The NFL has embraced the latest technology, but college football hasn’t.
While the NFL, which enters the third of a five-year sponsorship deal with Microsoft worth a reported $400 million that equips all 32 teams with Surface Pro tablets on the sideline and in the coaches’ box, will allow the use of video replay on the sideline during the preseason this year and Major League Baseball has a multi-year deal for the use of iPads in dugouts, the NCAA has been sorely behind when it comes to in-game technology.
High school football teams have embraced the latest technology, but college football hasn’t.
“I see high school teams in the state of Georgia that are replaying the previous series with their offensive line, with their backs, with their quarterback, on the sideline,” Muschamp said. “Certainly I think that’s something that would be beneficial for us. … To be able see a picture of a formation, and to be able to see a receiver split, to be able to see the split of an offensive tackle, all of those things are really critical to be able to do.
“Everything in pictures that you can draw up and be able to show a player that, it’s a much easier learning curve for a player as opposed to drawing it on a blackboard.”
Instead, welcome to the land of half-assed.
In February, the NCAA Football Rules Committee approved a proposal to allow electronic devices to be used for coaching purposes in the press box and locker room, but not on the sideline like in the NFL, during games beginning this fall. That proposal was approved a month later by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which in April, chose to delay implementation until 2017 after feedback from conference commissioners as to guidelines for consistency, cost and other issues.
“I think that’s part of the reason that the brakes were applied,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said earlier this month. “To say, ‘Let’s figure out exactly what might be implemented and how it can be implemented on an appropriately consistent basis.'”
All I can figure is that Sankey’s waiting for Microsoft to step up and offer him one of those sweet, sweet sponsorship deals. In the meantime, enjoy the comedic stylings of SEC coaching.
Until some of the details are worked out, coaches are already searching for loopholes in how to maximize whatever technology ends up being implemented.
“I think that’s going to be one of those conversations that’s talked about the next couple of years,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said, “with the technology and where it’s going and what is going to be the plan moving forward in college football.”
As of now, a designated staffer or player could be in the locker room watching film and come to the sideline to relay information throughout a game. A quarterback could go to the locker room and watch film of the previous drive.
Bielema took that idea a step further.
“If we scored a touchdown our offensive unit could kind of just run into the locker room and grab a drink of water and maybe stay in there and watch a half a dozen plays, come back on the field before they’d be missed, which would be a huge, huge advantage,” Bielema said. “It’s the locker room. They just went in to use the facilities.
“I mean that’s the part of the SEC that I’ve begun to know. You’re going to take everything that you’ve given and kind of expand it a little bit.”