NCAA considers new rule allowing in-helmet communications

Three decades after the NFL started putting speakers in quarterbacks’ helmets so they could hear the coaches’ play calls, college football may follow suit.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed a rule that would allow one player to have a speaker in his helmet to hear his coaches.

“In games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams, each school would have the option to use coach-to-player communications through the helmet to one player on the field. That player would be identified by having a green dot on the back midline of the player’s helmet,” the NCAA proposal says. “The communication from the coach to the player would be turned off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or when the ball is snapped, whichever comes first.”

The rule will become official for the 2024 season if it is approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets on April 18.

College football coaches have been saying for years they’d like to have the same technology as the NFL, but the issue came to a head in 2023 when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended amid allegations that his team broke NCAA rules to steal signs.

Harbaugh is now head coach of the Chargers, where his voice will be go directly into Justin Herbert’s helmet. That’s become such an ordinary part of the NFL that it’s barely discussed anymore. It may be a new element of college football in 2024.

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