Instant Replay for State Title Games

Instant Replay for State Title Games

by Steve Gamel

Considering how big high school football is in Texas, adding instant replay to help get a controversial call right was bound to happen eventually. But the process will have its limitations – at least for now.

The University Interscholastic League announced April 19 that instant replay will be used during state title weekend for all classifications in 2018, citing in a press release that it will use NCAA rules to review calls on the grandest stage. However, the addition of instant replay will only impact title games. It will not be used during the regular season and playoffs.

All reviews will be made by a college official in a replay booth, per the UIL.

“With all UIL state championship football games at a single location, we have the technology and ability to utilize these powerful tools to make the state championships the best possible experience for coaches, players, officials and fans,” UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said in the release. “Instant replay will help ensure that the calls during the biggest games of the year are as correct as possible.”

Whether or not to add instant replay has been a hot topic for a long time. Purists argue the game is fine without it, but others point out that football is a complicated sport with many moving
parts and action happening all over the field. As a result, officials can get a call wrong or miss something and derail a team’s season.

There were examples of pivotal calls that could have been overturned as recent as the 2017 playoffs. Locally, Denton County has football teams that make title runs practically every year. Guyer won state titles in 2012 and 2013 and lost in the 2010 final. Argyle High School has played in a state title game three times between 2013 and 2015, winning once.

In 2014, Argyle lost to Navasota 42-35 in double overtime in the state title game. In that game, Argyle gave up a game-tying drive with just more than a minute to go in regulation, though it appeared the receiver fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line and the ball went into the end zone and rolled out of bounds. Instead of Argyle getting the ball back with a chance to ice the game, the receiver was ruled down by officials on the field, setting Navasota up to score and force overtime.

“It’s a day late and a dollar short for the Argyle Eagles,” Argyle coach Todd Rodgers told the Denton Record-Chronicle shortly after the UIL’s announcement. “But it’s definitely a good thing. It creates a better, fair environment for players. We weren’t the only ones impacted, and it’s a tough situation. The video board [at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium] kind of exposes some of those missed or incorrect calls and makes it bigger than what it normally is.”

But there are limitations. Not only will instant replay not be an option during the regular season or for any playoff games leading up to championship weekend, but the UIL said coaches will not have the power to challenge a play. Targeting will also not be called as a result of a review.

“Because we play football by NCAA rules, which allow for instant replay, we have this opportunity. We are extremely excited to add instant replay to our state championship games,” UIL Director of Athletics Dr. Susan Elza said in the release. “We’ve studied this topic thoroughly, and have had many conversations with officials and coaches. The consensus we’ve heard is that our game is ready for this and it will be a valuable addition.”

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