If you listen to postgame radio call-in shows, it is clear many football fans believe they would do a better job calling plays than the coaches of their favorite teams.
Now, thanks to 21st Century technology and a new start-up football concern, fans can walk their talk by calling the plays in real-live football games.
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For fans who have downloaded the free YCF app (information at yourcallfootball.com), the two head coaches in Thursday's game — ex-Green Bay Packers head man Mike Sherman and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge — will select a bundle of three proposed plays before each snap that their teams could run.
"Fans (then) have 10 seconds to pick the play (from those three suggestions) they want to see run," says Julie Meringer, president of YCF.
Whichever play gets the most fan votes is the one that gets run.
Taking the concept of fantasy sports to the next level, the purpose of YCF is for fans to compete against each other based on their play-calling acumen.
"We are integrating three businesses that exist today," Meringer said. "The business of football, the business of gaming, with the business of fantasy (sports)."
It leaves one to wonder: Could fan immersion of the kind YCF is introducing ever work in NFL or major college football games?
And how did those ex-Cats end up playing in YCF, anyway?
Fans call the plays
It was not until 2013, however, that he approached Meringer, a married mother of three who had left a two-decade career at Forrester to become a stay-at-home mom, with the idea of seeing if the concept could be made a reality.
With some research, Meringer determined no one had any patents in the area of fan-called football. Now, five years and four patents later, YCF is ready to roll out its product.
Fans who download the YCF app can watch the game live in the app or via several other platforms..
The two coaches, Sherman and Hoge, will each have an iPad on the sidelines containing a series of three-play bundles available for various game situations.
"The way we have orchestrated it, every situation — 2nd-and-10, 1st-and-long, whatever it may be — has a series of bundles," Meringer says. "Because 1st-and-10 happens a lot in a game, there are, like, 24 bundles of 1st-and-10 plays."
Once the ball is spotted, there will be a 45-second play clock. The coach will select the play bundle he wants the fans to choose from.
"Then he hits a button on the iPad, it goes up to the cloud and comes down to your phone," Meringer said. "You have 10 seconds to pick the play you want. That gets tallied and (sent) back to (the coach) and says 'the fans chose draw right.' (The coach) radios that in to the quarterback and they run the play the fans called."
If the play works on the field, the fans who voted in the majority are awarded points. However, If the defense stops the play, then the fans who did not vote to run that play are the ones who get the points.
Up to $50,000 in prize money will be split among the play callers who score the most points during the three YCF games (between the same two teams) scheduled for May 3, 10 and 17.
Ultimately, YCF envisions making money via three revenue streams — mobile ads, in-app purchases and sponsorships.
This season, the app is free and anyone who participates in play calling can compete for cash prizes. The plan for 2019, Meringer said, is that downloading the app and play calling would remain free, but you will have to pay a fee to be eligible to win prize money.
Long term, I don't see how fan-called football could ever be used in NFL or major college games..
For the Kentucky-Louisville game, say, what would stop a mass of UK fans from signing up for the U of L app then calling the worst possible play in every situation for the Cardinals?
Presumably, gamblers would have the same motivation to sabotage the team they bet against.
However, Meringer said she can envision the day when the NFL might license the YCF technology and use it in preseason games or for the Pro Bowl.
Ex-Cats in YCF
Of the four former Cats in YCF training camp, Lewis finished his Kentucky career in 2015, while Kemp, McClain and Timmons were all seniors in 2016.
Timmons, the former Franklin County star, said he had never heard of Your Call Football until McClain suggested it.
"I looked at it, and sent it to my agent," Timmons said last week. "Once I did more research about Your Call Football, it was just another opportunity to get more film (to show NFL or Canadian Football League scouts) instead of using my college film."
For the past several weeks, Timmons and the other players have been training in Florida at Dodgertown, the former spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Said Timmons: "We're staying at hotels. We have meetings. We have rules. We have film to watch and plays to learn. They gave us equipment. It really is run like an NFL training camp."
To test its technology,YCF held a scrimmage with local fans in Vero Beach calling the plays. On the field, Timmons said it didn't seem any different from a normal football game. "For us, we are just out there as if the coach was calling the plays," Timmons said.
Nevertheless, in the days leading up to Thursday night's first YCF game, Timmons said he will try to use the reality of fan-called football to his advantage. He plans to utilize his Twitter and Instagram accounts to encourage his friends to call plays to get him the ball.
"Fans want to see touchdowns," Timmons said. "Hopefully, they will call a lot of passes so I get an opportunity to score."
Mark Story: 859-231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory