Homer Smith on Computers in 1970


In his book Handbook for Coaching the Football Passing Attack (1970) Homer Smith wrote, “Will a computer ever be used to call plays in a football game? The answer has to be yes, and following is an explanation of one person’s conception of how it could be done”.

He goes on to explain a very involved formula for assigning each player on the field a value and then calculating the chances of the player getting a job done. That would be done by 11 observers moving their scale on the board. It involved three instruments, flashing lights and seemed very “Jetson-like.” Here’s a sketch of what he envisioned the observer board would look like.


According to Smith, “…the 11 observer boards (would be connected) to a single instrument which would have a separate program for each play, with a wire for each play coming to it from all 11 boards. The separate programs would determine each play’s chances of working.”

Here’s a diagram of what he was explaining.


Well I hope that never comes true! A computer calling plays would put a lot of us out of jobs and take the human side out of the game.

Technology obviously enables us to do our jobs more effectively and efficiently. I showed some ideas of how the iPad can help us on the field in my post on using the iPad here.

My book 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays also is an example of how technology can provide enhanced materials for our development as coaches. My hope is that, like Smith’s vision, this is a glimpse of how we might share our knowledge in the (near) future.

My book can be purchased in the iBookstore on your iPad. Here is the link:



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