Rule Changes Expected for 2024 College Football Season

The NCAA Football Rules Committee is proposing new rules for the 2024 college football season.
Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Justin Robinson
Nov 23, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Justin Robinson / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, the NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed new rules to go into effect for the 2024 college football season. Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports reports that the proposals include adopting in-game helmet communications between coaches and players, the use of sideline tablets, and the introduction of a two-minute warning.

These are changes that have been long-expected for college football, particularly helmet communications. And assuming these rules are approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, who will discuss the proposal on April 18, it would be another step towards college football becoming more like the NFL.

Helmet communications on the way for college football

Amongst the biggest debates for technology-use in college football has been the discussion about introducing an in-game helmet communications system for coaches to talk to players. The technology has existed for decades in the NFL, but cost concerns have slowed college football's willingness to adopt it.

During the 2023-2024 college football bowl seasons, select teams were granted the ability to experiment with the use of helmet communications in bowl games. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and now we'll almost certainly see the FBS level of the sport move forward with helmet communications. Per the proposal, one offensive and one defensive player would wear listening devices, and communications with the sidelines would shut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock.

Of course the introduction of helmet communications means we won' t be seeing nearly as much humorous signaling of play calls from the sidelines.

Sideline tablets expected for college football

Another technological advanced expected to be adopted this fall is the use of tablets on the sidelines and at halftime of college football games. The tablets would be used solely for viewing in-game film from the TV broadcast and the coach's sideline and endzone video angles. Teams would be allowed up to 18 tablets so coaches and players can dissect plays in real time.

Two-minute warning to be introduced for college football

The last major rule change proposed is the introduction of an automatic timeout at the two-minute mark of the second and fourth quarters, just like the NFL's two-minute warning. Last season college football adjusted its timing rules by no longer stopping the clock for first downs with the exception of the final two minutes of each half. This two-minute warning would coincide with that and give teams an extra stoppage late in games, which is absolutely massive both for teams looking to run out the clock or those in need of a last minute comeback.

Of course many can't help but be skeptical that the introduction of a two-minute warning would actually be to help teams in late-game situations as opposed to simply giving broadcast partners another excuse for a commercial break.

Final Thoughts

The introduction of helmet communications and tablets are both long overdue for college football, and there's a great chance these moves improve the quality of play on the field. Helmet communications allow coaches to more clearly relay play calls to their team as well as give them a chance to remind players about what to look for from their opponents on a given play. And with tablets displaying live game film, players and coaches can get a better understanding of what adjustments they need to make as the game progresses.

Cynicism about more commercials aside, I believe the two-minute warning would be a positive for college football as well. The extra stoppage makes it more likely for the trailing team to get the ball back in the final minutes. Ending constant clock stoppages on first downs last season made it more difficult for teams to stage wild, late-game comebacks. The two-minute warning helps allow for that, which means more exciting finishes.

These are good moves for college football in 2024.