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Big Ten alters replay system for 2016 football season

A lot of changes have been made in recent months as college football awaits its return at the end of August. The NCAA continues to try and tweak their system to better improve the product and major conferences are taking the initiative as well. The SEC have already implemented a far more integrated replay system for their officials during games to assist in-game crews.

Now, according to ESPN, the Big Ten is implementing their own system as well.

The goal for this change will be to integrate the on-the-field crew and the replay officials in the stands to work more closely with a streamlined and more efficient process. While ESPN’s report does mention the prospect of a centralized review system, Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo cautioned in the report that:

Carollo worries, however, about what he calls “unintended consequences” of each league having one set of people in a conference headquarters handling all replays. Conspiracy theories could abound and transparency might be a problem. Carollo envisions a potential national replay center, where a set of unaffiliated NCAA officials review every Power 5 or perhaps all FBS games in one, secure location.

In the report, ESPN explains exactly how the new system alterations will be implemented:

Here’s how replay will work in all Big Ten games this season: when there is a review, the referee will be handed a computer tablet so he can watch the same replays that the officials in the booth are seeing. In previous years, the referee simply listened on a headset as the replay official decided whether to overturn a call or let it stand.

Big Ten referees have been instructed that they are to be in “listen mode, not talk mode” during the review, Carollo said, and they won’t have any control over the video they are seeing. But they can offer input if they think a rule is being misinterpreted or if the replay officials are missing something. The replay official always will have the final say on the decision, but involving the referee will allow the on-field crew chief to better explain those decisions to fans and to coaches on the sidelines.

“They’re kind of the last check, to make sure we don’t make a mistake up there,” Carollo said.

The tablets, which have been outfitted to prevent glare and withstand weather conditions, were tested behind the scenes at the past two Big Ten championship games and during some league spring games last month. League athletic directors approved the system, which is far more cost-effective than a central command center.

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