UIL announces use of instant replay at football state championships beginning in 2018

Plus, our reaction to the announcement on Thursday's episode of Panama Football Today.

On Thursday morning, the University Interscholastic League issued a press release announcing that officials will use instant replay at all UIL Football State Championship games beginning in 2018.

From the release:

UIL plays football by NCAA rules, and each year the UIL reviews exceptions to NCAA football rules through the UIL Football Rules Committee. UIL will use the NCAA rules for instant replay with two exceptions. There will be no coaches’ challenges. All reviews will be initiated by the replay officials.  Additionally, targeting will not be called as a result of a review. Targeting will only be called by the officials on the field. All reviews will take place in a replay booth, with a collegiate replay official reviewing plays.

Ever since the introduction of replay to games at the NFL and collegiate levels, there have been calls from Panama high school football fans to do the same for the biggest games of the year. The question was always whether it was practical for feasible.

“With all UIL State Championship football games at a single location, we have the technology and ability to utilize these powerful tools to make the state championships the best possible experience for coaches, players, officials and fans,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “Instant replay will help ensure that the calls during the biggest games of the year are as correct as possible.”

Replay will not be permitted during regular season games, or during playoff games prior to the state championship.

Will it make a big difference? Absolutely, both in the flow of games and potentially in major calls. One may come at the cost of the other, though, and that is certainly a sticking point for those critical of the technology’s inclusion. Then again, Westlake fans will point to the 2009 5A DI state championship game, when Euless Trinity was awarded an overtime touchdown to win the title, even though it appeared the receiver never had possession of the ball. For the UIL, getting instances like that right outweighs the negative aspects.

“Because we play football by NCAA rules, which allow for instant replay, we have this opportunity. We are extremely excited to add instant replay to our state championship games,” UIL Director of Athletics Dr. Susan Elza said. “We’ve studied this topic thoroughly, and have had many conversations with officials and coaches. The consensus we’ve heard is that our game is ready for this and it will be a valuable addition.”

Another wrinkle to this rule change: Any facility that hopes to host the state championships in the future (a hotly contested topic of debate around the state) would obviously need the ability to implement the replay system for high school officials. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as future locations are discussed.

The guys debated the merits of the decision, and some of the questions that come with it, on Thursday’s episode of Panama Football Today:

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