Saturday's USC-Notre Dame had everything one could ask for in a great college football game. There were two big-time rivals -- one trying to hold on to a No. 1 ranking while seeking its third straight national title, and the other trying to recapture past glory. There were great players (Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija) making great plays in one of the greatest sporting venues in college football. Finally, there was a fantastic finish with excitement, uncertainty and spontaneous decision-making. It was the best game of the season and a classic for the ages. But isn't it interesting that in this age of instant replay, it wasn't involved in this epic game? More importantly, instant replay wasn't missed one bit.
No, this was an old-fashioned, classic game. Players and game officials made mistakes, as they are made in life by all of us, without the opportunity for review and correction. Sports are supposed to teach us to deal with adversity, and that's just what the USC and Notre Dame players did. They found a way to overcome those mistakes (even the occasional mistake by an official) and decided the game with their performance. Perhaps that's what Pete Carroll expected when he said no to instant replay. Regardless, we were treated to a great game that was not needlessly interrupted in the name of "getting it right" on every official's ruling.
This is the first season that instant replay is being used extensively in college football. Nine of 11 conferences elected to give it a try after many were impressed with the Big Ten's use of it last season. However, since Notre Dame is not affiliated with a conference, instant replay is not automatically used in its home games. The decision to use instant replay belongs to the visiting coach and Carroll elected not to use instant replay. He says it disrupts the flow of the game. Maybe Carroll is on to something, because instant replay would have made this game less enjoyable.