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Administrator Emeritus
Instint replay is coming ... Instant replay is coming! (by the numbers)
written by 3yardsandacloud (5/31/2004)

The goal of instant reply is to correct mistakes, much like the misspelling of "Instint/Instant" in my title. I'm a traditionalist at heart, so I'm not really sold on the need for instant replay. I like that football (and sports in general) is littered with blemishes, inaccuracies and controversy. Sports supposedly teaches lessons about life. Life isn't always fair. Life is about overcoming the setbacks and working hard to become better ... so is football. So why do we need instant replay? The image of coach Joe Paterno running after referees and the clock mismanagement at Michigan State jump to mind. But surely the Big Ten has more reason than that to implement instant replay ... or does it?

The Big Ten requested and received (from the NCAA Football Rules Committee) the right to experiment with instant replay for a one year trial basis (2004-05). This request was made to the NCAA by the Big Ten Conference, with the unanimous support of its head football coaches. Well, I'm about to choke on that last statement from the Big Ten. Unanimous? I'll just accept that as fact for now, but why does the Big Ten think it needs instant replay. The answer seems to be contained in this paragraph:

But in an era with so many games televised-The Big Ten Conference has had 90 percent or more of its intraconference games televised each of the last five seasons-and with mistakes and missed calls put under the microscope and scrutinized and replayed multiple times, there is now more incentive than ever to get the call right.* If a television replay shows indisputable evidence that an official's call (or non-call) was in error, then there should be a mechanism in place to immediately correct the error.

I'm a traditionalist, but if the Big Ten officials are getting that many calls wrong I'm all for instant replay. Let's look at the numbers they used to determine if instant replay was needed or not.

The Numbers:
The request to use instant replay was forwarded after the Big Ten reviewed all the data collected from the 68 televised games from the 2003 season. If the results are to be believed, in 2003 only 42 plays would have been reviewed (not changed ... reviewed)! That's 2/3rds of one play per game. Something doesn't sound right here. Do you believe that out of 10,800 total plays, only 42 would be reviewed? Further, of the 42 plays only 23 would have been overturned. That's about 1/3rd of one call per game. Seems to be an awful lot of cost and labor involved to correct 1/3 of one call per game. The only justification I can find that seems to warrant this type of undertaking is this specific line from the Big Ten "On a base of 10,800 plays, there were arguably 12 plays that were possible game impact calls that could have been corrected if a replay system was in place".

Well, that would seem like an important thing to correct. Twelve calls that could have changed the outcome of a game and could have been corrected (there is no guarantee that replay will fix these calls as you will see later). The staggering implication to me is that of the 42 plays that would have been reviewed, almost 30% of those could have changed the outcome of a game. Even more shocking is that of the 23 plays (out of 10,800) that would have been overturned by instant replay, almost 50% would have been game changing! Now the BigTen doesn't specify where the 12 game changing calls occured. All 12 could have been in 1 (of the 68) game, or in 12 different games. This makes it difficult to determine how many games are actually affected, but let's take the worst case scenario. Twelve games are in doubt out of 68, that's roughly 18%!

I must confess, I don't know what to believe. Are the Big Ten officials so good that only 1/5th of one percent of all calls would be overturned. Or are the Big Ten officials so bad that 18% of all games are probably won by the wrong team because of an officiating error?

That's where we stand. The numbers seem to indicate two different scenarios, but they are leading us to instant replay in the Big Ten. I'm OK with that if it in fact helps to correct mistakes. Especially game altering mistakes. But you best get ready informed football fans. You will be distracted time and again this coming season with questions from those less informed. Here's a short list of what you'll be hearing. "Why is that play being reviewed?" "Why isn't that play being reviewed?" "Where's the red flag?" "Who's reviewing this play?" "That call was clearly wrong, The replay shows it. Why wasn't it overturned?" If you think the numbers lead to confusing results, wait till you see how instant replay will be implimented.

Check out my following blog for that information. I'd love to hear your thoughts on instant replay ... do you want it or not? Please respond here: Instant Replay Thread

Related links:


The satanic soulless freight train that is Ohio St
Staff member
Tech Admin
  • Even out of 10,000 plays during a season, all it takes is one blown call to ruin a season. There's no reason why we should not implement a controlled instant replay system given the technology at our disposal. Give each team 3 reviews a game with a max of 2 in either half (can't blow them all in the first half and can't bank them all for the second). Also, I don't believe in punishing a team for challenging a call and being wrong, at least with the first challenge. The first challenge a team uses in the game should be a freebie, that is no loss of timeout if the call isn't reversed. However, any subsequent challenge(s) will face a loss of timeout if wrong...this will at least keep the challenges somewhat controlled and prevent both teams from wantonly using challenges for calls that aren't really questionable, especially near game's end.

    All in all, I'm glad the Big Ten has stepped to give this a try. I think it'll work out just fine.
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    Administrator Emeritus
    I don't really disagree Mili. You are correct that 1 bad call could blow a whole season. As for the rest ... well stay tuned for tomorrows blog. There will be no challenges by coaches. Not 3, not 2, not any. Only one person is allowed to question a call. A technical advisor in the press box get the sole responsibility. He will watch the same TV feed that everyone else gets to see and bases his decision on that view. If the next play has been snapped before TV runs other views of the play ... to late.
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    Staff member
    I hated in the pros and I hate it now. The officials are humans, they are gonna make mistakes, it's part of the game. Instant replay takes so much emotion from the game. Imagine having to sit through the Gamble Fiesta Bowl interference call 1000 times, it would've taken so much raw emotion from the moment that it would've ruined it(yes yes I know penalties aren't reviewable, BUT you get my point).
    Upvote 0


    Buckeye Planet Old Fart
    I've always liked the replays. I think it has made the pro game better.

    My only concern is that it would furthur drag out what has evolved into one hell of a long game. I'm sure they will drop two or three TV time outs to make up for the time lost on replays. Har har har.

    I would think the Big ten would be responsible for the extra cost not the universities.
    Upvote 0