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NCAA Testing New Coach To Player Communications In College Football

ByAndrew Pistone

Published on Tue Dec 14 2021

|

2 min read

NCAA Testing New Coach To Player Communications In College Football

We know it well in the NFL game. Quarterbacks putting both hands on either side of the helmet in order to help drown out crowd noise. They’re doing this in order to hone in on the audio connection coming through from the playcaller before each snap. Even if the quarterback decides to audible, the offensive play caller’s opinion being communicated from the sideline or booth helps contextualize the game at worst, and provides supreme guidance at best.

If it’s acceptable for well compensated professional athletes to receive hints before the snap, then why not for less seasoned college athletes? This type of intercom system is being tested at the NCAA level currently, and could become more prevalent in the years to come. On November 27th, Grambling State defeated Southern University 29-26 in the Bayou Classic, which was the first NCAA game to feature electronic coach to player communication.

“When we found out that we were going to have this opportunity, we called around and spoke to a few(NFL) people on how this can help,” said Jason Rollins, interim head coach at Southern University. “They all had positive things to say. It keeps the players focused on the game plan and how a play should be executed. Via NCAA.org

The initial implementation rules of this system mimic that of the NFL in many ways. Only one player is allowed to be in contact with a coach on the sideline, and communications are switched off by a neutral party with 15 seconds left on the play clock.  The teams are also responsible for calling out which player has the electronic communication capability, by denoting the helmet of said player with a sticker.

While this advancement will presumably enhance the level of execution that fans witness from teams on a weekly basis, it will also shine a spotlight on the ability of the coaches. For an eternity, coaches would have to get their messages across from the sidelines, via verbal communication, or hand signals. If this technology is adopted on a wider scale in the future, it will be interesting to see whether coaches with NFL experience(who have used this before) will have a significant leg up on their peers who use it for the first time.

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