CARBONDALE -- Missouri Valley Football Conference schools could be mandated to use instant replay in as soon as the next two years, according to commissioner Patty Viverito.
Two schools, Northern Iowa and North Dakota State, plan to use instant replay in all their games after the league approved experimenting with the process for televised games this fall. Before this year, Valley Football teams could only use replay during games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents or in the playoffs.
"I think it's an expense that everybody anticipates taking on, eventually. I just think it happened a year ahead, or two years ahead of where we anticipated, in terms of the investment," Viverito said. "But, you don't have to buy the equipment. You can rent the equipment on a game-by-game basis, so, I think that's why a couple of the schools are looking to see, to do just a game or two with rented equipment and then determine if it makes sense for the investment."
Instant replay has been steadily growing at the Football Championship Subdivision level over the last four years. The MEAC used it in televised games through its package with ESPN networks in 2011. The Big South and SWAC experimented with it during televised games last season, and in May, the Southland Conference became the first FCS league to mandate it for all games beginning this fall.
Using instant replay generally requires four or five cameras at different viewing angles. The NCAA requires a three-person crew in a private area in the press box to review plays: the replay official, who makes the final decision; a technician, who deals with the video and equipment aspect; and a communicator.
Northern Iowa -- which is installing a new 3,000-square foot videoboard at the UNI-Dome and adding cameras to its internet streaming -- plans to use instant replay at all its home games, whether they are televised or not. Instead of renting the equipment at a cost of about $5,000 per game, the Panthers are buying it for about $25,000, Northern Iowa athletic director Troy Dannen said, for a number of reasons.
"No. 1, with the targeting rules, we had two kids thrown out of games for targeting last year. Obviously, if you have replay, you have a chance to go back at halftime and review those plays. There's some value in that piece of it, because it's a pretty significant penalty," he said. "Two, all of the playoff games have replay, and I'm on the football selection committee. I think it's awkward to do something for the first time in the postseason, so I think it's good to be familiar. And, thirdly, I think it's a credibility thing. We expect our football to have replay. Frankly, I think it creates a perception of being second class, that you're the highest class of football without replay.
"I just think it's become an expectation of our fans."
Every team in Valley Football will likely get to use it at least once this fall, Viverito said.
SIU expects to have replay available at five of its 12 games this year, athletic director Mario Moccia said. The league will televise two of the Salukis' conference games through its package, and SIU plays at North Dakota State on Oct. 11 and at Youngstown State on Oct. 18. The Penguins are expected to use instant replay at their home games.
The Salukis also expect to appear on the Big 10 Network when they play at Purdue on Sept. 20.
SIU already uses multiple cameras to stream its home football games over the internet through Saluki All-Access, but would require additional equipment to have the type of footage suitable for instant replay. The Salukis may end up buying that equipment next year.
"The league is very sensitive to the fact we're all working on a thin budget, a model that has a lot of subsidies from the various institutions," Moccia said. "But just like anything else, I think we'll try it out and see if everybody likes it. It'll be an interesting year to test it out and see how it goes. I have a feeling that once we get it, that we're not gonna want to go backwards."