FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has mentioned on several occasions how he has begun to use analytics to help him make in-game decisions.
Bielema was asked Thursday during his weekly radio show to describe how he first became interested in analytics and how he’s using them this season.
Here are the highlights of what Bielema had to say:
How he first became interested in analytics
“During the offseason, I’ve always tried to find ways to make us a little bit better. Two years ago we went virtual reality, a nice way for younger players to view things in live action. I was actually a clinic speaker in Minnesota, (former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill) had asked me to be the speaker there two years ago and we couldn’t do and this last year I was able to do it. And when I was getting ready to come up there I got a phone call from (current Arkansas offensive analyst) Rob Ash, who was a guy that I had known through the business, been a head coach at Drake, been a head coach at Montana State, done an unbelievable job wherever he’s been. His son was part of a group that was selling us analytics, and so when went to the clinic my video director and I sat down and visited with him. It was supposed to be an half-hour meeting it ended up being about an hour and a half, two hours. I was just engrossed with it.”
How it works
“What it basically does, it takes stats from the last 10 years of college football and it gives you statistical numbers and situations, but then it plugs in you and your opponent and it computes this process. It was made by I believe a graduate out of Northwestern that is like a mathematics guru. It lays out what to do in first, second, third quarter and fourth quarter based on score, percentage of conversions based off what they’ve seen in college football and what you’ve ben able to do. It gives you weekly reports on your opponents as well as yourself. It gives scenarios that happen outside of the world that your involved in so you can learn from other coaches.”
How Bielema uses it
“It has really truly been one of the neater things I’ve been involved with as a head coach. I haven’t gone to it totally. I study it kind of on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. There’s a book, but I haven’t actually fully gone . . . I kind of do what I learned from the book and then I use what I feel in my stomach, my heart and my head then I listen to my coordinators a little bit and that’s how we’ve done things.”