NCAA approves helmet communications for FBS games

College football is adding helmet communication for FBS games, two-minute timeouts at the end of each half and other changes approved this week by the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel.

Games featuring FBS teams will give each the option of using coach-to-player communications through the helmet of one player on the field, designated with a green dot on the midline of his helmet. Several teams used helmet communications during the most recent bowl season, but it will now be an option for every game in the sport's top division.

Coach-to-player communication will be shut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock or the snap of the ball -- whichever comes first. The NFL and other levels of football, including some high school associations, have long used helmet communication to signal in plays. FBS coaches had discussed implementing the technology for several years, but the NCAA Football Rules Committee didn't propose it until March. Concerns about cost, logistics and the liability and warranties of helmets that would be modified contributed to the delay.

The topic gained added focus after the NCAA began investigating Michigan for allegedly orchestrating an elaborate signal-stealing system. Georgia coach Kirby Smart, the rules committee co-chair, and others have said they still expect many teams to use hand signals and signs to relay plays.

Teams in all football divisions also will have the option of using tablets to view in-game video. Up to 18 tablets will be distributed on the sideline, locker room and coaches' booths to study the game broadcast feed as well as camera angles from a team's sideline and end zone. The tablets can be viewed by all team personnel but cannot connect to other devices, project larger images or provide data and analytics.

The NCAA panel also approved automatic timeouts with two minutes left in the second and fourth quarters, akin to the NFL's two-minute warning. The timeouts will not be additional television timeouts. All timing rules will be synchronized, including 10-second runoffs and stopping the clock when a first down is gained inbounds.

New rules will allow conferences to use collaborative replay review. Also, horse-collar tackles within the tackle box will result in a 15-yard penalty. Previously, no fouls had been called for such tackles within the tackle box.