The Southeastern Conference has the ambitious goal this football season of attaining a higher level of replay accuracy without increasing the length of games.
For the first time, the SEC will use a centralized video room at the league headquarters in Birmingham to assist replay decisions being made throughout the facilities of its 14 member institutions. Three individuals from the SEC's officiating program will be in the video center with the sole focus of supporting the collaborative replay process.
"Perfection is impossible, but we want to be consistent, and we want to be correct in the outcomes," SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said in a news conference last week at the league's spring meetings in Destin, Fla. "We do not feel like these are going to add time to the game. We hope and we suspect that we'll be quicker through the process."
Neither Shaw nor league commissioner Greg Sankey, regardless of whether they're in the video center or at a stadium, will take part in collaborative replay.
According to the SEC office, the replay official at each venue still will have primary responsibility to stop a game for review and will conduct the replay process as before. The difference moving forward will be the added element of the replay official being in constant contact with the three replay officials at the league's video center during the review to assist in determining the correct outcome for the play in question based upon football rules and replay protocol.
All reviewable plays will be subject to the collaborative replay process, and that includes targeting, which coaches believe could use more scrutiny.
"The big thing for coaches is the ejection part," Auburn's Gus Malzahn told reporters last week in Destin. "When you lose a player, some of those calls have kind of been in a gray area. The more people that can be in central command to give one person advice, it does nothing but help."
Collaborative replay will be used in all SEC games, conference and nonconference, held at campus venues around the league. It will be used at the two SEC games that take place at neutral sites — Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington, Texas) and Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville) — as well as the league championship game at the Georgia Dome in early December.
The three officials in the video center will have the authority to alert the replay official at the venue if they believe the game should be stopped for further review of a play. It still will be the responsibility of the instant-replay official at the stadium to alert the officiating crew on the field to stop the game for a review.
Should the replay official at the stadium disagree with the three officials at the video center, the replay official ultimately will make the final determination of a play's outcome.
The league also announced last week that each SEC stadium this summer will receive technology upgrades that will support the collaborative instant-replay process. Instant-replay officials in the video center will have every available angle that the replay official has within the stadium.
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