CFL on recent replay calls: get used to it

According to Glen Johnson, the CFL’s VP of football and the man responsible for officiating, the two recent replay challenges that have coaches, players and fans up in arms weren’t overturned because they weren’t “egregious” enough.

Johnson spoke to TSN’s Farhan Lalji over the weekend and Lalji relayed the contents of that conversation during halftime of Saturday night’s game between the B.C. Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos.

Here’s what Lalji told CFL on TSN host Rod Smith.

“There’s a lot of disappointment and head shaking at those two calls, especially last night. The league’s position is that the rules haven’t changed but the standard has. They want replay to be just about egregious calls that have been missed, they don’t want grey area. So if it takes two-and-a-half to three minutes to make sure the call gets exactly right, that means that call was too close to overturn.

“I spoke to Glen Johnson and he just said ‘those were not egregious calls. In the minute, minute-and-a-half we want to take to make these decisions in an effort to speed up replay, not slow down the pace of the game, those calls did not meet the standard for obvious, egregious mistakes and we’re just not going to overturn those types of calls. That’s going to be something people around the league are going to have to get used to.'”

It would appear, however, that the media, players, coaches and fans have one standard for “egregious,” the CFL another.

The first call came in the season opener with the Saskatchewan Roughriders trailing the Montreal Alouettes 7-0 late in the second quarter, when replays appeared to show Riders receiver Bakari Grant fumbling before he crossed the goal line on a touchdown catch. The play was ruled good on the field but all scoring plays are reviewed and video evidence seemed to indicate the ball came out before the ball crossed the line.

The CFL on TSN panel went to town on the call at halftime.

“That is clear,” said former quarterback Matt Dunigan. “That is exactly why we have slow motion and video review on all scoring plays, to get it right. Still got it wrong. That’s disgusting. That’s a game changer. Montreal should be livid at this point.”

The second came in Friday night’s Grey Cup rematch when Calgary’s Kamar Jorden appeared to fumble the ball in the fourth quarter, down by seven. Ottawa challenged the play, but the call on the field stood to the dismay of the sellout crowd of 24,565, and the Stampeders went on to score four plays later when Jerome Messam ran in a three-yard TD. A convert tied things 28-28 with two minutes remaining. The game finished in a tie.

Redblacks coach Rick Campbell, ever the diplomat, nonetheless expressed his frustration with the situation.

“The challenge thing’s hard and I know everyone’s trying to figure it out and get better at it from all fronts, the coaches, the replay guys and all that, but it’s really unpredictable and it’s hard to know how things are going to be ruled on a replay,” said Campbell.

Needless to say, fans have not been kind on Twitter. A very small sampling:

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