College football coordinators can do away with those oversized, cumbersome laminated playsheets — at least in the press box.
The coaches’ booth is indeed evolving.
The NCAA football rules committee approved a proposal this week allowing coaches in the press box booth to use tablets, computers and other electronic devices during games and in locker rooms at halftime.
“Instead of the coaches diagramming on a grease board a play, they can show a video,” said Tom Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association and a member of the rules committee. “It takes us out of a pen and pencil era.”
That’s just one of a few significant changes the committee approved during a four-day meeting in Florida this week. The proposals must be approved by the NCAA playing rules oversight panel March 8 — seen mostly as a formality.
If approved, the changes will be implemented in the 2016 season.
The committee also approved to expand the instant replay officials’ authority. Replay officials are now allowed to stop a game and charge a player with targeting where an “egregious action” occurred but wasn’t seen by on-field officials.
The committee is also allowing conferences to create a central replay command center to potentially collaborate on calls with on-site replay officials in a one-year trial this season. It’s something proposed by the Southeastern Conference, said Rogers Redding, a former official and the committee’s secretary-rules editor.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, in a statement to The Advocate, said the league is still in the process of determining details of the command center.
“We will now further engage our membership to determine if and how we will implement this experimental opportunity,” he said. “We look forward to communicating with other conference offices to discuss the most appropriate and effective implementation of collaborative replay. Our office has been considering various logistical approaches which will be finalized prior to the 2016 season if we decide to use this new experimental rule.”
The on-site official will still make the final decision on replay rulings, Redding said. He would not reveal what other conferences will use this one-year trial.
“It allows the collaboration. The idea is the replay official at the stadium would make the decision but collaboration would come from the off-site people,” he said. “It doesn’t change who makes the decision. It changes the capability for additional consultation.”
The most substantial proposal might be the use of tablets and laptops in the coaches’ booths. The committee reviewed this subject for a year before voting on the proposal this week. Tablets and laptops remain prohibited on the sideline, but that’s something that could change in the future, Yeager indicated.
NFL coaches have been using such equipment in the booth and on the sidelines for at least two years. The league signed a five-year, $400 million partnership with Microsoft in 2014, equipping each team with the company’s Surface tablets on the sidelines and in coaches’ booths during games.
“It is important to note that a number of the high schools allow it,” Yeager said. “Everybody is running around with tablets.”
The rules dealing with ineligible receivers downfield also were discussed at length, according to an NCAA statement announcing the proposals. Ultimately, the committee decided to instruct officials to stringently enforce the 3-yard limit and adjust officiating mechanics to better officiate those plays.
Three additional adjustments were approved to enhance player safety, the committee announced:
- The rules dealing with low blocks were adjusted to prohibit a player who leaves the tackle box from blocking below the waist toward the initial position of the ball.
- A defenseless player now includes a ball carrier who has clearly given himself up by sliding feet first.
- The deliberate tripping of the ball carrier (with the leg) was approved as a foul.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.