NCF Nation: Tech 09
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The helmet cams didn't seem to work very well Thursday night at Boise State, but Oregon's use of them during preseason practices is one example of how college football teams are adopting innovative technology to advance their cause.
Oregon embraces all sorts of technology. Whether it's a locker room that features video game systems in each locker or film study with the XOS system or uniforms that are remarkable for their utility as well as their, well, oddness.
But the Ducks aren't alone.
UCLA and Arizona State are among the programs using two-way video conferencing (Skype).
The Bruins also use a virtual recruiting board, completely digitized recruiting film and phones equipped with video capability.
Oregon State isn't mailing out media guides anymore -- it's using a fancypants Web site to sell the program. Arizona State is also.
Of course, Pac-10 coaches are some of the best "Tweeters" -- see Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian has his own Web site. As does Carroll.
These are not things you could imagine Bear Bryant or Don James using.
But it's a different age, and those who do not embrace available new technologies might get left behind.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Kentucky’s Rich Brooks, whose first college head coaching assignment goes back to the days of bell-bottom jeans, remembers when finding out about a prospect wasn’t so easy.
“You were waiting on a high school coach to send you the film,” Brooks recalls.
So making a decision on whether a quarterback fit your offense or if a safety could bulk up enough to play linebacker in your defense wasn’t as simple as dialing up tape of that player on the Internet.
“Now, there’s tape available of virtually every prospect we’re recruiting,” Brooks said.
It’s immediate, too.
Coaches have files of prospects’ tape on their laptops. They can watch it in their office, watch it while they’re traveling on a plane or while they’re eating lunch.
They can pop it into their computers and compare one player to the next: Who breaks on the ball better? Who separates from the defender better? Who has the best footwork?
Brooks said the enhanced technology has made it easier to make decisions on players and to differentiate who’s on the A list and who’s on the B list.
“There’s usually more information out there than you need,” he said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
While struggling through searing conditions the last few weeks, member of the Texas Longhorns’ training staff were looking for an edge to help them team persevere through the constant heat.
Austin has sweltered through its hottest summer since the 1850s with 67 days with 100 degree or more high temperatures. In the middle of that, the Longhorns have conducted their training camp to prepare for the upcoming season that begins Saturday night against Louisiana-Monroe.
“It’s definitely hotter than I can remember it,” Texas athletic trainer Kenny Boyd said. “I don’t know if we haven’t seen hotter days, but just a lot more of them. And when that happens, you get concerned about the cumulative effect it has for players who are depleting themselves through the week and maybe setting themselves up for a muscle pull or a heat ailment.
"Then, you throw the consistent heat into the mix and it just makes it that much harder.”
Among other pieces of modern technology, the Longhorns are using a high-tech measuring device to help combat heat-related circumstances through a tiny ingestible pill.
The Longhorns measure the heat of between 12 and 24 Longhorns deemed by the training staff to be considered high-risk at every practice.
This chosen group take a pill that allows Boyd and the other Texas trainers to check their core body temperatures by pressing a button. The Longhorns trainers are then able to monitor the players' temperatures using hand-held devices. The trainers hold the device about six inches from the player and soon learn the player's core temperature because of the ingestible theromemeter.
Boyd said the silicone-coated CorTemp capsule – which is about the size of a vitamin and contains thermometers, a radio transmitter and a battery – is swallowed about five hours before practice begins.
During the time after the ingestion, the pill eventually is transported to the player’s intestines. While there, it provides a constant reading of the player’s temperature before the pill is passed naturally. Cost of the pill is about $35 apiece.
It’s not exactly a new invention and other NFL and college teams over the years have used it. It’s become more and more prevalent as teams try to avoid the heat-related incidents that led to the death of former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer, who died in 2001 of complications brought on by heat stroke.
Any time a player’s core temperature reaches 103 degrees, he is immediately pulled from the practice for rest.
“I don’t necessarily think we would know if they had reached that level without the capsule,” Boyd said. “Because in many cases it’s just something they push themselves through in a normal workout. Basically, what this does is gives us an early warning system that allows them to cool down before we send them back out.”
When a player’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, Boyd said they are removed from practice for the day. They typically are sent to an ice bath for immediate cooling after that diagnosis.
The Longhorns used air-cooled training shirts that are popular among players and have practiced inside in the school’s air-conditioned bubble more than in previous summers. The cumulative result has helped them avoid any heat-related incidents this summer.
Earlier, technology brought about cooling tents and cool capes. Those inventions were seen as natural evolutions from items like iced towels, electrolyte-laced sports beverages and squirt drinking bottles.
“We are in an age now where technology and sports medicine now work together to benefit athletes,” Boyd said. “These things are now more of a preventive tool than anything else. And it’s helping. But all of the tools and technology still can’t replace what an athletic trainer can do for a student-athlete once they get on the field.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
As they wait around in their hotel rooms Sunday night before the Labor Day showdown at Rutgers, Cincinnati's players will be fiddling around with video games.
But coach Brian Kelly can't accuse them of wasting time. In this instance, the Bearcats will actually be preparing for the next day's assignment.
Cincinnati is one of six schools in the country -- LSU, Oregon, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona are the others -- to use the Thunder PlayAction Simulator from XOS Technologies. The program takes the EA Sports gameplay familiar to anyone who has spent time on the Madden or NCAA Football games and uses it to incorporate teaching methods. Coaches will draw the team's actual plays and opponents' coverages on the game, and the players can then simulate the action on the field.
Cincinnati bought the software over the summer and put it into full use this week, said John Sells, the team's video coordinator. Players are expected to use it this weekend in the team hotel.
"It's pretty cool," quarterback Tony Pike said. "You can program a blitz into the gaming system and make a read off it. And after you make a throw, it tells you if you made the right read or not."
Sells said all the team's passing routes and other plays are drawn into the system. While the program initially focused on quarterback play, it has been expanded into other positions on the field as well.
"You can have the tight end on it and ask him questions like, 'Who's your assignment?' or 'Who do you have to block on this play?'" Sells said.
Because the Bearcats are one of the few schools using the system, Sells said they can request updates and changes to it. One they've already asked for is the ability to simulate special teams plays like kickoff coverage from an individual player's perspective.
"The biggest value comes from being able to quiz the players on their assignment," Sells said. "You can find out what they've missed and then you know what they need to work on. It's also helpful for those down-the-line guys who maybe don't get a lot of reps in practice. It would be real useful for the third quarterback, for example."
And if the players have to study this stuff anyway, at least they can do it on a video game.
"The games are so realistic these days, and after you play quarterback they're easier to play," Pike said. "We're definitely moving up in the technology world."
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TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
Final 20 Duke 7 1 Florida State 45 Final 2 Ohio State 24 10 Michigan State 34 Final 5 Missouri 42 3 Auburn 59 Final 17 Oklahoma 33 6 Oklahoma State 24 Final 7 Stanford 38 11 Arizona State 14 Final 25 Texas 10 9 Baylor 30 Final 16 UCF 17 Southern Methodist 13 Final Utah State 17 23 Fresno State 24