Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 9, 2006, Herald Journal

Should we just get rid of officials?

By Aaron Schultz

Okay, I know I have a history of not always being pleased with how referees, officials, and umpires handle their business.

And, with the headline reading “Should we just get rid of officials?” one might think that I am ready to go on another rant concerning them.

This time, at least, it is not one of those columns.

My real beef is with college football and the use of instant replay.

All four of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games were outstanding, although I only got to watch bits and pieces of each of them.

That is, until the national championship game, which was at the Rose Bowl this year, Wednesday night.

I was all ready to sit down on the couch, order a pizza, and watch the game from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

But, as my brother (Cullen) and myself sat and tried to watch it, it took just too long, and I started getting frustrated.

Frustrated with the announcers, Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts, frustrated with the long commercial breaks, frustrated with the general length it was taking to play the game.

I mean, seriously, people complain that major league baseball takes too long, well baseball takes a back seat to the length of some of these bowl games.

Take the Orange Bowl, featuring Penn State and Florida State, Tuesday night.

This was a game I was really looking forward to watching, once I got back from the high school basketball game I was at.

I was able to watch a little of it, but either the game was way too long, or I am getting old, because I fell asleep before all of the excitement happened in the end.

It probably was a combination of both, but that is not the point. These games need to be sped up a little.

Now, back to the national championship game, which was a very exciting game, especially in the second half.

But do they really have to use instant replay every time there is even a small questionable call?

These dang instant replays caused me to miss a chunk of the game, because every time the officials would say they were going to review a play, I changed the channel.

I know it has taken a while, but this brings me to my point – should we just get rid of officials on the field?

Really, why not? Just have officials in the instant replay booth call all the penalties, decide if it really was an interception or fumble, and spot the football.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be a few officials on the field to throw a flag when the little man talking in his ear piece tells him to, and to place the football after the play.

In reality, this is all they should have to do since anytime there is any question on a play they double check with the replay booth.

Sure, replay does make sure the right call on the field is made – at least most of the time.

But these replays extend the length of the game, along with all of the commercials, to a ridiculous length.

Since I know there is no shot, and I mean no shot, that college football and TV will ever shorten the commercials, let’s just get rid of replay.

If they are not going to take my suggestion of just making all the calls from the replay booth, then replay needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

People in favor of replay will argue that it takes the possibility of a bad call affecting the game, and makes sure that the team that deserves to win, wins.

Those arguments are all fine and dandy, but I don’t care.

Besides, that is part of what makes sports so great, the fact that the team that deserves to win doesn’t always win.

One way that happens is when a bad call affects the outcome.

Hear me all, this is part of what makes sports so great, the fact that anything can happen.

Mistakes are made by players, by coaches, and yes, by officials.

It is part of the game, a part I really wish would come back to college football.

One final thing, if they are going to use replays on any close play, taking it out of the hands of the officials to make a decision, what will I do?

Seriously, this will take away at least two or three column ideas a year for me, and let’s be honest, I don’t have much going on upstairs.

I need what I know, and I know how to rip on officials.