Video review still has bugs

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

Upon review, the Canadian Football League's plans to implement video replay is clearly up for review.

While the game between the Argos and Tiger-Cats this past Saturday in Halifax provided an experiment for the Canadian Football League's plan to expand to a 10th market at some point during this decade, it also showcased the potential for video reviews, maybe as early as next season.

Video review is part of the National Football League, but the CFL is still experimenting to see about its feasibility, provided every game can be televised, thereby giving the officials the technology to help them in making their decisions.

Education will be just as important because the initial foray into video review clearly demonstrated that there is some confusion over what can and can't be reviewed.

CFL director of officiating George Black already had decided that if neither team initiated a challenge, his crew would do it for purposes of testing the system. During the first quarter of the game, which ended in a 16-16, the officials created a challenge by reviewing an interception by Argos cornerback Jordan Younger, who picked off a sideline pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. He clearly stayed in bounds, but the officials used the opportunity to use the system and the play stood.

As the game evolved and showed all the sloppy signs of a pre-season tilt, problems evolved with the officiating and the video-replay system.

In the fourth quarter, Hamilton quarterback Ben Sankey threw a contentious 51-yard touchdown pass. Argos head coach Pinball Clemons tossed a hanky on the field to protest the play, believing Sankey crossed the line of scrimmage, which is an infraction. The officials deemed there was no hanky-panky on the pass by Sankey and refused the protest of Clemons, who according to the rules of video review could challenge the call.

Enter Black. He sent word to TSN, which was broadcasting the game, to expose the Atlantic Canada experiment and the video-replay experiment, that the officials had erred in not allowing the play to be reviewed. Had Clemons's protest been allowed, he would have been charged a timeout, which is the penalty for challenging a play that stands, because Black said the replays showed Sankey had released the ball before crossing the line of scrimmage.

Both teams each committed an illegal substitution in the fourth quarter and the officials reviewed the calls, but under the rules it is a penalty that cannot be challenged.

"We had a couple of human mistakes," Black said after the game. "It's the first time we've done it and we're going to learn from that experience and put all that into the whole set of recommendations. It was a good experience for us.

"The play in the first half, where the interception went for the touchdown and the player's foot touched down three or four inches off the sideline in-bounds, was a perfect opportunity for us to review it. If he had landed out of bounds, it would have either been ruled incomplete or we would have taken the touchdown back. Those are ideal situations for us, but we laboured a little to find some situations until late in the ball game and then I think we had a little bit of confusion."

MAY DO TESTS

Black said the officials may do some tests on their own during a game during the season without involving the teams. That happened last year in the first step towards trying to implement video review, which had been discussed as a possibility for this season but won't be used until next season at the earliest.

"It's going to be a learning experience for the coaches, too, as to what they can challenge and what they can't, but it reminds us that there is an education program that needs to be built into this for players, for coaches, for broadcasters and for our own officials," Black said. "And we'll do that."


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