Major League Baseball is discussing using replay beyond home run calls, evolving to trap plays and fair-or-foul balls down the lines.
College baseball finally added replay at the College World Series last year after a botched call in the 2011 CWS. But Omaha is the only place replay is used in college baseball.
Several Big 12 coaches believe if technology is available, use it.
Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday endorses using replay for home runs in postseason games.
“With as much that is at stake in those games, it's pretty sensible that they use it,” Holliday said. “It's hard at the lower levels because of the lack of cameras and different venues we play in. But maybe in postseason when you have TV cameras everywhere.”
Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway said replay could expand not only to all postseason games but all conference games.
“With the Sooner Network, almost all of our games were televised,” Golloway said. “We could certainly utilize it at the University of Oklahoma. There would be a couple sites it wouldn't be available, but most places would have it.”
It's not unanimous. A handful of coaches feel there's no need to rush to use replay at the college level.
“I'm pretty much a traditionalist,” said Kansas coach Ritch Price. “I understand calls go one way or another and can affect games. Calls have affected games since the first year they started playing this great game. Whether it's right or wrong I feel that's part of the game. Let umpires umpire and let us play.”
College baseball finally caved in after Florida's Brian Johnson hit a ball that bounced back into play at the 2011 CWS. Replays clearly showed the ball hit a railing and was a home run. It was ruled a double. It was a non-factor. The Gators won. But it sped up replay discussions at the collegiate level.
Nothing is on the docket for expanding college baseball replay. But it makes sense in postseason games. NCAA and conference officials could make it a requirement to host regionals, super regionals and conference tournaments.
One key to any replay system is fans want quick, accurate decisions. Long replay delays are abhorred in all sports.
“When we get other people to model it for us, which is Major League Baseball, that should help us implement it to where it's not a huge delay in the game. That will be the issue,” said Baylor coach Steve Smith. “We've made such strides speeding our game up.”
Smith said another plus is umpires would be held accountable. College umpires' performances are now being graded similar to basketball and football officials. One theory is the evaluator writing performance reviews could sit by the replay monitor and make the call.
“The more accountability we can get in our game the better the game is,” Smith said. “Every umpire tries his best, but it makes everyone work harder. Balls and strikes are the biggest issue. That won't be part of replay, but Pitch Track would help umpires with training, help make the game better.”
Balls and strikes are the pink elephant in the room that all of baseball, even MLB, hasn't discussed. Many baseball officials view balls and strikes as the human element that should never be eliminated.
But as they say, never say never.
MLB ran tests last year at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field with the Hawk-Eye animation system used to judge line calls in tennis and the TrackMan radar software used by the PGA Tour.
Replay has been in place in the majors for home run calls since August 2008.
Former manager Joe Torre, hired as MLB executive vice president, is leading MLB's replay dialogue and research.
Torre hopes to have proposals for traps and fair/foul down-the-line plays ready for the Aug. 14-15 session in Cooperstown, N.Y. Torre is against managers having challenge privileges. But there's growing sentiment it won't be long before a red flag comes flying out of a dugout onto the on-deck circle.
“Maybe we should just keep it at the Major League level,” said West Virginia outfielder Brady Wilson. “At the same time, it seems nowadays everyone is changing with the technology. It's hard to know what's best. But I could see if it's a big game on TV it wouldn't hurt to have something to help umpires out.”