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Ten College Football Jobs That Automation Will Soon Eliminate

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Cognitive Solutions and Optimization come to the B1G

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama
Adjusting Parameters...System Refresh In Progress
Mark Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us as we enter an age of “Cognitive Solutions” innovating new cost optimization strategies for businesses in every industry. In fact, coming up with ways a company can use more robots and programs and fewer human workers has become an industry in and of itself. The inexorable march of human progress will soon advance to the point that very few humans will create economic value, and as we all know, the meaning of the human experience is to create as much economic value as possible. For most of us, this means our purpose for existing will soon end.

Fortunately, sports will be among the last institutions to reject humanity in favor of machine learning, and considering many Big Ten teams are still uncomfortable with the forward pass, I can confidently say this league will be one of the very final holdouts against robotic takeover. However, that doesn’t mean automation won’t be creeping its way in sooner than you’d think.

These ten jobs will be among the first to go.

10: Chain Gang

This one just barely makes it on to this list, but despite the numerous proposals to replace this fixture of gridiron football, such as cutting 23 of the workforce with the Dicker-rod, they still roam the sidelines today. This is perhaps the “autonomous electric vehicles” of football; perpetually right around the corner.

9: Off Tackle Empire “Writer”

Our own LincolnParkWildcat could, in an afternoon, put together an AI that would ignore all watch the games, passive-aggressively disparage Wisconsin and shout context-free epithets at Michigan.

For our sake, I hope he doesn’t.

8: TV Commentary

Is any commentary team currently on college football broadcasts as beloved as the virtual booth of Cyberbrad Nessler, Kirkbot Herbstreit and VirtuaLee Corso?


“Uh, Scooter, what are you doing?”

“Kirk, my friend, that’s the sound of the offense movin’ in reverse!”

7: Kicking Tee Retriever

As great an American tradition as the honest and diligent farmer or the tough-as-nails coal miner, the kid that runs and gets the kicking tee after the kickoff may someday have to explain to his family that this modern world don’t have no more use for an ol’ kicking tee retriever like me, but this is the only life I’ve ever known.

The common man weeps for you. The shareholders of Teeland Intelligent Systems Integration, Inc. do not.

6: Academic Counselor

You’d expect that, of the major sports institutions, the leaders in innovating these advancements would be in the Big Ten or on the West Coast. You’d be wrong. It is in fact the University of North Carolina that’s making the most progress on this revolution, with their groundbreaking AFAM paper courses allowing student-athletes to go seamlessly from football activities to social activities without the usual academic activities costing valuable time. Though questioned by their accrediting board, these actions were 100% kosher as far as the NCAA is concerned, and so I’d expect this innovative program to be emulated nationwide.

5: Umpire/Head Official


Number 65.


Ten-yard penalty.

Repeat first down.”

For all you know, this is happening already.

4: Get-back guy

The rise of this skilled labor position has been swift, aided by the high-profile tumbles taken by Tim Beckman in no-man’s land back in 2012. This incident brought a lot of attention to the issue of coaches in the no-man’s-land on the sideline, and thus a coach, often the strength coach, was designated as the Get Back Guy, responsible for “HOLD ME BACK, BRO” activities.

Those impassable barriers only seen in the lightsaber duel at the end of The Phantom Menace would do nicely in this job.

3: Marching band

The first steps towards this revolution have already been taken by none other than PJ Fleck installing DJ ILL MIX to “supplement” the band for the gameday experience. In practice, of course, the sound system’s repertoire grows as the band’s shrinks. Replace a band hundreds strong with one dude with a Macbook and you’ve saved untold resources. From there, it’s just a matter of programming an AI that will use an algorithm to generate EDM-based music; if in the SEC, for instance, add a banjo sample and it becomes modern country.

Why Rutgers hasn’t led the charge to generate sick club tracks in the stadium I’m not certain.

2: Punt returner

This is probably something that can only happen at Illinois, but the punt returner himself doesn’t need to be automated. Rather, a program will analyze all current parameters and determine if the risk of turning the ball over outweighs the benefits of a possible return. If so, it will advise the Illini head coach not to put a return man back.

It’s actually just a static screen that says “DON’T PUT A RETURN MAN BACK.”

1: Head coach

Despite a very successful 2017, the most prominent beta test of this automation experiment ran into hiccups in 2018, most notably losing to Minnesota. Still, Wisconsin believes in Paul_Chryst.exe