New rule hits home in Steeler game

It’s of little consolation to Steelers fans, but their team played a role in NFL broadcast and officiating history last week.

With a replay challenge of a non-call that led to a pass interference penalty being called, the Seahawks-Steelers game was the first in which the NFL’s rule to allow such challenges was utilized and produced a change in a regular season game.

Many folks — coaches, fans and media — complained about the process and outcome last week, but the camera angles seemed to support a penalty being called. There was contact, and that’s the reason the rule was implemented in the first place.

Unfortunately, what’s most frustrating and scary about the NFL replay process is its inconsistency. And that’s what’s worrisome going forward.

While Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was frustrated and upset by the ruling, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had to be pleasantly surprised. Maybe shocked.

And it’s a fair bet that some similar-looking play, or replay, this week or some week in the future will not be officiated the same way.

Along with consistency, time management related to replay provides another reason for concern. Specifically, few replays seem to get completed in a timely manner, no matter how obvious they seem. Angle after angle, speculation on top of what-ifs, it all leads to longer broadcasts and more interruptions in the flow of the game.

Someday the league and its broadcast partners will figure out a better way. For now, we’re still in the wake of some history that was made last week in Pittsburgh.

Here’s hoping every week of the NFL season is not a history making endeavor.

Cool coverage

Five games remain in another season of high school football games on WHVL-TV, and the outlet does a good job with the coverage.

The weekly broadcasts provide a nice focus on local games and the channel’s leadership mixes the schools featured well. This past Friday it was Central Dauphin East at Altoona.

Here’s the remaining schedule: Friday – Clearfield at Bellefonte; Oct. 4 – Harrisburg at State College; Oct. 11 – Forest Hills at Bishop Guilfoyle; Oct. 18 – State College at Altoona; Oct. 25 – Bellefonte at BEA.

Games kick off at 7 p.m. with Joe Putnam and Sam Stroh calling the action.

Tuner tidbits

n As a Friday night Penn State football game nears for the second season in a row (with the Nittany Lions playing at Maryland five days from now), listen and watch this week for media members in the region to claim that college football is killing high school football. It’s not. And until some media outlet shares attendance numbers from a typical Friday night, or several high school Friday nights, and compares them to an evening when Penn State plays on that night, it’s all just hype, lazy takes and opinion.

n Maybe it’s an inconvenience for some that Penn State plays on a Friday night, but the Nittany Lions get those spots because they draw viewers when they appear on TV, and because Big Ten Conference member programs each collect more than $50 million each year through their media contracts with partners like Fox and Fox Sports 1, which has this week’s game.

n All NFL partners for game broadcasts are missing an opportunity to at least acknowledging betting lines these days. It does not need to be ever-present during broadcasts, but that information should at least be provided on some small scale. That’s certainly better than silly late-game references to wagering by folks like SNF play-by-play man Al Michaels.

n Kudos to Chris Simms whose role with NBC Sports on Football Night in America gives him a more visible platform than that of his father, Phil Simms, who works for CBS on NFL Today.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.


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