Big Ten discusses replay plan for 2004

The conference hosted a press conference on the new instant replay system, which will be initiated this fall

CHICAGO—In an effort to increase consistency and ease the pressure placed on referees, Big Ten officials will initiate instant replay into Big Ten conference games, and most-likely non-conference football games, beginning this season.

"This is no panathea for correcting everything that goes on in a game," Mark Rudner, Big Ten associate commissioner, said. "We know that there are going to be plays and calls that get through … It's a simple system with very high standards and we hope it will be successful."

Like its use in the NFL, the NCAA version of instant replay can be used on almost all play issues and debates over game time. Personal fouls cannot be replayed. Three former Big Ten officials will sit in the press booth, one known as a technical adviser, the second as a communicator who acts as a liaison between the booth and the field and the third as operator who controls the video.

When an official on the ground has made a questionable call, the technical adviser pushes a button that pages the officials and stops the game time. The official uses a hard-line phone to communicate upstairs where using technology similar to TiVO, the technical adviser can watch replays from the television feed and can make the decision using indisputable evidence on whether the play should be overturned. All of which should ideally occur within one minute of the game stopping.

Instant replay, which will cost the conference less than $100,000, has found great support among coaches even if, unlike the NFL, they won't have the power to order a challenge.

"It's a measure that will help college football," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "When there's a mistake … we can correct that and get it right then I think it's certainly worth it. We've all seen it happen and it's nobody's fault, but it happens and I commend our league for doing it."

An earlier study by the Big Ten showed that in two-thirds of last years games would not have needed instant replays, and less than half of the times when instant replay was needed did the call need to be overturned.

If successful, six of the eight member Big Ten committee would need to vote in favor of continuing the program. The goal, said Dave Perry, Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officials, is to correct obvious mistakes and keep officiating off the evening news.

"The irony of officiating is that no one remembers the ones you get right," Perry said. "They'll only remember the ones you miss … Our officials want this…because at the end of the day you know you got the play right."

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