SEC REVIEWING THE SITUATION
A recent gathering of eleven of the SEC's twelve head football coaches produced a general feeling that some form of instant replay, similar to that used in the Big Ten this past season, will be implemented in that league for the 2005 season. According to a report by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the conference's coaches were overwhelmingly in favor of a replay system.
The ultimate decision will be made by the SEC's athletic directors in March. Two of the league's AD's, Florida's Jeremy Foley and Mississippi State's Larry Templeton, agreed that the new replay technology should be put to use in an effort to make the game and its outcomes more fair.
If the vote passes and instant replay is used in the SEC next season, all conference games will then have to be televised, either by one of the usual networks or on a pay-per-view basis. The SEC says that it costs around $20,000 to produce a PPV broadcast, around half of which the league can recover thanks to fans' purchases of that broadcast. The other half will be at the expense of the SEC, which could amount well into six figures over the course of the season.
The Big Ten implemented the use of instant replay in college football in 2004, the first conference to take such an action. SEC officials say that their system, if used in 2005, would likely be similar to the Big Ten's but would also give more control to the official on the field who made the original call.
The SEC likely has become more concerned with the use of instant replay thanks to the success of the Big Ten's system as well as controversial calls in several SEC games this season. In 2004, the Big Ten reviewed 43 plays in 57 games, resulting in 21 total call reversals or modifications. Perhaps the biggest mishap came at the end of the Florida / Tennessee game in Knoxville this season. Though the controversial personal foul penalty called against the Volunteers would not be reviewable, a clock malfunction that took place in the final minute would have been correctable.
One of the major problems cited with the replay system is its cost. But with the significance many SEC games have on a national scale and the wealth of the conference, there is no reason that replay should not be instituted soon, not only in the SEC but also in the remaining BCS leagues around the country.
STELLAR SO FAR
Four teams are still unbeaten in college hoops this season. Duke is 11-0, Kansas 12-0, Boston College sits at 13-0, while Illinois, leading the way in the SCS.com Fab 15, is already 17-0 on the season.
So when will they lose? Good question. Here's a look at the toughest of their tests over the next few weeks:
(1) Illinois : The Illini visit in-state rival Northwestern this weekend and then host Iowa next Thursday. After a weekend off, Illinois will visit Wisconsin the following Tuesday. Expect the Illini to have a tough test at UW but to head into East Lansing on February 1 with an unblemished record.
(5) Kansas : KU survived a tough test at Iowa State Wednesday and is still battling the injury bug. The Jayhawks next tough outing is next Saturday when they head out of conference and visit Villanvoa. Home games with Texas and Missouri follow a week after. If they can handle the Horns, KU should head into February without a loss.
(11) Duke : The Blue Devils visit in-state rival NC State Thursday evening. The 'Pack has been struggling, and if Duke survives, a home game with Virginia is set for this Sunday. A road game at red-hot Miami will follow next Wednesday. Maryland visits the next week, but I expect Coach K's team to head into the new month without a loss.
(12) Boston College : The Eagles are the most surprising of the unbeatens. BC trips to West Virginia this weekend, though the Mountaineers are fading fast. Villanova visits campus next week, and then the Eagles will visit Providence the following Wednesday. A home game with Georgetown ends the month of January.
Though BC is the least likely to finish January without a loss, it would not be a surprise to see all four with unblemished records heading into February.
WEEKEND SPOTLIGHT LEAGUE
Starting this week, this column will spotlight a hoops conference that has a number of huge matchups over the coming weekend. So, to tip it off...
This week's spotlight league is the Big East. Several teams have a point to prove and will be tested this weekend.
Syracuse, ranked fourth in the latest SCS.com Fab 15, will visit Providence. The Orange picked up a huge win earlier this week at Notre Dame, while the Friars dropped a home contest to Villanova in overtime. PC will not be NCAA-bound if they cannot win home games in the conference. Saturday's game will be much tougher than the one earlier this week, but it would be a huge momentum shift for Ryan Gomes & Co. if they could pull out the victory.
Also on Saturday, Seton Hall takes a trip to Pittsburgh. The Pirates have dropped their first two league games, while Pitt has split their first two Big East contests. The Panthers have dropped two of their last three overall, and the one victory came by just three points over Rutgers. If Pitt has big plans for this season, now is the time to get back on track.
Villanova hosts Georgetown in a matchup of two teams that have been better than expected thus far on the season. The Hoyas are 2-1 in the league and have lost just four times this season. G'Town has already proven they can win on the road after knocking off the Panthers in Pittsburgh last week. A road victory over Providence has given 'Nova plenty of confidence heading into this weekend. The winner here really begins to make a name for himself.
The only unbeaten team remaining in the Big East, Boston College, holds down the twelve spot in the Fab 15 and pays a visit to West Virginia on Sunday. The Mountaineers were one of the hottest teams and on the verge of a Fab 15 ranking a couple weeks ago. Two losses have followed, and WVU has showed they still have a long way to go. This is a game the Eagles should win, but it is also a chance for West Virginia to get back on track before the season gets away from them.
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