With the uptick in COVID-19 cases going on in America right now, who knows what will happen with college football this fall. My guess is that there WILL be college football. And if there is, watch for the sideline play cards.

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Sideline play cards are big boards with photos or symbols on them, held up from the sidelines to communicate plays or defenses. And they're usually in code. Some have single images and some have multiple images - with only one being code for the correct information. According to an interview Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis did with the Detroit News:

I can’t get into what our boards mean, but they have a significant meaning, Gattis said. We’re not going to end up throwing up boards out there for no reason. It’s not necessarily a play call. It’s not necessarily anything there. It’s added value and extra information.


My guess is there are some schools (*cough cough* - Alabama) who have a whole team working on decoding other teams' play cards.

The idea originated with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, in 2008. And it's taken off in the last couple of years. Some cards are simple, some are much higher quality. MLive.com demonstrates that with a photo from last fall, of Michigan's "most interesting man in the world" play card. (It looks like the Michigan football program has quite the graphic arts department and has spared nothing on their printing capabilities -you know how much it would cost you or I to have that printed at Kinko's?)

We'll see if Michigan State's new head coach Mel Tucker institutes a sideline play card game that can compete with Michigan's.

Here's a great gallery of college football play cards, from SBNation.com. It would appear "The Most Interesting Man in the World" also has some fans in Texas. Other favorites - everyone from Pee Wee Herman to Blake Shelton to "Arthur the Aardvark".

And wow - Clemson - step away from the printer, dude.

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