Thursday, July 21, 2005

Instant-replay rules outlined


Soon, Big 12 Conference football coaches may implement a "no-replay" offense into their playbooks.

The "no-replay" offense would be similar to the no-huddle with one purpose: If a blown call goes in your favor, gather the troops, get downfield and snap the football as soon as possible.

That's so instant-replay referees upstairs have as little time as possible to stop play and review the call. It goes the other way, too -- if a coach feels ripped off, he can call a timeout, giving the replay booth more time to determine whether a play should be reviewed.

Such strategies might come out of the woodwork this year -- an experimental season in the Big 12 for instant replay. Conference officials explained the intricacies of the experiment Wednesday at Big 12 media days and exposed a couple of quirks.

The replay booth -- which will consist of three people -- has from the end of a play to the hike on the next play to determine whether a call should be reviewed. The officiating can't help what a team does to speed up or slow down the time between snaps (outside of the normal play clock), so that's one thing the coaches can control.

That's about it, though. Unlike the NFL, coaches have no ability to challenge a call and send it to the booth for review. Though some coaches vouched for it -- notably Nebraska's Bill Callahan, a former NFL coach -- it ultimately was punted for a few reasons, one being that assistant coaches in the press box, unlike in the NFL, aren't permitted to have televisions in their booths, giving the head coaches no definitive evidence or trustworthy advice to challenge a call.

Other notes on the new instant-replay system:

¢ Once the booth officials choose to review a play, they'll hit a button that alerts all the officials on the field. From that point, there is no limit on time or how many different replays the official can watch. In the Big Ten, which experimented with a similar setup last year, an average stoppage lasted 2:39.

¢ If a questionable call is made late in a blowout game -- say, a 45-7 score -- replay officials won't review the play since it won't affect the outcome.

¢ Stadium video boards -- like the MegaVision in Memorial Stadium's south end zone -- won't see what replay officials are seeing during a review. By rule, stadium video boards only can show one replay of the last play at full speed.

¢ There's a good chance fans won't have a clue what's even being reviewed. If play is stopped, a review is made and the call is reversed, the head official will announce details to the crowd. But if it is determined the call on the field stands, the officials never will reveal what they were reviewing.

As supervisor of football officials Tim Millis said, "you'll love the suspense."


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