What Are Football Analytics?

    More and more, teams are continuing to use analytics to gain a competitive advantage. What are football analytics, and how do teams use them?

    The game of football changes every year. Each new era of college football brings new rules, schemes, traditions, and focuses. Recently, the use of “advanced” analytics has become one of the newest and most important trends. So what exactly are football analytics, and why is its use seemingly so controversial?

    What Are Football Analytics?

    Analytics simply refers to the use of numbers and data to drive decision-making. In football, that might mean something as simple as viewing a defense’s yards allowed per pass when devising a game plan or something more complicated like using historical trends to choose when to punt or leave the offense on the field on fourth down.

    These decisions are driven by droves of data and helpful models. That information can include data unique to a certain team or opponent, but it may also include numbers from every team in the country over the past few years.

    Some of the most popular ways analytics are used are to make decisions about when to go for it on fourth down, when to attempt a two-point conversion, and late-game clock management decisions.

    Every team uses analytics to some extent, but some coaches rely on numbers far more often than others. Because of this, the use of football analytics can be considered a controversial topic for some.

    Why Is the Use of Football Analytics Controversial?

    The use of analytics is not controversial in the sense that some people believe it gives an unfair advantage. Rather, some argue the opposite. Many fans, coaches, and media members believe that relying on data hurts a team’s effectiveness.

    Others believe coaches should rely on their “gut” and football experience when making decisions and that the use of data clouds a coach’s judgment.

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    At the root of the argument is an “old school versus new school” debate. A new wave of college football coaches use analytics to try to gain a competitive advantage while many older coaches dislike the concept because it goes against the way things have been done in the past.

    Going forward, the use of analytics will expand off the field to roster building, recruiting, and the transfer portal.

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