The Southeastern Conference has approved collaborative replay to begin with the 2016 season. In other words, there will be referees watching all SEC games from a remote location with the power to stop the game and call penalties missed by the on-site crew.
Our goal is to continue to use the best-available resources to support correct outcomes when instant replay is used,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We believe the collaborative effort, which will involve additional officiating experts during replay reviews, will enhance the Conference’s football officiating program. I believe this update to the instant replay review process will better support football officiating in the SEC through the use of technology.
This is an important and positive step for our officiating program, and I look forward to implementing our plan to combine advanced technology with officiating expertise,” said Shaw. “Our successful test in the spring gave us the comfort level to move forward with execution of the plan for this fall. I look forward to communicating with my colleagues in other conferences to discuss best practices and the most effective use of collaborative replay.
What exactly does “collaborative replay” mean:
Instead of having one person in a booth make all of the decisions on replay in a particular game, those plays will instead be reviewed collectively by a number of officials in a command center. Those officials, including the one in the stadium, will look at the play together and come to a consensus on whether to overturn the call on the field.
Here are a few other changes coming to an officiating crew near you in 2016:
• This gets a little deep into the weeds, but replay officials are going to be given expanded powers when it comes to reviewing targeting calls. The phrase the NCAA is using is that replay officials can look at “all aspects of the targeting foul,” Shaw said. Bottom line: The officials will look beyond whether the penalized player used the crown of his helmet. Did the player launch himself, etc?
• I’m not totally comfortable with this idea, but replay officials will be given the power to call targeting fouls away from the ball that the officials on the field might have missed. Let’s say during a kickoff, a player on the receiving team cheap-shots a coverage-team guy with a head-to-head hit on the opposite side of the field from the ball. The replay official can stop the game and assess a foul. I’m concerned that this is a slippery slope. “But understand for this to happen it would have to be an egregious foul where the targeting was obvious,” Shaw said. “We’re not going to have the guy in the booth looking for ticky-tack fouls.”
• The rule on ineligible receivers downfield (no lineman can be more than 3 yards downfield on a pass) remains unchanged but, Shaw said, officials across the country will be told to more stringently enforce the rule this fall. I kind of thought that’s what they did last season.