WIAA To Use Instant Replay For State Football Tournament

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Over the course of the seven games, there is a chance we’ll hear something we've never heard from a referee at a high school game in the state.
“The play is under review.”
The WIAA's instant replay review system debuts this year, charged with taking a closer look at all scoring plays and turnovers but also giving the replay official the discretion to correct any other egregious errors.
The idea came from the WIAA football coaches advisory committee and was approved for the state championship games by the Board of Control in January, pending approval of the National Federation of High School Associations. The NFHSA adopted replay in February.

The WIAA will spend about $6,000 to run the program this year, a cost that covers the use of the replay equipment and the hiring of a replay crew.
Eight other states use replay for its championship or playoff games: Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey and South Dakota.
“If it’s a game-deciding play, it’s important that we have it,” said WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki, who oversees football for the organization. “There are games that have come down to one or two plays and that’s why (with) a turnover or scoring play, it’s important that we be able to evaluate it. They could have a direct impact on the outcome of a game.”
How it will work

A three-person replay crew will work each game. One member will be on the sideline to signal to game officials when a play is under review. Two members will be in the booth. One will review plays with the help of equipment and monitors that provide access to the multiple camera angles from television coverage. The second will communicate the outcome of the review to the referee on the field.

After getting word from the booth, the referee will make one of three announcements:
1. The ruling on the field is confirmed if video evidence confirms the play.
2. The ruling on the field stands, if there is no indisputable evidence to reverse the on-field ruling.
3. The ruling is reversed, followed by a brief description of the video evidence and the impact of the ruling.
All reviews will be initiated by the replay official in the booth. Coaches will not be able to challenge calls. The maximum time limit for a review is 2 minutes.
The replay official will be tasked with reviewing plays that were ruled scores or turnovers on the field as well as plays that weren’t initially called scores or turnovers but could have video evidence that shows they actually were.
In addition, the official will have the latitude to make other rulings that would prevent obvious errors. Thus, every play will be looked at, though the majority aren't expected to escalate to a review and interrupt the flow of the game.
A number of factors will be weighed
When deciding to overturn or uphold a turnover or score, the replay official will be able to review a number of factors.
“Let’s say you’re down on the 2-yard line and the fullback gets the ball and he jumps in the air and the referees mark it and spot it and say he didn’t get in — they’re going to review that play, and if they have concrete evidence that the ball crossed the plane, they will stop the game and say that is a scoring play,” Labecki said. “You could see that. They won’t be seeing if it was a catch or not or if a foot was in bounds or not (and) they won’t see if there’s linemen down field unless it’s a scoring play or turnover play.”
To overturn a call, the replay official must be, according to WIAA guidelines, “convinced beyond all doubt by indisputable video evidence” through one or more replays provided to the monitor.

Otherwise the parameters of what elements of plays will be considered when overturning a play are vague. That could change in coming years, though.
The WIAA will meet with the coaches in December to review the process and recommend any changes.
“We’ll get the feedback from the coaches and we’ll get the feedback from the officials on the field as well as the officials involved in the replay system,” Labecki said. “Then we’ll be able to bring that to the coaches in December, and we’ll be able to review that information to see if there are ways we can make it better.”
 
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