The NCAA, in conjunction with the BCS, has finally agreed to publicly announce the implementation of the new "Mulligan Rule."
The rule, also known as the Get Out of Jail Free card, was created at the onset of the 2009 season and has been made known only to key conference administrators, coaches, and replay booth officials up until this point.
Under the Mulligan rule, a conference will select a "favored" team prior to kickoff.
The favored team is then allowed one free replay booth overruling, or the sustaining of any call on the field per game, regardless of accuracy, so long as it meets the following criteria.
1. Mulligans may only be used by:
- A team with a top-ten ranking
- A team that is currently in contention for a national championship
- A team that is in first place in its conference
- A team in contention for a conference's second BCS berth
2. In order to take advantage of the Mulligan Rule:
The benefiting team must be designated and confirmed prior to kickoff by the conference. The coach of the benefiting team may contact replay booth officials directly during a close call or preferably delegate the communication to the conference itself.
Note: In most cases, the conference itself will have determined the desired outcome of the call before the play is reviewed by the official (if in fact the play is reviewed at all).
Mulligans must be used in a timely fashion to ensure the appearance that a clear decision had been made without hesitation. At the same time, even if the conference has signaled their preferred call to the field official, the official must wait at least one minute prior to announcing the conference's decision minutes so as give the appearance the play was carefully reviewed.
Field officials are cautioned to use their best judgement so as not to arouse suspicion.
Replay booth officials must report to the conference the final ruling before issued to the officials on the field. This allows the conference to ensure the outcome of the call is the most conducive to the objectives of the conference.
3. The Mulligan may only be used under the following circumstances:
When overruling a call on the field, the ultimate ruling must only be used when video evidence of the original call is disputable, ambiguous, and unclear to ensure the Mulligan is not misused or wasted.
When supporting a call, there must be video evidence demonstrating that the result of the play on the field does in fact solidify the victory for the favored team.
Note: Mulligans are recommended in particular for call that directly influence the outcome of the game.
4. Opposing Coaches are not permitted to mention or even allude to the use of the Conference Mulligan:
Perpetrating coaches will be reprimanded, fined excessively and portrayed through the media as whiners and poor sports. Coaches have no right to voice any opinion regarding calls no matter what the impact may have on their personal job security or on the feelings of their players.
Coaches may not refer to Mulligan calls as unjust to players who have spent countless hours working to be the best at their craft only to have plays to have games decided by conference via replay officials.
Player's time and effort must be used to the holistic benefit of the conference, not for their own personal gain. Any reference to the contrary will result in disciplinary action. Coaches may not refer to their athletes as "humans" who seek recognition for stellar play on the field either. Only conference referees and replay booth officials may be referred to as "human."
Coaches and schools must boycott any press member who chides the conferences for "insulting the intelligence of the fan" by consistently and ironically enacting rulings that "just happen to help the team the conference needs to win in every single instance."
Dealing With the Media
Benefiting coaches may also not refer to the use of Mulligans, but are required to answer suspicious media inquiries using the following guidelines:
1. Distract the media by directing attention to the effort of the players. After all, players on the winning team have worked hard all their lives and calls like these are the fruits of their hard work.
2. Refer to a particular call that was not in the team's favor during the game, even if the call was obviously correct. If one cannot be found, get the media to empathize with your position in a befriending manner by announcing that "that's the way the ball bounces" or "we've been on the other side of close calls too."
3. If the media insists, rebuke the media by reminding them of what little monetary gain officials receive and the sacrifices made by the officials to perform this work. Also, incur sympathy by alluding to the many derogatory phone calls and threats these officials receive.
4. Explain to fans and the media that the winning team "would have won anyway." Deny that the call had any impact on momentum, field position or the final outcome of the gain.
Note: Do not refer to the time and money spent by the fans to observe a game where the conference has decided the outcome beforehand.
Fans are emotionally attached to teams. They do not see the big picture nor do they understand the money involved with a prestigious BCS Bowl. Over the long haul, it's in their best interest that the conference helps determine outcome.
5. Conference administrators will not discuss calls with the media. Instead, reassuring talk will be provided to indicate that conference matters will be handled by the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
6. If the media or fans present indisputable evidence that shows the replay booth acted in biased faith, responses must be used in the following order:
- The conference shall provide a formal and believable excuse. For example, a conference can identify how poorly equipped replay booth officials are. They may add that due to the recession, such officials have been forced to use older audio equipment with 15 inch screens or smaller and no HD technology. If the media points out that that particular conference had just signed a $3 Billion TV deal, acknowledge that upgrades take time, and the situation will be revisited and refer to step two.
- Inform the press that conference policies and procedures dictate that only retired field officials could be employed to man the replay booth. Inherently, these officials due to age and over-usage, suffer from poor vision.
Do not allow the media to point out that these may also be the most easily influenced because they have no career to lose.
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