NCAA Approves Helmet-to-Helmet Communications, Sideline Tablets for Football

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Optional technology rules in football, effective for the 2024 season, were approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday.

In games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams, each school will have the option to use coach-to-player communications through the helmet to one player on the field. That player will be identified by having a green dot on the back midline of the player's helmet.

The communication from the coach to the player will be turned off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or when the ball is snapped, whichever comes first.

For all three divisions, teams have the option of using tablets to view in-game video only. The video can include the broadcast feed and camera angles from the coach's sideline and coach's end zone.

Teams can have up to 18 active tablets for use in the coaching booth, sideline and locker room. Tablets cannot be connected to other devices to project larger additional images and cannot include analytics, data or data access capability or other communication access. All team personnel will be allowed to view the tablets during the game. 

The Football Rules Committee, which met the last week of February, had a thorough discussion regarding wearable technologies.

The committee invites non-FBS conferences that are interested in using wearable technologies to submit an experimental proposal to the committee. Any proposals must be made to the committee by June 15. 

Two-minute timeout

The panel approved adding an automatic timeout when two minutes remain in the second and fourth quarters. 

This rules change synchronizes all timing rules, such as 10-second runoffs and stopping the clock when a first down is gained in bounds, which coincides with the two-minute timeout.

First-down timing rules

After a year of review, Division III committee members decided to adopt the timing rules where the game clock would continue to run when a first down is gained in bounds. The game clock will stop when a first down is gained during the last two minutes of either half. Division I and II schools used this timing rule last season. 

Other rules changes 

  • Allowing conferences the option of using a collaborative replay review system. This will be formally added to the rules book; it had been an experimental rule.
  • Penalizing horse-collar tackles that occur within the tackle box as a 15-yard personal foul. Previously, a horse-collar tackle within the tackle box was not a foul.

Additionally, head coaches can conduct interviews with broadcast partners after the first and third quarters. This was allowed on an experimental basis last season and will be added as a permanent rule. 

Uniforms

The panel did not support a uniform rule proposal made by the Football Rules Committee. Panel members were not comfortable with on-field officials having to enforce the recommended rule. 

The panel understands the rules committee's concern but encourages the committee to look for an administrative solution that does not include game official enforcement.

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