Fumbled call: Should DII football add video replay?

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As you all know by now, Michigan Tech defeated Northern Michigan, 34-31 in a GLIAC football game that went down to the wire Saturday night at the Superior Dome. But, the game could have and probably should have taken a different direction.

In the first quarter on the Huskies second drive of the game, MTU quarterback Tyler Scarlett connected with tight end Ian Wienke on a pass in the flat. Wienke caught the ball and headed up the sideline, when he was hit by Wildcats defensive back Javaris Hendricks and linebacker Nick Krause. The hit by Krause jarred the ball loose and the Wildcats recovered the fumble. However, the sideline official ruled Wienke was down by contact. The Huskies kept the ball and scored the first touchdown of the game five plays later.

So, the question is this: Should Division II Football look at adding video replay? I believe that the time is right for this to happen.

Think about this. It’s 2014. Technology has never been better and yet it continues to amaze us almost on a daily basis. Let’s take Northern Michigan University for example. They broadcast every football game at the Superior Dome, using high definition (HD) cameras. They have cameras at all angles of the field. It’s mostly a student-run production, but it’s a production none the less. Michigan Tech University also shoots and produces every football game at Sherman Field.

This blog is completely hypothetical, but stay with me here.

  • Let’s say that the GLIAC decided to implement video replay at all conference games. The league would have to supply one more official per game, who would watch the game from the replay both/production booth.
  • Like college football at the FBS level (Division I), each coach would have just one challenge at their discretion. If they win the challenge, they would get one more. If they lose the challenge, they lose a timeout.
  • Coaches can challenge the spot of the football, whether or not a receiver had possession of the ball when making a catch, if a runner was down by contact.
  • All plays that result in a change of possession, i.e. would be confirmed/reviewed by the replay booth.
  • All scoring plays would be automatically reviewed before the next play occurs.
  • Any replays in the last two minutes of the football game would be handled, decided, and executed by the replay official.
  • All replay calls, if they are overturned, must have clear and precise evidence to overturn any call.

Who knows if the fumble that wasn’t called would have made a difference in the Miner’s Cup. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about getting the calls on the field right? As a former high school sports official, I know what kind of pressure that the guys who wear the stripes are under when they officiate games at any level. They’re not always going to get the call right. But, when there’s the opportunity to help get the call right, shouldn’t all efforts to get the call right be made?