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Greg Johnson | | February 11, 2015

Committee to explore technological advances

The NCAA Football Rules Committee plans to examine the possible use of technology-based experimental rules and their impact on competition.

The committee is interested in gathering data on the use of tablets and computers in the team bench area, coaching booths and locker rooms for coaching purposes.

Other areas that could be reviewed include allowing players to wear helmets with cameras to show footage from the perspective of a player, and permitting wireless communication from a coach to one player on offense and one on defense.

Several conferences proposed experimenting with these rules and hoped to receive support from the committee, which has formed a subcommittee to further explore these issues.

Teams are now not allowed to use tablets or computers in the team bench area or coaching booths. Such devices are allowed for use only by medical personnel for the collection of student-athlete health and safety data.

Committee members see some positive aspects in the technology-based proposals but want more data gathered in order to make informed decisions about the future use of technology in college football.

“The committee wants to incorporate the modern forms of technology and innovation that will advance the quality of instruction for the game,” said Troy Calhoun, head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy and chair of the committee. “We would like to encourage some controlled experimentation to further our broader discussion within our membership.”

All rules changes must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss football rules recommendations via conference call March 5.

Rules proposals supported by the committee include:

• Allowing an eight-person officiating system to be utilized. A center judge was used experimentally in several conferences during the past two seasons. The benefits of having the extra official included getting the ball spotted more efficiently and detecting holding and hands-to-the-face penalties.

• The ineligible downfield rule was adjusted from three yards to one yard past the line of scrimmage. To be legal, a lineman who is more than one yard past the line of scrimmage must be engaged with a defensive player when a pass is released.

• A 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul will be called on players who push or pull opponents off piles – for example, following fumbles.

• If a helmet comes off a defensive player in the final minute of a half, there will be a 10-second runoff of the game clock and the play clock will be set at 40 seconds. Previously, the play clock was set to 25 seconds.

• Officials will return to giving teams an initial sideline warning when their personnel move out of the designated team bench area.

• Officials are to treat illegal equipment issues – such as jerseys tucked under the shoulder pads and writing on eye black – by making the player leave the field for one play. The player may remain in the game if his team takes a timeout to correct the equipment.

• Allow instant replay review to see if a kicking team player blocked the receiving team before the ball goes 10 yards on onside-kick plays.

• Teams must be provided at least 22 minutes prior to kickoff for pregame warm-ups. Teams may mutually agree to shorten this time period.

• The calling of team timeouts by the head coach will be instant-replay reviewable at any time.

• If the play clock runs to 25 seconds before the ball is ready for play, officials will reset the clock to 40 seconds. Previously, the play clock would be reset when it reached 20 seconds.

• Based on research findings of the National Football League, non-standard/overbuilt facemasks will be prohibited.

• The committee also discussed length-of-game issues in the sport, meeting with television partners in an effort to find ways to reduce dead time in the game. In the 2014 season, the average game in Football Bowl Subdivision was three hours and 19 minutes.

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