Sources: College football leaders nearing adoption of helmet communications

INDIANAPOLIS — With the NFL Scouting Combine playing out just blocks away, college athletics leaders are moving closer to adopting some of their bigger brother’s ideas.

In a long-expected move, administrators Friday are expected to finalize a recommendation for the adoption of a player-to-coach helmet communications system, the use of tablets on the sideline as well as in the halftime locker room and a two-minute warning in the college game.

After two days of debate here this week, the NCAA Rules Committee is scheduled to vote on the changes in a recommendation to the NCAA Division I Council, which often rubber-stamps such decisions.

The helmet communications system is, perhaps, the most significant technological change in recent college sports history. The concept will mirror the NFL. Only one member of each team can be equipped with a listening device in his helmet, and the device’s capabilities end at the 15-second mark of the play clock — a mandatory cut-off time that the NFL also uses.

Electronic tablets would be able to be used on the sideline and in the halftime locker room to review in-game video replays.

A break at the two-minute mark of each half is expected to also be part of the recommendation, something officials are referring to as a “two-minute timeout.” The break will operate in a similar capacity to the NFL’s “two-minute warning.”

For years hesitant to embrace these advancements because of cost-containment issues, college football is poised to adopt the helmet communications nearly 30 years after the NFL began using it and just months after a sign-stealing scandal erupted in Michigan.

While the move will not completely eliminate the sideline art of signing in plays, it is expected to greatly reduce it. Texas Tech used the helmet communications system during its bowl game in December.

“The players loved it,” Cayman Ancell, Tech’s head equipment manager, told Yahoo Sports in a story in December that explored the advancements. “Quarterback loved it. He didn’t have to look at the sideline. He could keep his eyes on the field.”