NEWPORT, R.I. - Coaches from around the country have spent the offseason praising nearly every major conference for choosing to add instant replay for the upcoming season. The Big East's eight head coaches followed suit on Tuesday.
Most made it known they were big supporters of the new feature, which will be used in every conference game, during Big East media day - a first for new members Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida. Connecticut's Randy Edsall was one of the most vocal of the group.
"I love (instant replay) and I'm a big advocate of it," said Edsall, who signed a 6-year contract extension at the start of last season. "This doesn't mean we don't trust the officials either. There is human error in every profession, especially in one with so much pressure. It also doesn't slow down the game much and I would rather slow it down and get a call right. If an outcome of a game is decided on an incorrect call that would be more unfortunate."
Pittsburgh's new coach Dave Wannstedt made it clear he wanted instant replay as well. But unlike Edsall, the former Miami Dolphins head man would prefer the conference to utilize the NFL rules where head coaches must throw a red flag to have specific plays reviewed (if the play is not overturned their team is charged with a timeout). The Big East and most major conferences chose to have a single official watch every play and decide which ones are worth taking a second look at. Certain plays are not reviewable under any circumstance.
"I'm all for instant replay and I really like the technology we are using," Wannstedt said. "I do like being able to use the flag too. It's a lot of responsibility for one guy up there in the press box to watch all those plays."
The Big East's instant replay system was put to the test during Rutgers spring game and midway through the first quarter it made a difference. Senior Will Gilkison appeared to tackle a ball carrier in his own end zone but the ball was placed at the one-inch line. After reviewing the play, it was changed to a safety.
BACK-UP BLUES: Keeping Pittsburgh's returning starting quarterback Tyler Palko healthy is becoming a big premium for Wannstedt and his staff. Sophomore Joe Flacco, who saw mop-up duty as Palko's back-up last season, asked for a transfer months ago and despite the coaching staff's efforts to make him feel wanted it looks doubtful he will remain a Panther. Flacco's name is absent from the roster in the media guide and there is talk of him landing at Division I-AA Delaware. "Joe requested to leave and that was denied," Wannstedt said. "I'm not sure whether he will back out or not. (Offensive coordinator) Matt Cavanugh and I flew up to his home in May to talk with him and his father. It's all about playing time." Since Luke Getsy transferred to Akron last year, the Panthers may have to move incoming freshman Bill Stull into the back-up role immediately when practice beings.
NEW DIGS: The Burton Football Complex is scheduled to open on UConn's campus next summer and Edsall expects the mulit-million dollar building to rank among the top football facilities in the nation. "It has football offices, a training room, a locker room and an indoor facility, which I think will really help us," said Edsall, who wore his Motor City Bowl watch to the event. "Nobody else has anything better now."
MADE IN OHIO: South Florida isn't the only program in the Big East that relies heavily on in-state talent. Over 80 percent of Cincinnati's roster is made up of players from Ohio, including several from around the city, and that number may increase. Coach Mark Dantonio, an Ohio native, said he is heavily committed to recruiting the Buckeye State. "We can now recruit on a higher level than normal because of being in a BCS conference. We should really benefit now that we have a full year to go out and sell that we are in the Big East."
THE BIG FOUR: South Florida coach Jim Leavitt says with the Bulls moving into a BCS conference they are now part of the "Big Four" with Florida, Florida State and Miami. Don't laugh. Leavitt is quick to compare his rising program, which has only been at the Division I-A level for four seasons, to those three other in-state schools. "We had the second longest home winning streak in the nation at the start of last year and I don't think a lot of people even knew that," Leavitt pointed out. "If Miami doesn't convert that fourth-and-long and beat West Virginia two years ago all of the sudden we would have had the nation's longest-home winning streak."
FOLLOWING THE CARDINALS LEAD: Louisville coach Bobby Petrino and his staff are considered some of the best talent evaluators in college football, having discovered several low-profile recruits who developed into stars. That makes Cardinal recruits very popular with other schools these days. "When a recruit commits to us it seems other schools recruit him harder," Petrino said. "It gets out there on the internet quickly so you have to make sure that commitment is firm or it can become a feeding frenzy of sorts."
LINE OF THE DAY: West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez produced a memorable quote when asked a question about recruiting: "There are two big motivators in college football - money and playing time - and we ain't paying 'em."