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COLUMN: ACC Enhancing Instant Replay

The ACC is leading the officiating charge with collaborative instant replay usage in the upcoming 2016 football season.

The Atlantic Coast Conference became the first conference to adopt collaborative instant replay earlier this month, but was recently joined by the Southeastern Conference in their efforts to improve officiating.

Instant replay is increasingly being utilized in sports, particularly basketball and American football. Both the National Football League and NCAA have a list of pre-defined rules under which instant replay may be used, with that list growing each year.

The average NCAA game has close to three instant replay reviews. These reviews last two to three minutes on average and usually result in a television timeout for the network broadcasting the game. These delays in the game have conferences looking for new ways to reduce these wait times while still fixing any on-field officiating errors.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is leading the charge in collaborative instant replay review. The new rule allows for part of instant replays to be done off-site at the college level. In the experimental phase, the ACC with have a team in Greensboro be reviewing every ACC game played at ACC venues, including non-conference games and Notre Dame. The review headquarters will be watching every game live and have full access to all the angles and cameras in the stadium.

The ACC is hoping that the headquarters will result in higher-quality officiating on the field while also reducing the amount of time that current instant-replay reviews last.

Overturned calls and general issues with officiating are what’s prompting the ACC to take this corrective action. The end of the Miami versus Duke football game is the most egregious error. In that game, Miami won on eight laterals on a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Following the victory, the ACC stated that four officiating errors were made on the final drive alone. The errors resulted in the suspension of the entire officiating crew for two games.

The national attention on the poor officiating in conference forced the ACC to take corrective action. The Southeastern conference joined the ACC in adopting collaborative replay, and look for more conferences to follow what the ACC and the SEC have done.

Errors in officiating are what’s prompted major conferences to turn to expand the use of instant replay, but it’s important not to lose sight on the game itself. There is something to be said for the human element in sports. Judgement calls have, and should always be, a part of the game. It's important to let the game have its own eb and flow.

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Making the correct call is always the goal, but officiating crews shouldn't rely on the crutch of instant replay to get calls right. Timeliness is also a factor, which the ACC is attempting to combat with its review headquarters. 

Getting a call right is the goal of the officials, but so is getting the right in as little an amount of time as possible. This has been an issue in the last few seasons, with an increase in the delay a review causes to a game. 

The move that the ACC is making, even though an experiment, to combat this negative effect is the right one.


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