When Oklahoma and Texas met in the Cotton Bowl on October 13th, 1984 the Longhorns were the nation's top ranked team and the Sooners were number three. The result of the game was a 15-15 tie that never should have been. Trailing 15-12 with time winding down the Longhorns had driven the field and were within scoring distance. When Texas Decided to take a shot at the end zone before attempting a field goal Oklahoma's Keith Stanberry clearly intercepted Todd Dodge's tipped pass in the end zone. However, the play wasn't called that way as the Southwest Conference officials calling the game called it an incomplete pass. Texas kicked a field goal and the rest is history, literally.
Technology has come a long way since 1984 and has subsequently had its impact on the game. In today's modern world of sports entertainment a call as atrocious as the 1984 OU/Texas game may still have still been made on the field but it never would have stood. Thanks to instant replay the on field officials now have a big brother looking over their shoulder and the power is there to review, review and review to get the call right. We've seen it in the NFL, college football and even in the Major League Baseball playoffs this past year. Officials on the field think they've seen one thing when reality shows something different.
Of course this has changed the game from the standpoint that it can be a time consuming process. Modern technological advances have allowed the officials to review the play from just about every angle on the field while we are able to see the exact thing they're looking at from the comfort of our living rooms. That doesn't put replay above reproach as critics argue the slowing of the game is bad for ratings, attendance and most importantly advertising revenue. Ask the `84 Sooners if they would have sacrificed all of that to get a play called properly?
It isn't just in the camera angles where technology has changed the game either. The way teams are able to prep for an opponent has greatly improved the quality of play. Where a team used to have to wait for several days for the latest game film on their next opponent to be shipped and processed before it could be reviewed. Now information comes instantly. Not only can a coach know what his next opponent did in their previous game before that game even ends, he also has access to the latest injuries and stats for that opponent instantly. For example, Bob Stoops knew that Texas A&M's Christian Michael had broken his leg, Ryan Tannehill had passed for 449 yards and had probably viewed all 50 of his passes before leaving the Switzer Center following Oklahoma's 43-10 thumping of Colorado.
What this does is allow coaches to start game planning for their opponent on Sunday and implement that plan in Monday's practice. By the time you get to Saturday the two coaching staffs know (or at least they should) their opponents inside and out which results in a more strategical game flow where in-game coaching adjustments matter more now than they ever have before.
Football players are bigger, stronger and faster than they ever have been before. They're also better prepared thanks to better cameras, digital transmissions and crystal clear monitors and televisions. Now, if we could just do something about improving those officials.