Standard replay system likely in college football

DALLAS -- Upon further review, college football is likely to get one set of rules for instant replay instead of the conference-by-conference formats that led to confusion, frustration and mistakes during the bowl season.

Tweaking how and when to use replay was the most talked about topic Wednesday at the annual meeting of Division I-A football coaches. Officials with the American Football Coaches Association settled it for now by deciding to poll all 119 coaches next month to get a better grasp on what everyone thinks would be best.

"What will come out of this is there will be uniform rules set," AFCA executive director Grant Teaff said. "What'll most likely happen is that they'll put in a rule: Here's the standard. You either accept it or you don't accept it. And I think nationally they'll accept it."

Teaff said he expects it all to be resolved in time for the upcoming season.

In addition to replay, the AFCA will ask coaches their thoughts on creating a preseason that could include a scrimmage, a controlled practice or an exhibition game, eliminating Friday games, adopting the same play clock the NFL uses (40 seconds between plays, 25 after officials stop the clock) and having an early signing day for incoming players.

The 3½-hour meeting Wednesday also included an unusually brief discussion of the Bowl Championship Series. The coaches agreed to let the BCS use their poll for the next four years -- instead of one year at a time, as they'd been doing -- and hardly had any recommendations to change the BCS format.

"I think this was the first year in which there was absolutely no question asked about where we're at or how it's working," said Kevin Weiberg, the outgoing BCS leader and Big 12 commissioner.

Replay came to college football two season ago in the Big Ten. It went over so well that nine of the 11 Division I-A conferences had it this past season. While most leagues stuck with the Big Ten format, others had their own wrinkles; the Mountain West was the only one that borrowed the coach's challenge model from the NFL.

Problems came in interconference games or games with independent schools. In those cases, the visitor chose whether to have replay. Southern California opted to go without it for its game against Notre Dame and then won on the final play when Reggie Bush illegally shoved Matt Leinart over the goal line.

More problems came up in the bowls.

The Alamo Bowl had several questionable calls and then ended with Nebraska players running onto the field during a wacky kickoff return by Michigan because the Cornhuskers' bench erroneously thought the play was dead. In the Rose Bowl, Texas' Vince Young pitched the ball for what turned into a touchdown after his knee likely hit the ground.

"What everyone had to remember was this was an experimental year," Teaff said. "They allowed the conferences to sort of mix their own bowl of soup."

Teaff said a coach's challenge or other modifications are possible for the uniform system.

"Basically, all we want is for the kids to win the game; we don't want the officials to lose the game," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "And the officials don't want to lose the game. We put them in positions sometimes where it's impossible now for them to be on top of every play."