Sun Belt Conference huddles with XOS for instant replay

College football conferences are gearing up for instant replay next year. After experimenting with instant replay technology in 2005, the NCAA’s Sun Belt Conference will use instant replay technology from XOS Technologies for all conference and non-conference games in 2006.

The XOS Replay system, which is based on DVR technology, will record five camera feeds and provide replay content for all the games. An important step taken by the conference is that non-televised games will also have replays.

This was a very important decision to make, says Todd Stewart, associate commissioner for the Sun Belt Conference. Instant replay is here to stay and our decision to go with XOS Technologies was based on an existing relationship where they oversee our Web site and they also provided a system on an experimental basis last year.

Stewart says systems will be put in place this summer at the conference s 8 schools, with XOS also handling the fiber, camera and monitor installation. Bryan Bedford, XOS Technologies national facility sales manager, says the ability to handle all aspects of the installation gives XOS a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The Sun Belt Conference will install instant replay booths in each of its school s press boxes with referees reviewing every play. Two monitors will be used: one displaying a mosaic of all the cameras and another used for full-screen replays.

Requiring the coach to throw a flag is just one more thing they have to think about and there isn t enough time to make that decision in college football, says Stewart. By having it done in a replay booth there is more uniformity in the decision making and we think it s the better way to do things.

The decision also requires some additional technical work at the stadiums. Unlike other larger conferences, like the Pac 10 or Big 12, only about 20% of Sun Belt Conference games make it to television.

Because of those differences you need to work with each conference and fit their individual needs, says Bedford. We worked with the commissioner of the conference and his staff to solve any problems.

Each school will have five cameras installed for the system. Three of the cameras, one mounted high above the field parallel to the 50-yard line and two located in each end zone, will be operated by the school s video coordinators and staff. The other two cameras will be installed at each goal line. The heart of the XOS system is the MPEG-2 digital video recorder and accompanying controller developed by XOS specifically for the purpose of reviewing game plays during a live event. This system includes a wired user interface that is based on a remote and allows the replay technician to control all system functions, including marking the start of plays, camera review selection, all playback control functions and to page the on-field officials. A DVD recorder will also be provided to record all activity on the replay monitor, allowing for archiving and later evaluation of all reviewed plays for each game.

Bedford says a TiVo and DVD players will be on hand as redundant backup. Right now we have a pretty broad product offering, says Bedford. And the key is to adapt the system for each school because all of them will be different. The Sun Belt Conference, teams include the University of North Texas, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Arkansas State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and Troy University. It s the third NCAA Division I-A conference to adopt XOS Replay. The Big 12 Conference and Pacific-10 (Pac-10) Conference both utilized the system during the 2005 college football season and will do so again in 2006.