Analytics coming, are Cougs ready?

THERE'S A REVOLUTION coming to college football. The question is if Washington State will get in on the ground floor or not.

Baseball, as most every fan knows, went full-in on analytics more than a decade ago. Most hoops fans, unless they watched a recent 60 Minutes Sports program, probably didn't know every NBA team this past season installed cameras up high to track players and render massive quantities of data. College football will soon also move into the world of analytics – some NFL teams are already dabbling in it.

Installing cameras high up in a football stadium won't be as easy as it is to put them high up in the rafters of a basketball coliseum. And it's probably easier to track player movements in basketball than it is football because of the player spacing. The guess here is the college football analytics will primarily go a different route – wearable tech.

IF WSU WERE to move towards it tomorrow, there already exists systems with small chips that can be part of a player's uniform, ones that can measure hundreds of data points.

Player movement, impact, changes in direction, acceleration, how fast they get from Point A to Point B, fatigue, areas of the field players find the most success, how quickly an athlete decelerates – the potential data to be mined is virtually limitless. And in terms of college football, the rendering of that data is only going to become more refined and improve.

It can be used for the long haul, it could be used at halftime or even during a timeout. Data would be assimilated to a team's computers and/or even a smartphone in close to real time.

There's also a health benefit, where warning signs of players who suddenly become at-risk, such as with heat stroke, could be known before a player gets into a dangerous zone.

There are also privacy concerns that would need to be addressed. It's conceivable the tech could tell if a player slept better one night vs. the next. Some irregular bio readings might indicate recent alcohol or drug use.

ANALYTICS IN college football won't be all-encompassing. They can't measure team chemistry, nor individual character. They won't be able to tell a coach if a player is employing proper hand-position.

There's a lot of "coaching" that will never go away.

But the days of a college football world without analytics are coming to an end. There's just too much valuable data that coaches and programs don't have now, that they would have with analytics, be it through wearable tech, cameras or both.

Will the Cougars be one of those college football teams to get in on it at the beginning? Or will the play catch-up with the Jones's?

Some recruiting service is bound to jump into wearable tech as well. And they're probably going to outfit as many high school teams as their budget allows. They can not only charge more for their data vs. the other guys, it stands to reason more of the recruits outfitted with wearable tech will gain offers. If you're choosing between Player A, for whom there is game film plus a ton of measurable, specified data and Player B, for whom there is only game film, which player do you figure is offered a scholarship more often?

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