The NCAA plans to study whether the on-field head official should be in charge of overturning calls via instant replay instead of a replay official in the press box.
The yearlong study was requested by Big East commissioner John Marinatto, whose league is in favor of following the NFL's style of replay reviews instead of the system currently in place in college. While each conference has its own set of rules regarding replay, every league leaves the decision on replay reversals to a technical adviser or official away from the field. The NFL puts the control in the referee's hands.
"Let's really take a hard look at whether it's better to have the person involved in the flow of the game, the person who made the call, the person who's on the field determine whether a play should or should not be overturned, versus a person that's in the booth upstairs," Marinatto said.
Replay officials overturned a key fumble call in last season's Cincinnati-West Virginia game, leading to a Bearcats touchdown. Cincinnati went on to win the game 24-21 en route to a perfect season and Big East title.
In December, Big East coaches and athletic directors voted to request an experimental rule for 2010 that would have given referees power over replay calls on the field during league games. They did so on the recommendation of Big East coordinator of officials Terry McAulay, who's also a respected NFL referee. The NCAA, however, turned down the request, Marinatto said.
So Marinatto instead presented his proposal to the 11 conference commissioners at last month's BCS meetings in Arizona. The commissioners voted 7-4 for the NCAA to study the idea. The study will be conducted by the NCAA's college football officiating arm. Marinatto hopes the study will lead to changes for the following season.
"I don't know how they'll specifically go about it, but at least we'll get all 11 conferences focused on the idea," he said. "Our people clearly think this is a better methodology than the one we currently employ."
Brian Bennett covers the Big East for ESPN.com.