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Suitor: CFL BOG has an opportunity to make a difference

Glen Suitor
5/7/2014 12:28:59 AM
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Every football coach will tell you that in order to make a difference in the game, you have to take full advantage of your opportunities. Now, on the field that could mean scoring after your defense creates a turnover or moving the football offensively when you have the wind at your back.

On Thursday, the CFL Board of Governors will have their opportunity to make a difference when they vote on the proposal to make pass interference a reviewable call.

A "yes" vote means that for the first time since video review was implemented, the system will be used on a judgment call by the refs. Coaches will not get extra challenges but if the rule change is passed, they will be able to challenge a called pass interference or challenge a missed called PI.

Critics call it a drastic shift in philosophy which turns the on-field refs into robots, while proponents call it a small expansion of the current video review system that will help the on-field officials make the toughest and most controversial call in the game.

The rules committee, which is made up of football people, passed the rule change proposal over a month ago but while it was a strong majority, it wasn't a unanimous "yes" vote. Sources contacted on Tuesday were divided on whether or not the fact that it wasn't unanimous will influence the Governors. While they couldn't come up with actual numbers, one source felt that rule change proposals that did not get a unanimous vote from the rules committee were almost always voted down by the Governors. A separate source didn't think that the fact that it wasn't a unanimous vote would make any difference at all to the Board.

One thing both sources agreed on was that this is one of the most important rule change votes in recent memory and if passed, will be a rule change that will be watched closely by the National Football League.

The NFL rules committee decided to put a much more drastic proposal to a vote this year when they tabled the idea of giving coaches the chance to challenge all personal foul penalties. That is a drastic change in philosophy with regards to video replay and it was, not surprisingly, voted down. However, if the CFL Governors vote "yes" to this PI rule change, you can bet the NFL will be paying close attention.

In fact, a source close to the process said that there are many coaches in the NFL that are pushing for a chance to review pass interference, so if it is voted in by the CFL board and runs smoothly in year one, then it is safe to say it won't be long before the NFL tables the idea again.

There is also a sense of urgency with this decision in that, when a rule change proposal gets defeated by the Governors it typically can't be reintroduced for two years. Which means, if you are a fan that gets frustrated with the inconsistency of the PI call, you are going to get two more years of a whole lot of the same.

The CFL head office was contacted Tuesday and refused to comment, but football fans should not read into that. With the current CBA negotiations on going, the "no comment" response may becoming automatic.

There has been interesting debate on this topic, however, the question football fans have to ask is; what is the downside and the upside of a "yes" vote? Without debating all aspects of this rule change proposal again, it is still tough to find a real downside.

Even if this change is a one year experiment and the league finds out that it has created more questions than answers when it comes to pass interference, nothing is really lost. If it doesn't work, it was at least attempted, all teams in 2014 will have played by the same rules, and the idea is dropped in 2015.

However, if it works; if it does help refs get the game changing penalty right more often and if it does improve the game, then the CFL will be looked upon as innovators.

On May 13, a new crop of young football players will be drafted into the league and will be looking to take full advantage of their opportunity to play the game they love for a living. On the field, a defensive back can make a difference with an interception if he takes advantage of an opportunity when the quarterback throws and errant pass.

On Thursday, an opportunity will present itself to the Board of Governors. If they vote "yes," they have a chance to make a difference. If they vote "no," it will be two more frustrating years and an opportunity lost.




Golfer Taylor Pendrith is the highest ranked player on Canada's men's national team. The recent graduate of Kent State University is 18th on the world amateur rankings. More...

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