Helmet cams, sideline computers coming to college football
College football is embracing technology.
The NCAA football rules committee wants to experiment with helmet cameras, wireless communication between coaches and players on the field and the use of computers on the sideline as coaching tools.
The committee announced Wednesday after two days of meetings in Indianapolis that it was hoping to gather data about expanding the use of technology in college football with an eye toward implementing rules as soon as the 2016 season.
''We'd like to get that rolling go forward,'' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who serves as the committee chairman. "Is that too ambitious? Is that too optimistic? I don't know. I think that's quite feasible.''
The NCAA says several conferences proposed experimenting with these rules and Calhoun suggested the technology be used in five or six December bowl games during the 2015 season.
The helmet cameras would likely be placed on quarterbacks and used to allow coaches to see what the player is seeing on the field. While the committee wants the cameras for coaching, Calhoun acknowledged they could become part of a television broadcast.
''If it can go forward for more media use in a way maybe even for television to piggyback on it, hopefully that's even more beneficial going down the road,'' he said.
Wireless devices in helmets that allow coaches to give directions or play calls to quarterbacks and one defensive player are used in the NFL. Communication is allowed only between plays and cut off when the play clock reaches 15 seconds.
Calhoun said he'd like to have a similar rule in college football.
Computers on the sideline and coaching booths would allow players and coaches to review still photos and video.
''Any ways that we can improve communication,'' Calhoun said. ''This far into the 21st century to have the technology that we know is available, we want to make sure it's molded in way which is very helpful in college football without creating a huge imbalance when it's time to go compete.''
The committee also passed a proposal to adjust the ineligible man downfield rule from 3 yards to 1 yard past the line of scrimmage. In recent seasons defensive coaches have become exasperated with offenses that push the envelope with option plays that make it difficult for defenders to decipher whether a team is running or passing the ball.
''It's going to be easier to officiate,'' NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said. ''It was really beginning to be difficult to sort of look whether the player was at 3 yards and see whether the ball had been released or not. It was felt that this is a more fair way to adjudicate the rule.''
Several FBS conferences have been using eight-person officiating crews over the past two seasons on an experimental basis. Now eight-person crews will be permissible for all conferences, though not mandatory.
Some of the other proposals supported by the committee, which need approval by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel when it meets on March 5:
-A 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul will be called on players who push or pull opponents off piles - for example, following fumbles.
-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.
Calhoun said there was no conversation about the issue that caused such a stir last year: pace of play.
A proposal to prohibit offenses from snapping the ball during the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock ticked off plenty of coaches who use hurry up, no-huddle offenses. Eventually, it was pulled before it ever went up for approval. The proposal was passed as a player-safety issue.
''The thing you wanted was verification that was brought forth that there's no pertinent data that shows we had a safety problem,'' Calhoun said.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP