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Return of Instant Replay to Be Bad News for NFL

Column by Bo Light
and Brian Petersen
Sports Columnists

A hearty hello to our loyal readers who stuck with us during our brief strike. We're back now, after having talked the editors into a revenue sharing plan, which hopefully will help bring up some of the poorer columns. We still have limited space, however, so let's dive right in. We start, as always, with the NFL.

NFL Report

First, the good news: NFL owners are considering re-instating the instant replay system, or a version of it, for next season. Now, the bad news: NFL owners are considering re-instating instant replay next season.

While the past two seasons have definitely seen situations where replay would have been beneficial, these moments are few and far between. When it was in the league, replay was, for the most part, a tedious addition to the game. Most replays were inconclusive, and there were very few times when a crucial play hinged on a reversal.

The major problem with the instant replay system is that it encourages bad, or at least tentative, officiating. Some officials, afraid to make a controversial call because they would look bad if it were reversed, chose to look the other way on many calls. Others made extremely questionable calls thinking that they would be reversed if they were wrong, when in fact the replay was often inconclusive.

Admittedly, the quality of officiating has not been high the past two seasons. But it was much better this season than in 1993. The after-effects of replay are that officials are still not willing to make the big call, but that is gradually changing. Our guarantee: If replay comes back, everyone will suddenly remember why they wanted to get rid of it before.

On the Ice

It's tournament time in the world of college hockey, and everyone is playing their hardest in the hopes of being invited to the NCAA championship. The University of Maine is favored to take the title this year, but there will be a lot of competition, as Michigan, Boston University, and Colorado College have all had 25-win seasons.

The past few years have seen a shift in power among college hockey teams. The legendary Beanpot tournament, once a free-for-all between four of the nation's top teams, now consists of BU and three teams hoping for an upset. Harvard, ranked as high as fourth in the nation a year ago, is a has-been, while once lowly Maine has become a dynasty. In the midwest, two perennial hockey powers, Michigan State and Lake Superior State, have given way to Michigan and surprising Bowling Green, led by super center Brian Holtzinger.

We now humbly offer our predictions as to the outcome of college hockey's second season. Boston University and Hobey Baker candidate Mike Grier will stun Maine in the finals of the Hockey East tournament, and second-seeded Brown will take the ECAC title from Clarkson. In the CCHA and WCHA, there will be no such surprises, as Michigan and Colorado College should roll to the titles in their respective divisions.

Final Four: Maine, Michigan, Bowling Green, Colorado College. Bowling Green, a surprise winner over BU, runs out of surprises with a loss to Michigan, while Maine squeaks by Colorado to return to the finals for the second time in three years, and set up a repeat of the 1993 championship. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the result is also a repeat, as the Black Bears claim yet another title.

Pete's Top 10

1. Bruins

2. 'Cats

3. Rock Chalk Jayhawks

4. Tarheels

5. The Hawgs

6. Minutemen

7. Puppies

8. Terps

9. Demon Deacons

10. Spartans

Guess what? The nation's most prolific scoring team this season is not in Division I or II. Instead, it is Division III powerhouse Grinnell (Iowa) College who is averaging a mind-boggling 118 points and 18 3-pointers a game. Grinnell is led by the dynamic duo of senior Steve Diekmann and junior Ed Brands, who are averaging 40 and 31 points, respectively. Earlier this season, Diekmann set a Division III men's record by scoring 69 points and tied another by knocking down 14 treys versus Simpson College. More impressive, Grinnell gave up 167 points in that game and lost. Try playing defense, it might help!

ACC Wrap-up

"Holy cow!", Harry Carey. That's what we said after Virginia's impressive 9267 thrashing of the Terps on Sunday. The Terps' loss created the first four-way tie for the title in the conference's 41 year history. The ACC has clearly been the most dominant conference this season in college basketball, having four teams in the top 12 in this week's Coaches' Poll.

Amazingly, traditional powerhouse Duke has not been a factor in this dominance. Having an injury plagued year, plus the loss of Coach K in late December resulted in Duke's finish in the ACC cellar.

Yet, the Blue Devils have been competitive throughout the season, as witnessed in their 102100 loss to North Carolina and their last-second 9492 loss at home to Maryland.

We expect UNC, Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Duke to make the tournament. Why Duke? As Florida International reminded us again last weekend, Cinderella looks her best in March. Provided they win Thursday in the play-in game against NC State, Duke will face Wake on Friday. We think that Duke matches up well with Wake and should win.

Next, they face the winner of the UVA-Tech game, which Tech will win. Duke has already knocked off the Yellow Jackets once this year. We think it will be twice after Saturday. On Sunday, they will face either UNC or Maryland. As we mentioned earlier, Duke has played both teams tough this season. It's also very difficult for one team to beat another three times in one season. Duke wins and hits the road towards Seattle.

Here's our All-ACC team: point guard Travis Best, Georgia Tech; 2-guard Randolph Childress, Wake Forest; center Rasheed Wallace, UNC; small forward Jerry Stackhouse, UNC; power forward Joe Smith, Maryland. After watching his performance in last Wednesday's Terps-Devils game, Joe Smith wins Player of the Year honors. Smith finished that game with 40 points and 18 rebounds and tipped in the game-winning shot at the buzzer.

NBA Insights

Congratulations goes out to Dominique Wilkins, who, on Wednesday, became only the ninth player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points. The other eight players to have reached that milestone are Kareem, Wilt, the Big O, Jerry West, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Alex English, and John Havlicek.

We believe that "The Human Highlight Film" will one day be enshrined in Springfield. Although overshadowed by Central Division rivals Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas throughout his career, the former University of Georgia star is one of the best players to come along in the past fifteen years. While being a dominant scorer (he was the last player to lead the league in scoring before Jordan's run of seven straight scoring crowns), he has also consistently pulled down seven to eight rebounds a game throughout his career.

Critics argue that he is not deserving of Hall of Fame consideration because he has never won the title. True he hasn't won the big one, then again he has never had a strong supporting cast. Even great players, like Wilt and Jordan, didn't win until they had talent around them.

While he has never won the title Dominique does thrive in big game situations (watch Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Finals versus the C's). He is also a tremendous athlete, making his high-flying, powerful, 360-degree slam dunks look effortless. To top that off, he's a very hard worker, having battled back from a career-threatening Achilles' tendon injury. Look for Dominique to enter the Hall when he becomes eligible.

Trivia Question

This one comes from the annals of college hockey. The 1991 NCAA championship game, arguably the most exciting final in recent history, was a back-and-forth game that went to triple overtime before the national champion was crowned. Who won that game, what team did they beat, and (extra credit) what was the final score?

Send your answer, along with comments and the Florida International basketball team's roster, to easports@the-tech. Winners will receive a free hockey puck from Sports Etc. in Arlington.

Answer to last week's question: Kristen Fortino '96 correctly told us that Michigan State last played in the Final Four in 1979, when Magic Johnson led the Spartans to the title over Larry Bird and Indiana State. Also in the Final Four that year were Penn (yes, Penn) and DePaul.