College football could be entering a brave new world this fall when some players from the Pac-12, SEC and Big 12 will wear electronic devices to monitor their movements and speed, according to this report from AL.com.
The idea, in part, is to eventually improve player safety, but SEC football officiating coordinator Steve Shaw told AL.com that the move could also benefit media partners and perhaps be used in coaching, too.
"I think it really is more for tracking how fast a player is moving and the direction of his movements so you have an electronic signature of all of that," Shaw said. "Then what you do with that, we have to figure that out. You could track speed before a collision and that sort of thing. To be honest, I'm not sure what all of the applications are. But it has potential benefit in player safety, so I think it's worth taking an initial step to see what the technology does."
There's no telling how the devices will be worn or how many players will take part in the experiment, according to Shaw.
"There's not a final plan out there," he said. "The technology is emerging. It's not fully developed. There's promise in it and we really need to look at and see if it has benefits to the game. That's as far as we are right now."
Color us a little skeptical about the practical safety applications of this initiative. If the technology really catches on, safety will take a back seat as it will be difficult for colleges and media to ignore the marketing potential of these types of devices. After all, they could create entirely new perspectives on how to watch, present and analyze the game.
For instance, numbers crunchers might finally get the kind of data they need to create new metrics to measure player performance on both sides of the ball, which would also benefit coaches and affect everything from offensive and defensive schemes to recruiting.
Is there such a thing as too much information? Will the passions and traditions of college football eventually be boiled down to mere data points?
We might find out.