Instant Replay

Bobby Gaston, supervisor of SEC football officials, said he was happy with the first-week results of the newly installed instant replay system.

``Ten games, no overturns,'' Gaston said before the Ole Miss-Memphis game. ``I'm very pleased with the fact the networks fed us as many replays as they did. We can watch a play four, five times (because of the touch activated TiVo system) before deciding whether to stop play.''

Play was stopped only once, in the final seconds of the Vanderbilt-Wake Forest game. A Wake Hail Mary pass was disputed by the Demon Deacons. The ball deflected off a Vanderbilt player and a Demon Deacon dove for the catch deep in Vandy territory. Officials ruled he trapped the ball. Replays supported the call.

The setting provided another reason instant replay is good for college football. Wake fans booed the non-catch, then waited in a hushed tone when it was announced the play was under review. It was shown several times on the Jumbotron. When the call was upheld, fans accepted it, rather than stew as they would have without benefit of replay.

Gaston said most SEC games lasted less than 3 hours, 10 minutes. Last year's average was 3:17.

``It's good that we can do replay without stopping games,'' Gaston said.

There is a misnomer about replay. When it was reported the Big Ten reviewed 43 plays, that meant 43 stoppages. Many plays were reviewed but evidence was conclusive before the next snap, negating the need to stop play.

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks was displeased that a late fumble by his quarterback was not, in his words, reviewed. Not so. Replays showed the call was correct, thus, no need for stoppage in play.

``We'll not stop a game to satisfy a coach,'' Gaston said. ``We're there to correct mistakes. He (Brooks) was the only SEC coach who didn't come to our clinic or send a representative.''

Gaston said the Kentucky-Louisville game is officiated each year by a Big Ten crew because the schools won't agree to use officials from the visiting team's conference. That's the only non-SEC series that uses a neutral crew, Gaston said.

One unnamed football official was apprehensive about replay for three reasons. He wasn't sure the technology would be sufficient, he thought it would add length to the game, and he didn't want the replay official in the press box trying to referee the game.

All three of his concerns have been answered, he said.

Gaston also had reservations. But he, too, is convinced it's good for the game - and his profession.

``If we make a mistake that affects the outcome, I'm in favor of replay,'' Gaston said. ``The official doesn't have to catch heat for two or three weeks when he makes an error (because it's corrected). Officials should accept it in that light, It's a bad thing to make a mistake and see it on TV and read about it the next two or three days in the paper. That's a pretty sad time in his house.''

When the SEC experimented on reply at scrimmages conducted by Georgia and Vanderbilt, Gaston feared it wouldn't work. Each team went to a no-huddle offense. But Gaston learned the TiVo system could handle the quicker pace.

``The equipment is so fast, it's not as much of a problem as I anticipated,'' Gaston said.

* Tennessee's much-ballyhooed offensive line didn't play well against UAB.

Even though the Blazers rarely had more than seven people in the box, the Vols managed just 138 rushing yards.

Left tackle Arron Sears had the best game among the linemen. Rob Smith played well at center. First-year starter Ramon Foster at left guard was average but he did as well as right guard Cody Douglas, who as a big disappointment. Right tackle Albert Toeaina continues to struggle with run blocker; he's better as pass protection.

And fullback Cory Anderson, after the first two series, didn't block well.

While coach Phillip Fulmer applauded the line's depth during preseason, the Vols made just one substitution up front - Eric Young played several second-half snaps.

``We can't be soft inside and we can't drop passes,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories