The rule change could save at least one sportcoat. (Associated Press)

The charge/block call has vexed nearly everyone involved with college basketball for years now. The refs have trouble with it because of the speed with which the game is played these days and the fact that the NCAA keeps changing the rule. Coaches and players don’t like it because it doesn’t seem to be called with anything resembling consistency. Fans don’t like it because BOOOOO REFFFFF!

Jim Boeheim really doesn’t like it:

In 2013, the NCAA clarified the rule to state that defenders must be in legal guarding position when the player with the ball begins his upward motion to shoot or pass; otherwise, it’s a block. The change helped boost scoring and got positive reviews from just about everyone — except the referees, who complained that it was too hard to call. And so the NCAA changed it back to the previous rule after just one season. Now, a defensive player had to be in legal guarding position before the player leaves the floor to pass or shoot, lest he be called for a block.

Scoring dipped to near-historic lows in the first season after the reversal, and though it rose last season after a sweeping number of changes were made to the game — a 30-second shot clock certainly helped — there still isn’t much clarity on charges and blocks.

“It’s getting worse every year,” John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard in August. “The more they tinker with it, the harder it is on referees. I think we should go back to when the offensive player leaves the floor. The other rule where he gets into his upward motion is so hard to figure out. You’ve got to know what the offensive player is doing and also see where the defensive player is.”

And so the NCAA is going to try something new on a limited basis this season: instant replay for charge/block calls in the so-called restricted area under the basket, where defenders are automatically whistled for blocking on any collision.

The experiment will be limited to two conferences — the Mid-American and the Big Ten — and only will be used in conference games. Reviews will only be allowed in the last two minutes of the second half or overtime and can be triggered either by an official who believes that an incorrect call was made or by a coach who appeals a call. The instant replay will only determine whether the defender was in the restricted zone on a block-charge call; it can’t be used on a no-call.

While some will complain that the last thing college basketball needs is more stoppages of play, it could help provide a small bit of clarity on what has been a perplexing issue.