Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Basketball Nation [Print without images]

Monday, June 18, 2012
At the Watercooler: Pon de replay

By Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf

(Editor's note: Myron Medcalf and Eamonn Brennan return to the watercooler to discuss the NCAA's new rules changes and guidelines.)

Eamonn Brennan: Greetings, Myron! We've been charged with another Monday-morning Watercooler chat, so that's what we're going to do. A few things to get to today, but first: How was your weekend?

Myron Medcalf: Weekend was great. Had a great Father's Day. And I watched some dude on a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. With live commentary. … We're doomed, by the way, if this becomes a trend … How was your weekend, man?

EB: Mine was likewise great. Lots of Euro 2012 and golf and soccer and time spent throwing bottles at Chris Brown's entourage, which is really all I can ask from a weekend.

MM: For the record, I left the club before the brawl started.

EB: A wise move.

Jim Boeheim
Giving coaches ilke Jim Boeheim the option of instant-replay challenges could be a hit with fans.
Anyway, seeing as this is mid-June, one of the quieter times in the college hoops offseason, you wouldn't think there'd be much to debate or discuss in this space. But you'd be wrong. I wanted to get to some of the rules changes and new guidelines the NCAA announced last week. I've written about a few of them. How did you receive them?

MM: Well, I loved your take on the instant-replay consideration. I'm with you. The rules committee wants to allow more flexibility on video replay in the final minute. But it's really time to overhaul the whole system. Coaches and officials need the ability to use instant replay when prudent. Humans versus Robots … wrong argument. If we're missing calls that are affecting games, especially in crucial stages, we need to fix that. If we need technology to make that happen, fine. And you hinted at this, but why can't we copy the NFL and move toward a challenge system? Coaches could challenge a minimal amount of calls at any point in the game. If they're wrong, they lose a timeout. Wouldn't fans appreciate that?

EB: Well, I'm sure coaches would scream about losing a timeout, but I'm all for it -- whatever it takes to reduce the number of late-game timeouts and make the game more interesting. But this is an argument for another time. As it stands right now, I think if we acknowledge that replay needs to be expanded in the final minute of games, and we accept that first-half calls and possessions can (nearly) be just as important as those in crunch time, then we need to start talking about how we can utilize the technology we have to get every call right throughout the game.

I have no interest in slowing the game down or taking a ton of time for a review, especially in the early going, but perhaps the challenge system could alleviate that. Or perhaps a video-monitor team could be used to audit independently each current monitor-review call as it happens in real time, so we don't have to stop the game to let the referees go check the 27-inch LCD TV. Or maybe we start using it to clean up block-charge calls. OK, probably not. But it is all worth discussing, isn't it?

MM: It's all worth discussing. Your independent review panel idea is a great one. Here's my fear: I don't want to move toward a system that eliminates the need for on-court officiating. I don't want to see instant replay on every foul call or every backcourt violation. I like the idea of an extra official (or two) having the power to say, "Yes, we must review that," based on what they're watching on the monitors. But how do we implement this extra officiating and maintain the flow of the game? That's a challenge.

EB: Not just a challenge, the singular challenge, one I admit I don't have a great solution for. I just think we have to find a way to bring the process of the game itself up to par with how we all experience it, which is through the prism of Twitter and hi-def slow-motion replay. Until then, there will be a disconnect between what fans see and what the officials see, and the gap will only widen as the technology improves.

The good news? Much, much more often than not, college hoops officials do a really good job. Maybe not so much on block-charge, but on just about everything else. Speaking of which, the NCAA also approved new block-charge guidelines last week in an attempt to help clear up the defining bad call of the 2012 season. I think the guidelines are a good first step; based on my Twitter followers (who are essentially my Greek chorus on rules changes at this point), there seems to be some doubt about whether the new guidelines will actually make a difference. I remain optimistic. What do you think, Myron?

MM: On the rule changes, I wonder, too. I mean, I love the block-charge clarification, but will we see universal consistency with the call? I doubt it. Bottom line is we're counting on an official to make a split-second decision involving two players and a restricted area around the rim. It's a difficult task. My problem with the block-charge last season was that it was called different ways … in the same game! We didn't have any consistency nationally. So I hope this helps. But I'm not convinced.

EB: Nor am I, I guess, but I remain eternally hopeful. There is much to improve about college hoops, but let's be real: We're trying to improve from an already pretty awesome baseline.

Join Myron and I next time, when we discuss the plethora of mini-Carrier Classics, the NBA draft and whether Drake has suddenly earned some measure of our respect. See you then, Myron.

MM: Sounds good. Until then, Eamonn.