It isn't perfect but it isn't as bad as most thought it would be.
It is well documented now, but Hamilton's first home game of the season wasn't really a home game because they played at McMaster and aren't yet able to get to their new home at Tim Horton's Field. In fact, since Kent Austin signed on as the team's head coach, his TiCats have not had true home field advantage in 10 possible home games. Guelph did a good job last year, but it is not the same true home field advantage that you get when you are in your own locker room and playing in front of a home crowd that knows how to make it tough on the opposition. Most opposing players will tell you that fans in Hamilton can make it tough on the opposition.
Having said that, McMaster for a few games is not going to be the end of the world and did provide the fans an up close a personal look at the physicality in football. The Redblacks and the Ticats were pounding each other and fans at McMaster are so close to the field that most of them probably went home and strapped on some ice packs like the players do. They were that close. It is almost like getting that backstage pass and performance by a rock band. There is the concert for 40,000 people but if you're lucky and won the contest on the radio, you are one of fifty people to get a private performance backstage and a chance to meet the rock stars. Last Saturday's game at McMaster felt a little like the backstage performance. Everyone is looking forward to the opening night of the new Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton and tops on that list is the team's head coach Kent Austin. But until then, a select few fans can get a backstage pass, although they may want to wear a helmet.
The New PI Rule
While there are a few that are still dragging their feet when it comes to the rule change where by coaches can now challenge defensive pass interference, it sounds like the change has working the way it should. To date there have been 10 challenges of defensive pass interference (they have all been on non-calls), and only two have been overturned. On those two "non calls" overturned, both were in the end zone and in the final analysis the correct call was made.
Some have tried to blame longer games, more penalties, and longer reviews on the new PI rule, but none of those issues have anything to do with the new rule. Generally speaking, even coaches that were initially skeptical have supported it, including the coach on the TSN panel Paul Lapolice, who early in the season was opposed to the rule change but on a recent conference call said, "speaking as a coach, I would like the opportunity to challenge a game changing play like PI in the end zone if I was on the sideline."
To understand why more penalties have been called, look no further than the roughing the passer call. It is up by a 50 per cent from this time last year but has been trending down for the last two weeks. That should sort itself out when players learn the new standard and the new target area on quarterbacks.
As far as lengthy reviews are concerned; according to the league, there have been 25 coaches challenges this year and they are averaging two minutes and 15 seconds. The target time is about 1:30 and the league is working hard to get to that target but that could take some time. Also of note, the 10 PI challenges have averaged about 1:55, so on average are taking less time than the other reviews.
So, let's not blame the new PI rule change for other issues. It is interesting that every time pass interference is called, there is a debate as to whether or not it should have been called by coaches and the players. If you talk to an offensive coach, they will say that a defensive back should not ever touch a receiver unless he is right on the line of scrimmage. While when you talk to a defensive player or coach, hand fighting and a little pushing and pulling should be fair game.
In reality, there shouldn't really be a debate because there is a standard as to what is and isn't PI. Most that still complain either don't know the standard or know it but don't agree with it, which is a different argument all together. If you want to argue the standard and the actual rule, that's one thing but it is a different discussion then the one involving the review of PI.
So let's stop blaming the review of PI for everything from extended games to the flat tire you had this morning.
Superman Honoured in BC
Much has been said about how great of a football player Geroy Simon was and he deserves all of the notoriety. The BC Lions did a fantastic job of honouring one of the league's greatest players; including one moment that really stood out during the ceremony. As good of a player that Simon was, he is even a better person and role model to so many young kids. It was great to see him surrounded by all those young amateur football players in the tunnel at BC place, all with huge smiles on their faces and all trying to do the Superman pose. It makes you wonder; how many young kids in our country signed up for football because they wanted to be the next Superman?