call for the NCAA to institute national officiating. (LSU has real reason to complain; the Tigers have apparently been victimized with bad calls in both of their losses. The latest came Saturday).

Bad calls are a part of the game, of course, but of particular interest in the LSU-Alabama game was how the officials handled the controversial (non) interception. Right after the play the official went to the microphone and said: "The ruling on the field is ... (pause) ... the play is under review." In other words, the officials didn't immediately make a call. After the review we found out that the officials had ruled the pass incomplete. But tellingly, it seemed like the officials were waiting (or hoping) that replay would bail them out.

Media technology, primarily through instant replay and booth review, has substantially changed the way games are played and decided. But it's a mistake to simply turn over the review process to the machines and let them make the calls. There are far too many reviews at both the college and pro level these days, which is problematic. Too many coaches, players and now even officials seem willing to put the outcome of the game in the hands of the robotic eye.


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