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Big-Ten Using Instant Replay

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Instant replay is coming to the Big Ten this season, but it won't have much in common with what NFL fans are accustomed to seeing.

A former official - called the technical adviser - will be stationed in the press box, where he will watch the game on a 22-inch monitor. A reversal is only possible when the technical adviser approves it.

An electronic signal will be sent to game officials telling them to stop action when the adviser wants to review a play. He will consult with the referee via phone. Big Ten officials hope the entire process takes about a minute - or more than two minutes less than the NFL's average of 3:15 per review.

Unlike the pro game, coaches will not be allowed to issue challenges.

"Our referees have been told when that man upstairs speaks to you, he's the eye in the sky," said Big Ten coordinator of officials Dave Parry, who unveiled the plan Wednesday during the league's football media day. "He's going to correct your mistakes."

The NCAA gave the Big Ten permission to use instant replay on a one-year experimental basis last February. It will be used in all conference games as well as non-conference home games in which the visiting team grants approval.

"It is not and never intended to be modeled after the NFL," said Indiana's Gerry DiNardo, one of the Big Ten's 11 coaches who gave the system unanimous support. "But we have all watched games on TV during which there was a major officiating error that we all wish we could turn around."

Other conferences are expected to follow the Big Ten if it is a success this year. Purdue coach Joe Tiller said Syracuse has agreed to use instant replay when the teams play on Sept. 5 at Ross-Ade Stadium - even though the game will be officiated by a Big East crew.

"I think (Syracuse is) doing it because they want to see how this works," Tiller said.

Plays eligible to be reviewed include:

• Those governed by the sideline, goal line, end zone and end line. For instance, whether a player caught a pass inbounds or broke the plane of the goal line on an apparent touchdown are subject to review.

• Whether a pass was complete, incomplete, or intercepted; and whether a quarterback was actually attempting a forward pass or fumbled.

• Whether a ball carrier had enough forward progress to earn a first down and also whether he was down by contact.

"Their standard (for review) will be indisputable video evidence," Parry said.

Contact-foul penalties such as clipping or holding are ineligible for review, even if the technical adviser sees such an uncalled foul while reviewing a play for another reason.

"This is no panacea for correcting everything that goes wrong," Big Ten associate commissioner Mark Rudner said. "If five minutes later, TV comes back with a replay that is more conclusive and does offer irrefutable evidence ... it cannot be reversed."

The use of replay in the Big Ten has been discussed for more than a decade, but it gained momentum when Penn State asked for a review of the league's officiating after coach Joe Paterno complained about several calls during the 2002 season.

Parry said the league found 42 plays would have been eligible for review during the 2003 season, and 23 would have been reversed.

"I think it will be fine as long as it doesn't change the tempo and interfere with the flow of the game," Paterno said.

Replay will cost the Big Ten about $100,000, Rudner said. Most of the technology is in place due to the volume of conference games on TV. Last year, only one of the 45 intraconference games was not televised by either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Regional.

"Maybe we (the officials) can stay off the news at 10 o'clock at night," Parry said. "That's what we're hoping to do."

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