College football is about to enter the TiVo era.
Several high-level conferences, including the Big 12, strongly are considering the use of instant replay to assist officials this fall during league games.
While the proposal is in its developing stages, it's likely to be implemented for the 2005 Big 12 season once the details are chiseled out this spring. The deadline for the conference to submit its plan to the NCAA Football Rules Committee is June 1.
The move could forever change the college football landscape.
"I am trying to educate myself on how it will work," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "But anything that would assist us and help us as a conference ... I'm all for it."
The Rules Committee has recommended instant replay in Division I-A football after the Big Ten was pleased after using it experimentally in 2004. In 57 Big Ten games last year, play was stopped in only 28. Nearly half the reviews overturned the original call.
The Big Ten's use of instant replay varied greatly from the NFL, the pioneer of the setup. The pros allow coaches to challenge certain rulings on the field by throwing a red flag, while the Big Ten had all challenges come straight from a replay advisor in the press box, with the coaches having no say.
The Big 12 is considering both.
"We're looking at options right now," Big 12 assistant commissioner Bob Burda said. "It could be a combination of the two, where we have an official monitoring the game coupled with coaches having the ability to make challenges."
But, unlike the NFL and Big Ten, the Big 12 doesn't have the luxury of having every game televised. Only four of KU's eight conference games were on TV through the Big 12, and two more were televised locally on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6. In all, a little more than half of the Big 12 games were televised, and alternatives would need to be set up if games weren't slated to be shown.
"We would need a minimum of four cameras for non-televised games," Burda said.
In all, Burda conservatively estimated the cost of replay in the Big 12 to be around $500,000. That would include two extra officials (a replay advisor and technical expert) and equipment, including extra cameras and possibly a TiVo-like digital video setup to allow for quick replaying.
Until the beginning of June, no clear-cut plan will be put into motion, but the idea has Mangino cautiously optimistic.
"At first blush, it looks like a good idea," Mangino said. "But I think it goes deeper than that. I'd hate to see the Big 12 or any conference invest the money to do this and after a couple of years decide we don't like it."
Based on what he's heard from athletic directors and coaches across the conference, Burda doesn't see that happening.
"They're in support," Burda said. "I think the philosophy is, 'Let's get it right.'"