Stories of football coaches swapping game film has been handed down like memorable victories and individual performances.
Coaches from the 1960s into the early ’90s used 16 millimeter film, sometime a league relying on one business to develop film. Often coaches would meet to exchange, or would send in the mail. Or coaches would set times to swap in parking lots of centrally located malls, diners, fields, schools, highway rest stops, whatever was convenient.
As time marched on, videocassette and DVD followed and so did the stories.
“I think it was in 2006, I met Ned Panfile (longtime Manville assistant coach and head coach) at the Bridgewater Commons Mall,” said Bernards’ head coach Jon Simoneau. “It was like 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and after we exchanged I got pulled over by a policeman. I guess it was suspicious to him that two guys were exchanging something at that hour; it could have been a drug deal or something else.
“I told him why we’d met and showed him what we exchanged and he wished us well in our next game, I think he’d been a football player,” Simoneau said.
The long, long drives for the low man on the coaching hierarchy, the in-person swap and the burning of DVDs has been eliminated courtesy of the Internet. Coaches and players with smart phones, computers or tablets are the main benefactors.
Now, a coach need only download film from a digital camera on which it was shot to a website, or email it to his players, who can watch it on smart phones, tablets, etc. Studying film is no less critical, but technology has been a time and money saver, a streamlined wonder for coaches, their players, parents and college coaches who can quickly receive emailed highlight film of potential recruits.
“It has raised the football IQ of everybody because we’re doing it with a different and better process,” Simoneau said.
Some coaches have stayed true to old-school film, but the Lincoln, Neb.-based hudl.com, an online video software program has been an enormously popular tool that has made in-person exchange pretty obsolete. It’s not cheap for schools to get the service. Teams are charged $800 per year for a basic package and if two teams at a school want it, it goes to $1,200 per year.
Being part of it is worth it as a long process is now delivered in a click, coaches said.
As an example, coaches can isolate a specific position, a series of plays from an opposing offensive line and email that to players who can scrutinize on phones before the team and staff watch as a group. Coaches can make comments or use a telestrator like John Madden to show certain tendencies on specific plays, and players can do the same and reply with their ideas.
“Kids can individualize position battles, you might have a defensive back see that a receiver caught a lot of passes off a post (pattern),” Simoneau said.
By Saturday morning, everybody can have full access to the next opponent and well before Monday’s practice, everybody can know at least something.
“It’s really cool,” said Westfield senior lineman Joe Scaglione. “When they send out the hudl film I can look at it at school on my phone if I have a free period. We had an opponent who has a back who lined up as a tight end in a certain formation and our coach wrote on hudl that it usually meant the pass would be going to him.”
Westfield coach Jim DeSarno, who previously was the coach at Kinnelon, would make a trip to Paterson to get his film developed. Now he and the Blue Devils are members of the hudl.com fraternity.
On Sept. 12, DeSarno, a resident of Somerville, had just picked up his son from his own practice. The two went over to Brooks Field, but Somerville’s season opener with Summit was washed out. Westfield’s next opponent, Hillsborough, was at home the same time with Phillipsburg. But DeSarno figured that game had also been called off.
“The next morning, I get an email from Kevin (Hillsborough coach Kevin Carty) with their (hudl) film and a note congratulating me (on Westfield’s win over Elizabeth),” DeSarno said. “I didn’t even know they had played or how they did because I hadn’t been able to check online, and here it is we already have the Hillsborough film.”