In addition to the four-hour session he conducted with Ticat brass yesterday, CFL head of officiating Glen Johnson also spent more than 60 minutes with members of the Hamilton media going over the rule changes for next season. He showed us about a dozen film clips around what now constitutes offensive and defensive pass interference – or doesn’t, as the case may be – and answered a bunch of questions. Having CHML radio analyst John Salavantis in the room certainly helped: Coach Sal has coached at the pro level and certainly understands the nuances of some of the changes.
My story covered the road show Johnson is currently undertaking to explain the rules to all CFL teams. (And by the way, Johnson is an ideal guy to sell these changes to the teams, the media and the fans. He’s an experienced official but more importantly, he’s an articulate and engaging speaker who comes off as open and honest.) I’m planning on writing a bit more on the rule changes today but here are five additional things I learned yesterday.
1. According to Johnson, TSN will go to commercial break during video review more often this season. It won’t increase the number of TV timeouts, they’ll just happen more judiciously, filling what is an otherwise dead period while the command centre reviews a play.
2. When there is a five-yard version of the no-yards penalty, the referee won’t make an announcement, he’ll just signal the penalty and apply the yardage to the end of the return.
3. During video review, the referee will now communicate with the command centre via a wireless headset instead of using a headset at the timer’s table as they have up until now.
4. On-field officials will now be able to communicate with one another via wireless headsets, which should cut down on the number of on-field huddles they have to conduct during the game.
5. When the offensive wants to run the hurry-up offence, they will no longer be allowed to substitute. Defensive teams will be able to substitute but at their own risk.
6. Many of the above changes, and several of the rule changes, have been implemented to improve the overall flow of the game. While the running time of a CFL game has remained steady at around 2 hours 55 minutes the last few seasons – including in 2014 when penalties were wayyyyy up – there was a sense that the games had become too choppy.