COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Big Sky likely a year away from instant replay

PARK CITY, UTAH -- "The play is under review" is a phrase that appears a year away from reality for Big Sky Conference football fans. Karl Richins, the Big Sky's Coordinator of Football Officials, said Sunday at the league's kickoff event that hi...

Big Sky Conference
The Big Sky Conference unveiled its new logo on Monday.


PARK CITY, UTAH - “The play is under review” is a phrase that appears a year away from reality for Big Sky Conference football fans.

Karl Richins, the Big Sky’s Coordinator of Football Officials, said Sunday at the league’s kickoff event that his crews are beginning to prepare for instant replay in 2015.

“We as a conference have discussed it, and we’re very likely in that business next year,” Richins said. “That’s a huge undertaking for us. You don’t just start replay. We need replay officials and it’ll be a learning curve for us, too.”

The review will take place in the press box and be communicated onto the field via a headset to the referee.


Although there won’t be all-out instant replay in 2014, the Big Sky will take a baby step into replay as it concerns the “targeting” rule, which applies to a player making contact to the neck or head of his opponent.

If a targeting penalty - which is an automatic ejection for the offending player - is called in the first half of a game, officials will have the opportunity to watch video of the play in the locker room at halftime. If the officials determine the targeting foul is unwarranted, the previously ejected player can return to the field.

Taking care of the QB

Rules to protect the quarterback were also at the forefront in Park City.

Now, defensive players who make contact with a quarterback’s knees while in the passing posture will be flagged as roughing the passer.

“Even if the timing is fine, if he’s throwing the ball and contact is made to his knees, we can have a roughing the passer,” Richins said.

In another move to take better care of the quarterback, Richins said the league is monitoring the trend to have an eighth official on the field. Richins said this move is still one to two years away from a possibility.

“It would be extra eyes on the quarterback during passing plays,” Richins said. “Right now, we have one set of eyes and that’s the referee. With eight, you have two sets of eyes on the quarterback and it frees up the eyes of the line judge.


“Lots of FBS conferences are doing it. They’ve found some real good stats for quarterback protection out of it. We’re not jumping on board yet. We’ll let them iron out the bugs.”


Richins said the league is cracking down on jerseys. The color of the numbers on jerseys must be in contrast to the color of the jersey itself. “You can’t have yellow on white. The guys on the defensive side of the ball were complaining that their spotters in the stands couldn’t see the offensive package and they couldn’t get the right defensive personnel on the field,” he said.… Personal fouls will now be added on to the end of a play. Previously, an offensive team would have to decline a facemask, for example, to take a long pass play. “Most of the public probably thought this was already there. Now it is,” Richins said.… The league would like to better control the sideline. This isn’t a new rule, rather a re-emphasis of the gap between coaches and players and the actual sideline. “It’s to the point now where we can’t do our job. We’re running into players and coaches. This year we’re taking it back. There’ll be strict enforcement and, unfortunately, there’ll be fouls that carry 5 or 15 yards. But with proper education to coaches and players, we can get back that area,” Richins said…. Officials will now swap sidelines at halftime.


Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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