Putting replay on a loop

Published 10:42 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I’ve been a regular at William and Mary football games for a couple decades now, so being on hand for Saturday’s historic game at Old Dominion was equal parts great fun and having a wisdom tooth removed. Therefore, it was an exciting, memorable sporting event.

I know what Virginia Tech fans went through when they escaped James Madison … Oh, not so much, I guess. It ended slightly better for the 1,000 Tribe fans at Foreman Field, who walked away cheering their team’s win.

Plus, from past seasons, JMU’s band, even in the canyon of Lane Stadium, is a lot louder than ODU’s. That had to make it worse for the Hokies, too.

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I can’t go back too far, but I’m old enough to find it funny when I-AA games are interrupted for TV timeouts and take a minimum of three hours to play.

Most W&M games are on TV now. ODU’s already in the same category and will graduate to every game on TV very quickly.

Down the road — and it won’t be long compared to how such decisions normally evolve — Old Dominion will be building a big upper deck on one side of Foreman Field and prepping for a home schedule that includes W&M, as well as Navy, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburgh.

But that’s all putting the cart way before the horse. Monarch football still will experience growing pains on the field. Attendance and popularity, though, will move onward and, as soon as it’s possible, upward.

Even currently, thinking about I-AA football and TV, it makes sense. A game in Williamsburg draws the same as a two-time World Champion Florida Marlin game.

Attendance at a Monarchs game equals the average Baltimore Orioles game, with the Orioles average including the times each summer when Red Sox, Yankee and Philly invaders make up two-thirds of the fans at Camden Yards.

High school football still moves at the pace the game was designed to, and that’s with guys who play offense, defense and on kickoff/punt teams. If anyone deserved a nice three-minute break a couple of times a quarter, it’s two- and three-way players.

Soon enough, with or without ODU, I-AA football will be big-time enough to get replay reviews, along with the joys of “Is that conclusive?” and “When did the whistle blow?”

When possible, no game should be decided by a blatant error. At the same time, good breaks and bad breaks balance out over the course of a season, and usually even a single game.

Every Friday night, there are a few parents or assistant coaches with video cameras in the stands or the press box. The digital screens on those cameras are getting better all the time. Today replays dominate the World Series, tomorrow they will be at ODU vs. JMU, then at Lakeland vs. King’s Fork.