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The best college football play card signs: Emojis and memes and cartoons and all

An inherently college football phenomenon needs to be recorded for future generations.

The communication game has been raised by a college football team yet again. Oregon State dropped this play card in its 2017 opener.

That is your friendly neighborhood Crying MJ meme, the internet sensation that’s photoshopped onto any and every unfortunate thing that happens to someone.

The incredible irony of Oregon State’s Crying MJ play card is that on the very next play, the Beavers fumbled.

These funny play cards are on seemingly every college football sideline.

And they’re much more compelling visually than the way things used to be done:

Georgia v Oklahoma State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sometimes the giant play cards are decoys; other times they may be conveying a message with one of the pictures. Here’s one of Clemson’s from this year’s national championship game.

Richard Johnson

They serve a dual purpose of conveying a complex message into something simple while simultaneously making the NFL upset. That’s a movement we can all get behind.

These signs are unique to college football. They’re used to help teams run their offenses faster. It eases the mental workload on a quarterback because players can look to the sidelines instead of going into a huddle. They're also used in a lot of concepts that don't require the quarterback to change the call or decipher the complexities of a defense.

The proliferation of the sign is becoming bothersome to some in the NFL. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said it’s making it harder to evaluate quarterbacks.

But the play cards can be broken into a few distinct categories. We’ve grouped those right here for you, the reader.

The ones that are at least tangentially about sports

Some are clear references to sport. Others are a little backhanded, but still work.

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Wisconsin vs Penn State Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Florida State v Mississippi Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Nebraska v Purdue Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Poinsettia Bowl Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Mississippi State v Auburn Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Speaking of Auburn, Samford put former Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on one of their play cards. He had some fun with the whole situation.


Lookin’ at you, Clemson.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Richard Johnson/SB Nation

Clemson opponents are getting in the act too.

Pop culture and such


Colorado v Colorado State

The ones I’m not quite sure of

I think this has something to do with the Sugar Bowl. I think.

The one doing it for the Gram

The one doing it for love

There are many, many more too.

Have your own personal favorite play card?

Show us in the comments.