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Officials to utilize instant replay in league

Something with experience in many bigger venues will be rocking Wallace Wade this fall. That’s right, you guessed it: instant replay.

Joining nearly every major conference this year, the ACC will install a form of instant replay for use this season.

“We feel that this system will benefit officiating in college football,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in April, when the conference announced it would use replay. “All of us want a correct ruling on the field, and we believe that implementing this system will enhance the quality of officiating.”

Unlike the NFL system, where coaches have the ability to challenge, all of Duke’s ACC replays will be controlled by a technical advisor in a newly-constructed, $50,000 audio-visual booth at Wallace Wade. In addition, every ACC school will employ a communicator, who will be the liaison between the on-field officials and the booth during the game, and a replay technician, whose job it will be to facilitate the replays himself.

The technician can call for a review on any play involving out-of-bounds lines, end-zone lines or a score. The communicator will then buzz the referee and four other on-field officials and the side judge and referee will watch the replay on the sideline.

Though the system seems cumbersome, ACC officials do not believe that instant replay will interfere with the length of the game. During a 50-play scrimmage in Wallace Wade, no call was considered questionable enough to warrant a replay.

“The officiating will not be done in the press box,” ACC supervisor of officials Tommy Hunt told the Associated Press.

Hunt and his staff spent the off-season reviewing last year’s tapes and determined that if replay had been in use in 2004, each game would have been halted an average of two times.

The Big Ten was the only conference in 2004 to implement instant replay, and only 28 of 57 games were paused. A total of 43 plays were reviewed, resulting in 21 calls overturned. On average, the stopped games lasted three minutes longer than uninterrupted ones. This statistic should appease the main concern of Duke head coach Ted Roof.

“Anything that can help the game, I’m for, provided that it does not make the game significantly longer,” Roof said.

In addition to the direct effects of the game, Hunt also spoke of a secondary positive effect of the new system. With tape of every play from several angles, it will be easier to record controversial calls and grade ACC officials, he said. This extra feature should theoretically lead to improvement by officials in all aspects, beyond simply correcting calls mid-game.

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