TORONTO - The Canadian Football League moved a step closer to instituting the expansion of the use of instant replay.
On Friday, the league's Rules Committee recommended a few changes, most notably plays involving incomplete passes. Currently, when a quarterback goes back to pass, is hit and the ball comes out, and the play is ruled an incomplete pass, the defensive team can challenge the call.
The Rules Committee is suggesting the CFL's replay command center be allowed to overturn the call on the field, declare the play a fumble, and award possession to the defensive team if the ball had been recovered immediately. As of now, the command center can only review whether the play involved an incomplete pass or a fumble, but it cannot award possession.
Also, a defensive team that believes there was a completed pass and then a fumble, can challenge the on-field ruling. And the command center could award the defensive team possession of the ball if it decides it was caught, then fumbled, and then recovered immediately. Currently, the only ruling that can be made by the command center is if the pass was complete or incomplete.
"Some of the toughest calls for on-field officials are what the media sometimes calls �bang-bang' plays, when a decision has to be made on a potential change of possession in what can seem like the blink of an eye," said Tom Higgins, the CFL's director of officiating. "The rules committee is looking to give the use of instant replay more say in two of the most prominent examples: when the ball comes loose as a quarterback is hit in the pocket, and when officials have to decide if a pass was caught, not caught, or caught and then fumbled."
The CFL's Board of Governors will meet this spring to decide whether or not to approve the changes.
The league is also looking at a couple of other rules. One is eliminating blocking below the waist following a completed pass across the line of scrimmage. Another involves punts going out of bounds between the 20-yard lines. The receiving team would have the option to take the ball where it went out of bounds plus add a 10-yard penalty against the kicking team, or have the kicking team punt again 10 yards back. Also, the committee will look into if a player who is pushed out of bounds by an opponent can be allowed to return to the field and make a play.