Monday, September 29, 2008

Technology and Football

Friday's New York Times online ran an article titled "N.C.A.A. Is Slower to Embrace Technology" about two of my favorite subjects; technology and college football. The gist of the story is that, since the NCAA prohibits computers and television monitors in the coaches' box during games, coaches are at a disadvantage. They can't watch replays or plan strategies by examining their data on the other team's tendencies.

The technology ban is driven partly by the idea that the game should be decided by players on the field. I support this...kind of. For a long time I was opposed to officials using instant replay during a game. While it was interesting for fans to watch the replays on TV and the Jumbotron, I felt it was an intrusion for officials to use it. Let the players play the game and the officials make the calls. If they made a mistake, that was the breaks. The game had been played without replay for decades and survived. Also, games were often delayed for several minutes while the officials deliberated. But I gradually changed my mind. If it makes the game fairer, I'll go for it. Also, there's now a time limit on how long the refs can mull things over.

The article features a photo of the Penn State coaching staff looking glum. This shot was taken during the Temple game when, because a leg injury, head coach Joe Paterno spent the second half in the box instead of pacing the sideline. As Heath Ledger said, "Why so serious?" The Lions won the game by a score of 45-3.

One final note: I almost reconsidered my take on replays last weekend during the PSU/Illinois game. An Illinois receiver snagged a pass at the edge of the end zone. Clearly out of bounds, IMHO. But replay reversed the call and Illinois took the lead. No worries. The Lions prevailed again.


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