The Canadian Football League is making a call on video review.
In a news release Wednesday, the CFL announced coaches will now only be able to challenge one play per game.
The change is effective immediately, and comes after league commissioner Randy Ambrosie ordered an evaluation of the process after his latest visits to CFL stadiums this past weekend.
“Scoring is up, penalties are down, and games are shorter. The last thing we want to have in place is an artificial impediment to our fans’ enjoyment of it all,” Ambrosie said in the news release.
Ambrosie goes on to say video review has done just that, adding too many challenges and reviews are interrupting the game.
“It was put in place to fix egregious and indisputable mistakes that could affect the outcome of a game. It’s not being used that way now,” he said.
“Coaches, understandably since they are under pressure to win, have been using it to try to gain an advantage. Fans have been very clear with me that they want a change. We are delivering that change.”
The CFL noted the proposal to restrict coaches’ challenges was approved in a series of calls with the league’s competition committee, team presidents and lead governors Tuesday night.
Prior to the change, each team was allowed two challenges per game, and a third challenge was earned if a coach was successful for the first two.
Coaches will now only get one challenge for the entire game. They will still need to have a timeout to initiate a challenge, and if it’s not successful – they still lose a timeout.
Jones agrees with league decision
Roughriders head coach Chris Jones said the league made the right decision by limiting the coaches’ challenges. He said the changes will make for a more exciting game for fans.
“I think it’s going to make a much better game for the fans to watch and so personally, yeah, I think it’s going to help our flow and the length of the games will be a little bit shorter, so I think it’s a good decision for the league,” he said after practice on Wednesday afternoon.
Jones admitted that even he had contributed to some delays in games, pointing to the Calgary game two weeks ago where he and Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson threw back-to-back flags on the same play.
“It was a long break in between and that’s not exciting for the fans and this is a fan driven league. I think that anything we can do to keep the excitement level at a premium is the right thing to do.”
The rule change comes in the middle of the season, but Jones said he doesn’t mind if it helps deliver a better product.
Where it used to be coaches could use flags to extend drives by hunting for illegal contact or pass interference, now they’ll have to hang on to it in case a game-changing moment requires a second look.
“Now… you’ve got to wait and hold that to some type of scoring-type play because you don’t get a second one,” he said.
— With files from Arielle Zerr