Instant replay, a possible addition to SEC football

Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 15, 2005 at 2:17 a.m.

Like it or not, Gator fans, instant replay may be on its way to your Southeastern Conference football games.


Sophomore Chad Jackson catches a pass near the sideline as a referee watches on during the Florida State game on November 20.

Certain controversial or missed calls in SEC football games may have a chance to be overturned as soon as next football season, after a meeting of the American Football Coaches Association, where an agreement between most SEC coaches was made to bring instant replay to the football sidelines.

"The coaches were very excited about the possibility of having instant replay," said Charles Bloom, associate commissioner of the SEC. "Most, if not all, wanted it."

To be brought into use by the SEC, however, instant replay would have to be voted on and approved by the conference's athletic directors during an annual meeting in March.

Information about the success, costs and effects on the time of games will be provided to the athletic directors at the meeting, Bloom said.

"We will gather as much information about it as possible, looking at the Big Ten statistics," he said.

Instant replay was brought to college football by the Big Ten conference, which used it last year under a one-year contract.

Play was stopped due to instant replays in the 2004 Big Ten season 49 percent of the time, with 21 overturned calls in 43 total stoppages, according to the Big Ten end of season press release.

Detractors of instant replay discuss the length of delays in games being too long because of instant replay.

The Big Ten, though, had a shorter time per review than the National Football League did in the 2004 seasons.

The average time per review of calls in the 2004 season was two minutes and 39 seconds in the Big Ten, in comparison to the NFL time per review of three minutes and 20 seconds, according to the press release.

The average time of games that used instant replay in the 2004 season was just under three hours and 20 minutes.

The process of calling for a review in college football instant replay is slightly different than that of the NFL.

"This will not be too similar to NFL instant replay," Bloom said. "Coaches will not have the decision to throw a flag, it will come from the officiating crew or booths."

In the NFL, the call for a review during a game before two minutes left in a half is up to the head coaches, who may throw a flag at a questionable call. During the last two minutes of a half or game, all calls come from the officiating booths.

"Big Ten coaches were fine with the process, only sometimes getting annoyed that they couldn't make the call like NFL coaches can," said Robin Jentes, associate director of communications for the Big Ten. "They approved of it more and more as the season went on."

If voted for by the athletic directors, conference officials will still have other decisions to make about the process, including camera availability during non-televised SEC games and whether non-conference home games will have instant replay or not.

In the Big Ten, it was used in all 44 conference games. It was used in 13 non-conference home games as well.

"From reading what was said after the non-conference games, I think it was a huge success for the other teams, they took to it very well," Jentes said.

For the non-conference games, the visiting coaches decide on whether or not to use instant replay for the games.

A topic often brought up during discussion about the addition of instant replay into a college football conference is the cost of putting it into work.

Costs of instant replay include the stadium ability to use it, extra cameras and camera operators, and training referees and crew officials to use it.

"Last season, it was about $250,000 total for hardware, software and personnel costs," Jentes said.

The Big Ten cost is for an 11-team conference. The SEC has 12 members. The costs, though, should be about the same, said Bloom.

Even though the Big Ten was under a one-year trial period, which it is looking to extend through the 2005 football season, Bloom said the SEC wants more than that.

"It is a long-term commitment for the SEC," he said. "We want to plan on success, not on failure."

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