Sideline Technology? Moving on from CFB’s Luddite Past

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Sideline Technology? Moving on from CFB’s Luddite Past

CFB play cards

NCAA has been Ned Ludd to the NFL’s Star Wars in adopting sideline technology, but that may be changing in the near future. As you may know, college football teams are prohibited from using electronic devices on the sidelines or in locker rooms. The NFL, on the other hand, now allows organizations to use tablets as coaching tools during games.
[su_quote style=”modern-light” cite=”” url=””] “It’s inevitable that somewhere down the line we will move to allow technology, even on the sideline,” said Steve Shaw, the SEC’s director of officials. “It’s inevitable. It’s part of everything we do now, but whether it is ready now, I just don’t know.”
The NFL used a standardized system for all its teams and marketed the project to Microsoft to the tune of $400 million. However, the League still does not allow video on the system. Teams are restricted to photos when reviewing previous plays with various units. A restriction that to some degree negates the value of the scheme.
[su_quote style=”modern-light” cite=”” url=””] The NFL, however, is already discussing whether to move two steps ahead of the NCAA soon by introducing full video on tablets on the sidelines for players and coaches to review in real time. The league tested the technology at the Pro Bowl in February.
“Traditionally the (NFL competition) committee has been opposed to video on the sideline, but from a competitive standpoint, to make sure nobody is getting advantage of another club, then I think that’s the way the sideline of the future is going,” said Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher, former head of the NFL competition committee.
NCAA, true to its ongoing concerns about teams participating on a level playing field, feared that some teams would not be able to afford the technology and that some teams could develop more sophisticated software applications than others. This concern seems to be exactly the type of problem that Power 5 autonomy was instituted to solve. Require every school to provide the same wireless platform for visitors that the home team uses, then set teams free to sell sponsorships and develop software as they see fit. Capitalism works, even when the competitors are quasi-governmental institutions.
While we are freeing college football from the yoke of the 20th Century, let’s also drop the silly insistence that coaches be barred from having voice communication with the quarterback and the defensive captain during games. Is anything more ridiculous than watching 11 offensive players rise from their stance and look to the sideline to get a play via hand signal (or modern semaphore, the photo play card)? Come on NCAA, plays are already being signaled to both sides of the ball, let’s drop the pretense and use available technology.
Ned is dead.

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.