On Thursday night in Toronto the CFL Rules Committee will vote on whether or not defensive pass interference (DPI) should be the first judgment penalty in football to be subject to video review. If the idea is passed in that meeting, it will then be presented to the league's Board of Governors, who ultimately has the final say.
Defensive pass interference was one of 13 discussion points when the Rules Committee met on Wednesday but, not surprisingly, DPI was the topic that dominated the meeting, and if the unofficial show of hands was any indication, this rule change proposal will in fact be passed and presented to the Board. It was not unanimous, but the large majority is in favour of adding defensive pass interference to the plays that will be challengeable in the 2014 season.
Again the majority of football people on the Rules Committee want this to happen.
To give some context, Wednesday's meeting was not the first time this rule proposal was presented to the group; this is a discussion that started in July of last year. That didn't however, limit what was an interesting debate on what, as the head of officials Glen Johnson said, would be a rule change that, "is more than innovative. In the world of officiating, for all sports, it's revolutionary.”
The proposal on the table, as written in Wednesday's agenda is, "to allow coaches to challenge both called and potential defensive pass interference fouls. A team would be able to use any and all of its coaches' challenges (and their potential third earned challenge on a called DPI foul or a potential non-called DPI foul up to the three minute warning of the fourth quarter. This challenge would be carried out using the current replay rules and protocols just as they would for any other challengeable aspect of a play.
In the last three minutes of the game, and in overtime, DPI would not be automatically reviewed by the command centre as all the current challengeable calls are now. It was a major part of the discussion on Wednesday, but in the last three minutes the proposal currently reads, "if a team has both timeouts and unused coaches challenges remaining at the three minute warning of the fourth quarter, they may now challenge a called DPI foul or a potential non-called DPI foul once in this time period. If they are successful in their challenge they will retain their timeout, and if unsuccessful, they will lose their timeout."
The three minute warning aspect of the rule change was debated in the meeting on Wednesday and still may be amended; however, it doesn't look like it will be an issue that stops the proposal from moving to the next level.
Also, if you're wondering about offensive pass interference, it is not part of this proposal because it is not a point of foul penalty. If offensive pass interference is committed, it is a ten-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage. If defensive pass interference occurs, the ball is placed where the foul happened, conceivably as much as a 30- to 50-yard penalty, and or, put the ball on the one-yard line if the foul occurs in the end zone.
Every team in the league, the officials, and the CFLPA are represented in the Rules Committee, which is a group that includes some of the top football minds in our game's history; and the majority of them think it is time to expand the use of video review. Again, it was an unofficial show of hands but, unless something changes on Thursday night, the rule proposal to make defensive pass interference the first reviewable judgment penalty in the history of football will be passed and put in the hands of the Board of Governors.