Hot-button pushers

In a perfect world, Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia would like to implement the NFL...

In a perfect world, Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia would like to implement the NFL replay rules. (Edmonton Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

The hot-button issues in the CFL will be put on the table this week.

The annual league congress begins in Toronto today, as coaches and executives meet to discuss several topics over three days.

Included on the agenda are two very intriguing issues: TV instant replay and possible rule changes that could bring more excitement to punt returns.

With every regular-season game being televised this year -- a first for the CFL -- instant replay could become a reality.

However, there are logistics to hammer out at the congress before TV replay can receive final approval from the governors.

"If there is going to be replay in the CFL, there's only one timeout per half," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

"In the NFL, you can contest a call (through instant replay), but if you lose the challenge, you lose a timeout. But there are three timeouts per half in the NFL and we have one.

"So, what happens if you contest a call (in the CFL) and you're wrong? Are you out of timeouts? That doesn't sound appealing."

The timeout issue is on today's congress docket.

The NCAA avoids the timeout problem by not allowing coaches to contest a call. Instead, an official in the press box reviews plays and notifies on-field officials if a questionable call needs further TV review.

In a perfect world, Maciocia would like to implement the NFL replay rules.

"If we get three timeouts, I'd rather have it in my own hands," he said. "But, if we only have one timeout, I wouldn't mind having an official upstairs (like the NCAA)."

DANGEROUS RETURNERS

The congress docket for tomorrow includes discussion of the punting game.

Last year, like every year, teams punt the ball out of bounds to avoid dangerous returners like Edmonton's Tony Tompkins.

Special teams coaches also instructed players last year to ignore the five-yard no-yards penalty if the ball bounced into a returner's hands. Seemingly countless times, tacklers were waiting inside the five-yard zone for a returner to pick up the ball off the ground.

The defensive reality has fans and insiders calling for changes to make the game more exciting.

PINNING THE TEAM IN

But Maciocia disagrees with the notion that teams should be penalized for punting out of bounds.

"Whenever you're kicking from midfield you're trying to pin the opposing team as deep as possible, so you are going to try to kick the ball out of bounds inside the 20-yard line -- just like in the NFL," said the coach.

Instead, Maciocia suggests changing a different rule.

"If you want the excitement in the return game back, then make sure the returner always gets five yards so he can field the ball and do whatever he has got to," he continued.

To make that happen, every no-yards penalty should be 15 yards, according to Maciocia.

Currently, it's only 15 yards if the opposing team is inside the five-yard radius when the returner catches the ball before it touches the turf.

"That's a great point," added Eskimo special teams coach Malvin Hunter.

"I want to see if Tony (Tompkins) gets as many touches as possible, but I have to sit on the fence on this issue because I also have to face guys like Keith Stokes and Corey Holmes."

The debates on many issues begin in earnest today.

FINISH LINES: One issue not on the agenda over the next three days is tampering. Instead, coaches quietly discussed it yesterday, but Maciocia offered no comment after the meeting.

The Ottawa Renegades accused the Tiger-Cats of tampering last week after signing two former Renegades -- George Hudson and Josh Ranek -- within hours of free agency starting. According to league rules, opposing teams can't contact potential free agents until the market officially opens.


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