COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Not so long ago, college football players with time on their hands would pick up an Xbox game controller.
Now, instead of playing a simulated college or pro game, Ohio State's players most likely reach for their iPad — and a scouting report on their real upcoming opponent.
"That's something guys utilize a lot now," Buckeyes starting right tackle Reid Fragel said. "Whether we're just bored, have some down time, whatever. It's something that we can just pull out and they send us the practice film and the game film within hours after we're done, so it's up and we have easy access to it. It's great."
Each Buckeye has an iPad that allows him to watch clips personally tailored for him and his position, both from the last Ohio State game or practice, as well as to preview an upcoming opponent. The coaches are able to draw up specific plays and emphasize techniques and talking points that are sent to their position groups. There are breakdowns by down and distance, personnel and other game data.
The iPads were provided free as loaners this fall to all 1,100 or so Ohio State student-athletes. The university's intention was to enhance tutoring and mentoring services, but the tablets have become a valuable coaching and communication tool for the 14th-ranked Buckeyes.
It's a far cry from the days when coach Woody Hayes spent hour after hour reversing a clattering film projector while ghostly images of football players in black and white flickered on the wall of his cramped coaching office.
"When I'm not in here (at the team's practice facility), if I'm just sitting at home, I'll look at some of the film on the iPad," freshman tight end Nick Vannett said. "It gives you more time to study the film and be more prepared for the opponent."
The iPads are ideal for coaches who want to pinpoint a message to a player or to dispel all the idle talk bombarding the Buckeyes about the team they'll face next, in this case Saturday's opponent, Central Florida.
"To say that we don't have a lot of respect for Central Florida would be nonsense," coach Urban Meyer said. "The good thing is nowadays our players have already seen film so they have a touch of what's going on with all these iPads floating around here. They have plenty of film to watch."
For the past few years, the players could take home DVDs that had clips and films and cut-ups on them.
Now many players also carry the ubiquitous iPhone. Yes, there's an app for that. They can get game films, clips, emails, texts and pictures sent to that platform as well.
Just 90 minutes after Ohio State's 56-10 season-opening victory over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, the game video was sent to the players and they could watch it without commercial interruption and with pertinent replays.
A blown assignment on that third and 1? A coach can point out what went wrong and how to correct it.
An encouraging word to a player who is down about his lack of playing time? Here comes a quick note showing a highlight and a compliment to reassure him he's still a valued member of the team.