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And after further review: Critics fought for instant replay when there was nothing, now second-guessing system
Dan Lenzen
Antelope Staff
Photo from Internet
In the NFL, officials go under the hood to check out instant replays of plays challenged on the field. In college football, the officials on the field rely on officials up in the press box to check out the videos and make the call for them.

College football instant replay has become a very controversial subject because many college coaches disagree with the way college football instant replay is used or implemented.

The instant replay started conditionally in the Big Ten conference in 2004. It began as an experiment in that conference, and the Big Ten was the only conference to use it that year.

In 2005, the Big XII conference initially sought to provide field monitors to allow the on-field referee to assist the replay official; however, by the first game of the season, they decided to provide equipment only to the instant replay booth.

Each team is allowed one challenge where, if a coach feels a bad call was made, the coach can challenge the call, and it will be reviewed upstairs in the instant replay booth.

Unlike in the NFL where the on-field referee makes the decision on the play, the upstairs replay official determines the call. Every play in college football is said to be reviewed, and the upstairs replay official may call down to the referee to stop play to allow for a review of a particular play.

Only one play may be reviewed at a time, and a call cannot be reviewed if the next play has already been run.

Every play is said to be reviewed, but many wonder if each play really is. Other coaches want to be clear on the consistency of replay. A play cannot be overturned unless there is indisputable video evidence that the play was called incorrectly on the field.

Many coaches question this aspect. After an Oklahoma Sooners versus Oregon Ducks game in 2006, Bob Stoops questioned a play. The Sooners were winning the game when Oregon scored with one minute and 12 seconds to go. Oregon lined up for an onside kick. Oregon was awarded the ball, but Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops challenged the call. He felt (one) that Oklahoma had recovered the ball and (two) that the ball had not traveled the necessary 10 yards required on a kickoff anyway. The play was reviewed, and Oregon was still awarded the ball even though on almost every camera angle it was obvious that the ball did not travel 10 yards and that Oklahoma had recovered the ball regardless. Oregon kept the ball and eventually scored on the drive to beat the Sooners that day.

After the game, Stoops questioned the integrity of instant replay. “Yeah, I would like to know how instant replay works because I have no idea. Every video replay I saw of it on the field was obvious that we recovered the ball,” Stoops said. “I felt there was no question about it. Last I knew, the ball had to go 10 yards which I feel that it clearly didn’t. To lose a game on a call like that that was challenged is unacceptable to me,” Stoops said according to an AP report in a press conference after the contest.

Many fans of college football feel that more often than not, instant replays go in the favor of big-name, high money BCS conference schools, and conspiracy theories say that the NCAA regulates instant replay to help the big-name schools so that the NCAA can get their big-name matchups in championship games that they want.

Those were the cries after the Nov. 7, 2009 LSU-Alabama game. At a key moment in the fourth quarter, LSU had seemingly made a game-changing interception, but the play was reviewed. Then, the call went in the favor of Alabama— although video evidence clearly showed that both feet were in bounds. Many college football fans believed that the call was favorable to Alabama because they are a big-name school with a lot of money, and the NCAA wanted to ensure that they and Florida played in the SEC championship game.

The NCAA and replay officials greatly defend instant replay and insist that the integrity of the game is the most essential detail of instant replay.

Gordon Riese, an instant replay official who is in the booth making reviews during games, defends the use of replay. “We get about 99 percent of the calls correct, but of course our goal is 100 percent. But nobody is perfect and even though we may feel like the call should go one way, we have to go by what the video evidence tells us,” Riese said. “Sometimes it is a very tough call because it has to be indisputable video evidence to be overturned, and a lot of times you can’t tell if it is or not, so then you have to go with the call on the field. There are absolutely no conspiracy theories or ‘homer’ calls,” Riese said.

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