Significant change in ACC replay system could be coming

The ACC took a big step toward centralizing its replay officiating system Wednesday. At the conference’s spring meetings, football coaches voted to recommend the establishment of a command center that would communicate with on-site replay officials to assist in their decisions.

“I think it could help,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.

Cutcliffe felt the bite of a replay mistake last fall, when the Blue Devils lost on a last-second kickoff return for a touchdown by Miami. The ACC later determined that a Hurricanes player knee was down before he lateraled to a teammate, which should have ended the play. The conference acknowledged that the replay system should have overturned the touchdown, costing Duke a win. The two replay-booth officials, as well as the on-field officiating crew, were suspended for two games.

The proposed system is similar to one that has been used by the NFL for the past two seasons. The proposal follows the ACC adding an assistant coordinator for football replay in January. The NCAA football rules committee voted in February to allow conferences to experiment for one year with a centralized system. The present rule requires replay calls to be made on-site in the replay booth.

“The NFL model is working and you’ve got better equipment and you’ve got more experience, more eyes,” Cutcliffe said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a drastic change, but if it gets one thing right, I think it’s critically important.”

The system recommended by the coaches could be made official Thursday. If the league’s athletic directors approve the recommendation, the decision will then go to the league’s faculty athletic representatives for a final vote.

“It doesn’t sound like it’s going to interrupt the flow of the game,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “How many lives are depending on that, how many careers, kids, what they can achieve. I think anytime you can get it right, that’s great.”