For Colorado State wide receiver David Anderson, instant replay might have come to the Mountain West and Big 12 conferences a year too late. Late in last season’s Rocky Mountain Classic, with the Rams trailing the University of Colorado by three points, Anderson caught a pass from Justin Holland and was tackled near the goal line. Did he get into the end zone? Officials ruled he didn’t and marked the ball at the 1-yard line. Two failed running plays later, the game was over. “They might have instant replayed that last catch,” Anderson said after a practice this week. “I might have gotten a touchdown. You never know.” The Big 12 and Mountain West conferences hope to eliminate that kind of second-guessing by implementing instant replay on an experimental basis this season. The Big Ten became the first conference to try instant replay last season, and this year, all but two conferences — the Sun Belt and the Western Athletic — will use an instant replay system. “I’m for it; I think it’s going to be good,” Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. “It’s not going to be the answer to everything, but it will clean up a couple things.” Last season, the Big Ten used instant replay in 28 of 57 games, and 21 of 43 disputed calls were overturned. Games were, on average, three minutes longer. The systems used by the Big 12 and Mountain West conferences will be similar to the Big Ten’s, with a replay official in a secured booth in the press box stopping the game at his discretion to review plays. But the Mountain West Conference adds the option for coaches to challenge plays — making it the only conference with such a provision. Visiting teams from different conferences will have the option of using the replay system of the home team’s conference. Saturday’s game will utilize the Big 12’s system. Because of the active role coaches in the Mountain West Conference can take in instant replay, some have practiced using challenges during in-game situations. Air Force coach Fisher De-Berry used last Saturday’s Blue-Silver scrimmage to practice challenging plays. One of his challenges was not upheld, costing him a timeout — “and you always want to have (timeouts) at the end of a half,” he said. DeBerry said he would not necessarily be conservative in challenging plays, but he would be conservative taking timeouts early in games. New Mexico coach Rocky Long, meanwhile, said his team was unable to practice using instant replay during its preseason scrimmage, but that coaches have “talked for hours” about how to use the challenges. “Our opinion is I’m not sure we’ll use it,” he said. “You’re just guessing. . . . We might use it in one we really think is important, but we’ll count on the officials in the box to do it the right way.” Mountain West coaches are prohibited from getting advice about whether to challenge from anyone with access to replay. Advice from players, however, is always available. “Every time they think they make (the catch) and every time they think they’re in bounds, that’s the problem with that,” Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. “I’ll have to be cautious with that.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or email@example.com Dan Wolken contributed to this report REPLAY RULES BIG 12 Plays will be reviewed based solely upon the discretion of a replay official, who will be in a secured booth in the press box, along with an alternate game official and technician. The replay official will have from the end of a play until the ball is snapped to start the next play to determine if a play is reviewable. If the replay official decides to review a play, he will “buzz” the game officials, who will be equipped with pagers, to inform them the play is under review. The replay official, alternate game official and on-field referee — who will have access to video equipment on the sideline and audio communication with the replay booth — will review the play in question, and the replay official will determine if there is indisputable video evidence to overturn the call. MOUNTAIN WEST Plays can be reviewed if deemed necessary by the replay official, who will be in a secured booth in the press box along with a replay assistant and a video technician. But coaches also can call for a play to be challenged. Each coach will have a red flag that he can throw onto the field to stop play and request a challenge. Coaches are entitled to a maximum of two challenges per half and can make a second challenge only if their first is upheld. Coaches cannot challenge a play unless they have a timeout remaining, and challenges that are not upheld will cost teams a timeout. The final decision on whether plays will be overturned belongs to the replay official. REVIEWABLE PLAYS What plays can and cannot be reviewed have been strictly defined by the NCAA Football Rules Committee. Reviewable plays include those with questions regarding boundaries (sidelines, goal lines, etc.); whether a ball was caught, thrown or fumbled; and whether a player was down by contact. Plays also can be reviewed to determine if a ball was touched, how many players were on the field and whether the game or play clocks were operated correctly. Many judgment calls cannot be reviewed, including holding, offsides, pass interference, personal fouls, illegal blocks and formations, face masks, false starts, roughing the passer or kicker and fighting. NEXT Colorado State at Colorado, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, TBS, 850 AM
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