Collaborative replay, something akin to baseball’s centralized replay review system, is coming to the Southeastern Conference this fall with one primary goal in mind.
“We can’t live with incorrect outcomes,” SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said Tuesday at SEC Football Media Days. “I think through this process we’ll do that.”
Shaw, who is in his sixth year as the SEC’s coordinator of officials, is excited for the innovation to an aging replay system.
“Over the last 10-plus years, there’s been very little change in the process of instant replay,” he said. “It’s time to take a look at it and continue to drive for excellence in replay. We can’t just stay status quo.”
Shaw said the foundation of the collaborative replay process starts with new replay gear at all SEC venues. It’s a faster system that also incorporates views from the coaches’ sideline and end-zone cameras.
The SEC also is building up its replay infrastructure at the conference office in Birmingham, Ala., which will serve as the hub for the collaborative process.
Three replay officials with feeds from every game will have live communication with replay officials at each stadium, but the final determination remains under the purview of the in-stadium replay official.
“The replay official in the stadium will still be the primary person to make the final determination of any overturn or not,” Shaw said. “They will also be primarily to stop the game. But with that collaborative communications, now, when we go into a stop, we’ll be able to talk together and ultimately what we believe is come up with the right answer through that collaborative process.”
Shaw, who doesn’t expect the new system to lengthen the time of replay reviews (currently 1 minute and 21 seconds on average), hopes the changes will allow for more consistency from game to game and week to week and also improved accuracy.
Among other changes:
▪ The medical-observer rule, which allows for an independent observer to stop the game and check a player for signs of a head injury, has been fully adopted for 2016.
It was an experimental rule last fall and Shaw said there was only one play stopped by the medical observer during 2015.
▪ The replay booth will have broadened authority when it comes to targeting penalties, including the ability to call or rescind the penalty from the booth in egregious circumstances and to review all aspects of the play.
A sliding ball carrier, who’s given himself up, is now classified as a defenseless player and subject to targeting rules.
▪ Most coach-called timeouts are 30-second timeouts, but once per half each team will be able to call a “full timeout,” providing more time to discuss strategy. Timeouts called in overtime also can be extended.
▪ Coaches who receive two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game will be ejected. A similar rule already exists for players.
▪ Blocking below the waist is allowed inside the tackle box until the ball leaves as long as offensive player never leaves the tackle box. Players can no longer loop out, mimicking a pass route then circle back and block a defender low.
▪ Tripping the ball carrier to bring him down is no longer permitted.
▪ If the team with the lead commits a foul in the final two minutes of a half, the clock will stop until the next snap.