Coaches will soon be flagging zebras

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Upon further review ...

Coaches Mike (Pinball) Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts and Greg Marshall of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will get to toss the nylon back at officials during a pre-season game in Halifax on June 11. But the flags won't fly for keeps until the '06 season, at the earliest.

As part of several initiatives aimed at improving officiating, the CFL will continue to study the implementation of replays - Clemons and Marshall will have a chance to ask for reviews in Halifax by throwing gold flags, like the NFL.

WANTS TO GET IT RIGHT

"One of the premises I believe exists throughout our officiating ranks is any official worth his salt wants to get the call right," CFL director of officiating George Black said yesterday.

"We understand the importance. We understand players are playing for livelihoods and fans are so dedicated to their team. We want to get the calls right."

Clemons and Marshall will each get two challenges of calls and a decision will be made by the referee based on a review using a hooded field-level monitor, as is the case in the NFL.

The plan is to make a minimum of five camera angles available, although it's possible more angles will be used if replays are put into place in 2006 - and the league uses TV feeds at televised games.

"Once implemented, instant replay will be another tool CFL officials can use to help them make the right call," said director of football operations Shawn Coates. "Instant replay is not a cure-all, nor is it a perfect tool. It will, however, become a friend to the official, a second set of eyes to assist them in doing their jobs."

The model being contemplated would see the referee given 90 seconds to review a play when challenged. Challenges will be broken down into three areas.

The first involves plays governed by on-field markings, such as sidelines and goal lines. In other words, determining if a player has stepped out of bounds or crossed the goal line.

PASSING PLAYS

The second is passing plays, in the context of determining completions and interceptions. The third has been labelled other detectable situations, such as if a player is down on a play or if a kicked ball has been touched.

"If a camera angle can provide us with a better angle, whereby we can see things we wouldn't have seen at the officials' angle, then it helps us to get the call right," Black said.

"It's a matter of getting the call right. I know my guys buy into that. I don't think any of them will defer to the camera or the eye in the sky to make the call for them. They're prepared to make the call, but they're also prepared to stand to be corrected if the camera shows they made an incorrect call."

So why wait until 2006?

"It's a question of priorities," Coates said, asked why five other initiatives will be put in place for this season without instant replay.

"We really needed to focus on the recruitment of new officials and the training and development of officials we have already. Our board of governors felt it was more important to address funding toward those areas first before we looked at instant replay."


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