DALLAS -- The Big 12 will add an eighth official to the field this fall, an experiment intended to alleviate pressure on the umpire in the most up-tempo league in the country.
The official will be in the backfield on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage and will be responsible for spotting the ball.
"This is really in response to pace of play as much as anything," said commissioner Bob Bowlsby at Big 12 media days. "We experimented with it during the spring. We've even experimented using an eighth official with a helmet cam to see what the vantage point is and how it might be helpful."
Who will it help? TCU coach Gary Patterson expects it will help his defense and voted for it.
"They can't play any faster. You're going to get better eyes on [it to] make sure we're all getting lined up," said Patterson. "If you're lined up and moving and the chains haven't even got set and they're still backing out of underneath the snap and the ball's being snapped, it's really hard for them to do their job. So, for me, I think it's a welcome addition."
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder also was in favor of adding an eighth official, but is not so sure it will have the intended effect.
"I was hoping for and recommending that in that they would help in one facet of the game, that was with the fast-pace offenses," said Snyder.
"One of the things that's happening, wide receivers go 200 miles an hour and 85 yards downfield, [the quarterback] throws an incomplete pass, they step out of bounds, and four new guys come on, and your defensive backs are 80 yards from the line of scrimmage trying to get back and they're snapping the football.
"Officials sometimes didn't see the substitution. ... Now they're talking about give him other responsibilities. That scares me."
The Big 12 will try to combat sliding national attendance by showing in-game highlights during long TV timeouts to entertain fans and provide incentive to not stay at home.
"Our schools are 85 percent full. We've got many that experience hard sellouts every game," said Bowlsby. "But I think nationwide we're seeing student numbers declining. ... I think it will be one item that will keep people from staying home."
Chips in the shoulder
Bowlsby said the Big 12 will join the SEC and Pac-12 in launching an innovation that will embed a chip in the shoulder pad of each player.
It will allow the league, through a company called Sportvision, to track players, including their velocity and path.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.mobilehome - wvusports