NCAA alters replay

College football purists may be disappointed to learn the game is adopting a change that will move it one step closer to pro football. But the revision, suggested by the Football Rules Committee and approved Tuesday by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, appears to be a positive step in this case.

The new rule allows a college coach to challenge one official ruling per game, provided his team has a timeout remaining. A replay official stationed in the press box will review the play in question. If he rules in the coach's favor and overturns the call, no timeout will be charged. If the replay official rules the play should stand as called, the coach who requested the review will be charged a timeout.

Essentially, the new NCAA system is the same as the one utilized by the National Football League, except the NFL allows each coach two challenges per game.

The NCAA approved video replay as an officiating aid in 2005, and nine of the 11 Div. 1-A conferences adopted it. A college coach could not request replays last fall, however. All he could do was call a timeout, glare at the press box and hope the review official would utilize the stoppage to give the previous play another examination.

NCAA brass supposedly balked at allowing a coach to challenge calls last fall because they feared the resultant delays would further lengthen games already stretched to three-plus hours by injury timeouts and TV timeouts. Obviously, one review per coach per game should not significantly affect a game's length. And, if the result is a better-officiated game, a few additional minutes would be a small price to pay.

The oversight panel also approved a rule which will allow the participating schools to increase or decrease the time allotted for halftime. The recommended halftime break is 20 minutes.

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