Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Week One Ramblings

*Unlike the NFL, it's extremely difficult to tell much about a college team in the first week of the season. There are just so many more variables to consider in assessing college teams from year to year, with the most important obviously being personnel turnover. Also, in cases of coaching changes, how quickly the players have bought into a new system can be hard to judge, let alone whether they've been able to pick up things like a new playbook and terminology.

*Please disregard everything Homerism previously said about Louisville. I realize I just told you not to put too much stock in a team's opening week, but the Cardinals' wretched performance on Sunday in a 27-2 home loss to Kentucky simply can't be ignored. Louisville's offense looked particularly inept in quarterback Hunter Cantwell's debut as a full-time starter, turning the ball over a total of five times. The Wildcats' were able to capitalize on Cantwell's three interceptions, turning one into a short-field touchdown. If there was anything for coach Steve Kragthorpe to build on going forward, it would be the improvement showed by his defense under new coordinator Ron English. Two of Kentucky's touchdowns came off of fumble returns, and the Louisville defense actually provided the team's only points on the day. Yet, unless the Cardinal offense can find a way to move the ball with even marginal consistency, matching last year's 6-6 record looks like this team's ceiling.
*The NCAA absolutely has to find a way to generate some consistency regarding the instant replay and celebration rules. In Bowling Green's 27-17 upset of Pitt on Saturday, the officials kept a Pitt drive alive late in the game after penalizing the Falcons for a d-lineman's seemingly innocuous gesture following a sack. Bowling Green held on for the win, but head coach Gregg Brandon would have had a legitimate beef if the penalty had swung the game in the Panthers' favor. The emphasis on toning down so called "excessive" celebration seems like a generational thing. The rules might be popular among crotchety baby boomers (e.g., Lou Holtz), but it's hard to see what the big deal is. Guys get pumped up in the heat of the moment when they make a play. It's going to happen. So long as they're not holding the game up or taunting the opposing team, just let it go.
Obviously, the instant replay issue is one that's near and dear to any Oklahoma fan's heart. Following the NFL's lead, the NCAA Rules Committee guidance on the use of replay stipulates that officials should only overturn a call in the presence of "incontrovertible" video evidence. As such, if replay can't provide evidence that the initial ruling is incorrect, the play should stand as called. In practice, however, it seems that replay officials have taken to using video as a way to "re-officiate" a play, rather than looking for the evidence needed to overturn the ruling on the field. In Friday night's SMU-Rice game in Houston, for example, replay officials nullified a Mustang touchdown that came on a 50-50 end zone catch. While the call on the field certainly could have gone either way, video replay didn't appear to provide any reason to overturn it. 
The distinction between the two different ways to use replay is subtle, but it's important. Given the lack of transparency surrounding college football officiating in general, the incontrovertible evidence standard helps ensure that replay won't be used to conjure up some friendly breaks for the home team. If the officials refuse to use replay as it's intended, the college game would be better off without it.