How 'Madden' Empowers College Football Coaches

playactionsimulatorEarly this morning MTV News people who know things about football were passing around an e-mail subject-lined "GREAT STORY." And they sent this e-mail my way.

Didn't they know? I don't speak football.

What got them excited is the XOS PlayAction Simulator, an officially-licensed mod of "Madden" that is being used by some college football programs, including the one at Louisiana State University that is in tonight's Bowl Championship Series game tonight against Ohio State. The Associated Press was reporting that "[LSU quarterbacks] Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux are usually still working on the game plan for the BCS national championship game against Ohio State when they fire up the Xbox these days."

And before it could even hit me that, "oh, apparently the BCS game is today," the gamer in me was realizing that the rest of what the story described seems pretty cool.

I reached out to the folks at XOS to understand what this was all about. A company representative told me that XOS has licensed the PC version of "Madden 08" and has worked with "Madden"-maker Electronic Arts to offer a version of the game designed for coaches and their players. The idea is to enable a coach to create a digital playbook and give it to their players to simulate and learn.

XOS sent me a summary of how it works:


High level process is:

1.) Create playbook diagram using XOS Playtools

2.) Publish playbook to the XOS EA PlayAction simulator

3.) Share using a USB stick

4.) Player loads up on his laptop and uses a PW (password) and login to access the information

5.) Player is taking a test – once he plugs back into the network the coach sees his grade

They are running their offensive playbook against a real defense that they broke down using Playtools. Coaches can then easily add comments, questions, etc. so when the player uses they system it becomes a teaching tool giving them virtual repetitions.

The program was launched in July and is also used by the University of Tennessee. The XOS rep told me that the buying seasons for college football teams is January-June, so now they hope to get this product out more.

I was told that there will be a video of the PlayAction Simulator on XOS' website today. I was sent a copy so I could watch the program in action. The video shows the UT Volunteers at home against the LSU Tigers. The stadium is empty. No EA Tracks music plays. The only action is the football being played on the field.

Sometimes the game pauses. Text appears that ask multiple choice questions about things like blitz threats or the type of defense that the opposing team is running.

I wanted to know how much the program costs, but XOS doesn't release pricing info to the media.

I think we established that my football knowledge is limited. Nevertheless, this seems like an interesting way for games to be used as teaching tools. Any football players want to say how useful they think this would be?