Breaking Down Instant Replay

HOT SPRINGS, Va. - Wondering how instant replay will work in the ACC this year?

In order to avoid embarrassing mistakes and to ensure that the right team gets a deserved victory, the ACC has joined eight other leagues across the country and installed a instant replay system that is somewhat different than what is used in the NFL.

"Instant replay is not a cure-all," Tommy Hunt, the coordinator of ACC football officials, said Tuesday at the annual ACC Football Kickoff. "We'll still make mistakes. Replay is kind of like a new car. It looks good and smells good, but you don't know what you've got until you drive it. It's going to be that way for us until we get the kinks out."

The $450,000, high tech system installed by DVSport Software is supposed to make the ability to review a play much quicker than the NFL and the two minutes-plus it took Big 10 officials on average to review plays last season.

In fact, the ACC wants it done within 90 seconds.

"In looking at what the Big 10 did over a two-year process, which we're going to model, it only extended the game slightly," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "The fan watching at home didn't get a sense of intrusion with instant replay. What we want is to get the initial call on the field right. I think the officials welcome it with open arms. We've put a lot of work into it."

There are other deviations from the system used in the NFL.

In the ACC, coaches and officials on the field may not ask for a review. A review can only be triggered by the technical advisor from the press box. Also, there is no limit to the number of plays that can be reviewed, and timeouts will not be charged to teams based on the outcome of a review.

Finally, a difference is the status of a game clock can also be reviewed.

In all instances, "irrefutable video evidence" must be seen to overturn a call.

During televised games, up to eight cameras may be used for instant replay. When the games are not on television, there will be at least four cameras used (one in the press box, one in the end zone and two on the sidelines).

Also, instant replay can be used for non-conference games if both schools agree to use it. There's no word yet whether bowl games will use the system this year.

Unlike in basketball, instant replay will not be used in fights.

"We might be able to help identify people, but we feel the video evidence is best handled by the commissioner's office with suspensions," Hunt said.

Here are the plays that are and are not reviewable as determined by the NCAA:

Plays governed by sideline, goal line and end line: Scoring plays, including a runner breaking the plane of the goal line; Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted at sideline, goal line and end line; Runner/receiver in or out of bounds; Recovery of loose ball in bounds.

Passing plays: Pass ruled complete/incomplete/intercepted in the field of play and end zones; Touching of a forward pass by an ineligible receiver; Touching of a forward pass by a defensive player; Passer forward pass or fumble (if ruled incomplete, the play is finalized); Illegal forward pass or illegal handing beyond the line of scrimmage; Illegal forward pass or illegal handing after change of possession; Forward or backward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

Other detectable infractions: Runner ruled not down; Forward progress errors with respect to first down; Touching of a kick; Number of players on field; Clock adjustments; Fourth-down/try fumble plays.

Not reviewable plays: Holding; Offside/encroachment; Pass interference; Personal fouls (e.g., late hits); Illegal blocks; Illegal formations; Face mask; Taunting/excessive celebration; False starts; Roughing the passer/kicker; Fighting participants.

BOWL ADDITIONS
Swofford officially announced the addition of two more bowl affiliations with the ACC starting for the 2006 season. The new bowls are the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco and will match teams from the ACC and PAC-10 and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, which will feature teams from the ACC and SEC.

Another feature is that all eight bowls will now be played after Christmas, something Swofford, teams and fans all wanted.

"To pick up these two bowls is a tremendous feat for us," Swofford said. "We think we've upgraded our postseason opportunity tremendously, and obviously that wouldn't have happened without a 12-member conference."

However, the ACC will still only be affiliated with six bowls this year, but Swofford said he believes the Liberty Bowl in Memphis and Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego might not be able to fill both of their slots with predetermined conferences.

RULE CHANGES
Hunt also announced a couple of new rule changes that will take place for the upcoming season.

First, players trying to block a kick are no longer allowed to run and leap into the air and land on a player. Last year, they were allowed to run and jump into the air as long as they landed on the ground or their own player.

Also, there used to be a "blocking zone" in which offensive lineman could legally clip defenders, but that rule is now gone. No clipping is allowed ever.

Another thing officials will be looking for this year is to clamp down on excessive celebrations following scores. A team will be penalized 15 yards for each player that participates in the celebration. If at least three players are guilty of excessive celebration, that team will be forced to kickoff from its own five-yard-line.

And any player who takes off his helmet in celebration will automatically be disqualified and ejected from the game. The team will also be forced to kickoff from its own 10.

Another rule change involves intentional grounding. A quarterback now must be outside the two tackles in order to throw the ball away without being penalized. Previously he was required to be at least five yards past the middle of the offensive line.

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