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Instant replay: How the ACC officials fared

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

When Doug Rhoads came into the ACC in 1977, there were five officials working on the field. There are now seven. There were eight teams. There are now 12. They played 10 games. There are now 12, plus the championship.

He assigns 10 people to every game. The "command center" in Greensboro, N.C., has double DVRs. Every game is watched, every play is scrutinized. An intern is at each station. They log every foul, well-officiated play, poorly officiated play, coaches' conduct, players' conduct, injuries -- everything. On one weekend last year, there were six games going on simultaneously.

On top of that, each coach sends Rhoads video clips over the Internet of plays they think are questionable. (This looks like a chop block; why wasn't it called?) He takes all of the ACC video, everything the coaches have sent him, and puts together a weekly training DVD for each of his officials. By 5 p.m. Tuesday night, he's got all of the plays from the previous week and put them on a Web site for the officials.

You think you'd survive an entire season?

Here's how ACC officials fared last year, and what the toughest plays are to call:

  • Last year there were 171 stoppages. That means in all of the ACC games, there were 171 times the game was stopped for a replay.

  • Of those, 36 plays were reversed (21 percent). The others were either confirmed, meaning there was video evidence the official was right, or the play stood as called because there was no video evidence to overturn the call.

  • The average length of time a game was stopped for review was 1:39 -- shorter than a TV timeout and below the national average of 1:46.

  • Out of all the stoppages, 40 percent (69 plays) were to figure out whether a catch was complete or incomplete, including on interceptions.

  • There were 18 out-of-bounds plays, which means over half of the plays reviewed were to determine whether the ball was inbounds and whether it was caught. Those are the toughest plays to call in football.

"I don't think officiating has gotten better, gotten worse," Rhoads said. "I think it improves because it's adult learning. These are adults and even though it's a hobby or an avocation, it's still a profession and you improve because of the technology.

"Back when I was there, it might have been the coach's film, which was terrible. We'd all be in this room, looking at a projector with a play from 100 miles away, saying, 'it looks like holding to me.'"

"In the end, replay is good. Like all officials, people were a little tentative when it first started, wondering how could somebody sitting in the TV booth up above officiate? Well, they're not officiating. That's not their role, to officiate. Their role is to reverse errors that give you indisputable video evidence. If you discuss it that way, then replay steps in and frankly does a good job. Realize we've had football for 125 years, and replay for three. Everyone is kind of feeling their way through replay. What does it mean and how does it work? It's a great concept."

Check back later for new plays that will be reviewed this season.