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Thursday, May 5, 2011
More details on replay, please

By Eamonn Brennan

Last night, Diamond hit you up with the deets (that's right, I got all the hip lingo) on the NCAA's biggest proposed college hoops rules changes of 2011. The first and undoubtedly most important is the proposal to finally paint a charge circle under the rim. This replaces the old policy, which required referees to imagine said semicircle. That was a bad policy. This is a good change. Analysis finito.

In fact, what might be the most intriguing proposal came with disproportionately minimal explanation in the NCAA's news release. I'm talking about the NCAA's monitor replay proposal, which went public with just this one paragraph yesterday:
The committee is recommending that coaches can request a monitor review by officials at any time during a game. An example would be a team being credited for a two-point field goal, when the coach believes the shot was a three-point basket. If the replay shows that the coach was wrong, that team is charged a timeout. If the team has no more timeouts, the team is assessed a technical foul for taking too many timeouts.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. That's the classic NFL replay style, which makes replay challenges a game within the game. NFL fans love this stuff. It plays perfectly into the made-for-TV extravaganza that is a Sunday afternoon watching unrealistically gigantic men beat each other to variously sized pulps. And with the multitude of broadcast cameras covering every angle on the field, every call becomes a potential flashpoint. It's fun stuff.

Would that play well in college hoops? I'm not so sure.

More than anything, we need more details. What does "at any time during a game," mean, exactly? Any dead ball situation? Or does it literally mean a coach can stop live play and ask a referee to review the monitor on a previous play? What if the referee doesn't hear him? Does the coach get a red flag? Where does he throw it?

What sort of plays can be reviewed, anyway? If a coach is stopping live play, does that mean he can ask referees to review foul calls? Blocks and charges? Out of bounds plays? The example given is the classic two-point vs. three-point field goal, and that's an obvious play that's been reviewed in the NBA and college games countless times since replay was introduced. But that's just one example. What about the rest of what happens on the floor? How much of the game will be subject to replay?

None of which really answers our original question: Should coaches really have to use their timeouts as replay currency? Is this the most entertaining system available? Maybe. Is it the best? Maybe not. What's so wrong with the referees regulating the monitor themselves? Or at least having the power to do so within the final minute of a game -- whether a coach requests it or not?

To paraphrase the immortal words of The Dude, this is a complicated rule change. (A lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous.) It's certainly more complicated than the proposal seems to indicate. The good news is that it could be a tremendous change for college hoops. The bad news is it's too early to know just yet.