This isn’t exactly the most exciting rule change ever, but it’s a rule change nonetheless. The NCAA is now limiting the number of headsets teams are allowed to use during a game.
Teams are now capped at 20 headsets. A breakdown of that number allows 15 headsets to coaching staff and/or graduate assistants, four headsets to players on the sideline, and one for non-coaching activities.
It is unclear what prompted this action, but a read between the lines of the official statement suggests the rule is directed at the arms-race mentality that drives college football programs to win by any means necessary. By limiting access, the NCAA is effectively checking affluent programs whose over-use of headset communication may be considered a competitive advantage.
It is also possible that the NCAA wants more clarity of who is doing the communicating. This goes back to the arms race. More and more teams are circumventing the number of coaches a team is allowed to have by hiring offensive and defense “analysts”. By requiring programs to designate certain headsets to certain people the NCAA could theoretically link any communication to a person on the sideline.
Moreover, the 20 sets will operate on a closed network.
Medical, security and other non-coaching staff to use headsets freely without counting towards the cap, provided these unregulated headsets run on a separate network than that of the 20 used by coaches and players.
The move towards a closed network would certainly prevent headset-wearing sideline spies from stealing the other team’s plays, but that is pure speculation.
What do you think? Is this another example of the NCAA setting needless rules that are hard to enforce and have little impact on the game, especially as this comes just weeks after the NCAA set new uniform standards, or is it a needed enforcement to help level the playing field. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.