Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten and the Mid-American Conference will combine their instant replay systems for the 2008 season, further strengthening the bond between the two leagues and providing another hint that nationalization of college football officiating could be on the way. The Big Ten will oversee the program this season, with coordinator of officials Dave Parry working alongside Carl Paganelli, the MAC's coordinator of officials from 1997-2007. Paganelli will facilitate the transition for new MAC coordinator of officials Rich Fetchiet.
"We strongly believe that this marks the next natural step in regionalizing another of the important functions of college football officiating, with a goal towards further increased consistency and professionalism," MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said in a statement. "For several years, the Big Ten and MAC have been collaborating in those areas that make sense; particularly in regard to combined clinics and preseason training and development. As the importance of the instant replay function continues to grow, this broader approach should help increase performance from all those involved."
Parry mentioned last week at Big Ten media days that a merger with the MAC was on the way, so this is no surprise. The two leagues have combined on several initiatives, including scheduling. The Big Ten initiated the use of instant replay, and the MAC was quick to come on board. Expect to see more of these mergers between conference officials in the future.
Here's a list of games involving Big Ten and MAC teams this fall:
Aug. 30: Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Akron at Wisconsin
Sept. 6: Miami (Ohio) at Michigan, Eastern Michigan at Michigan State, Ohio at Ohio State
Sept. 20: Ball State at Indiana, Central Michigan at Purdue, Ohio at Northwestern, Temple at Penn State
Oct. 11: Toledo at Michigan
Nov. 1: Central Michigan at Indiana
Nov. 8: Western Michigan vs. Illinois (in Detroit)