Inching Toward Instant Replay

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Southeastern Conference must take a few more steps, gain a little more approval and iron out plenty of details before an instant replay system becomes available for the 2005 season.

But, at this point, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt is confident enough to predict he'll see it in some capacity when the Razorbacks return to the field next fall.

"There's no question about it," Nutt said. "I'd be really surprised if it's not."

The introduction of instant replay in the SEC took a big step when Nutt and the rest of the conference coaches discussed the idea with commissioner Mike Slive at the Football Coaches Association Convention in Louisville, Kent., on Tuesday.

Newly-named LSU coach Les Miles was the only SEC coach that couldn't attend the meetings, but Nutt said the prospect of instant replay in the SEC garnered "100 percent" approval from the rest of the conference coaches.

"There was concern about disruption of the game, this and that," Nutt said. "But I tell you, getting the call right, we'll live with it. We're 100 percent for it."

Slive told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the coaches were "very enthusiastic about the idea" and he'll petition the NCAA to implement the system next season. He'll present it to athletic directors in hopes of final approval in March, but Nutt predicted it'll be in place before the SEC's annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla.

Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles said he's in favor of instant replay.

"I haven't talked to any (athletic directors), but if the coaches support it, I don't know how we wouldn't want to support it also," Broyles said. "I think it's a formality. I think it is built and so supported that it's just about working out the details now."

Broyles said one of the most important nuances is finding a cost efficient way to have replay available for games not on network or cable television.

Bobby Gaston, who is head of SEC officials, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel production of games not televised could cost as much as $20,000. He said the issue must be studied because there could be three or four games involving SEC teams a week that aren't scheduled for telecast.

"We're going to go to work on that," said Broyles, who believes the cost can be trimmed to $10,000 a game. "We're going to see what the costs are going to be so we can have kind of a projected amount we can talk about."

It also is uncertain whether the SEC replay system would be available for conference games only or the entire 11-game regular season. Then there's the question of who would determine a play should be reviewed.

Last season, the Big Ten had rousing success experimenting with a limited instant replay system that was available for 57 games. An official sat in the press box with a television replay machine and was the only person that could call for a review.

There were 43 plays reviewed last season and 21 were modified or overturned.

"I just think it takes it off the officials if you're going to have somebody in the booth," Nutt said. "There's not a coach throwing a red flag. There's a misperception of what it's like in the NFL. It's not. There's some people in the booth.

"They'll buzz down to the official and they'll take time to get it right."

That's why Broyles believes adopting an instant replay system will be a beneficial move for the SEC.

"Any time you can correct a mistake, you feel better about it," Broyles said. "It makes the officials better and everything. I think it helps everybody."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories