Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, provides insights about rules changes and the mindset of college football referees. The CFO is the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level.

Since its inception in 2005, Instant Replay (IR) has become an important part of the game in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Now that almost every game at the FBS level is on television, the use of IR has grown – its reach has expanded each year. A number of conferences at the FCS level are also gradually introducing it. And in the playoff games for Divisions II and III as well as FCS, IR is being used routinely.

Because Instant Replay has become such a familiar part of the football landscape, it is sometimes hard to realize that this innovation is still in its infancy. Its history goes back to 2004 when the Big Ten Conference received permission from the NCAA Football Rules Committee for a one-year experiment with the process. The next year the Rules Committee wrote IR into the playing rules (as Rule 12) as an option for all NCAA member institutions.

The purpose of IR is to use television-recording technology to review plays and correct certain obvious officiating mistakes. The idea is not to make the game perfect but to review officiating rulings that might have a competitive impact on the game. Typically, this involves such plays as whether a pass receiver caught or trapped a pass, whether a runner was down before fumbling the ball or whether a runner scores on a close play at the goal line. With very few exceptions, rulings on fouls are not subject to review.

In next week’s Chalktalk we will look at how the Instant Replay process works and how the IR officials are trained.