Univ. of Washington football using coach-to-player communication tech

The University of Washington football team will be relying on technology as well as new additions to boost their on-field performance this fall.

The Huskies have already brought on Steve Belichick, former New England Patriots defensive coach and son of former head coach Bill Belichick. Now the younger Belichick is bringing in coach-to-player communication devices in his defensive players’ helmets to help execution during spring practice sessions.

washingtonA recent story from The Seattle Times detailed how the Washington football team is utilizing coach-to-play communication technology to prepare for the 2024 fall season.

Below is an excerpt from The Seattle Times story.

Helmet communication systems are likely coming to college football in 2024. The NFL has relied on technology since 1994, but the NCAA has always relied on signs to send messages between the sideline and players on the field.

Graduate assistants holding up giant play-call signs featuring emojis, memes and portraits of rapper Tupac Shakur, among others, became a regular part of the gameday experience, while backup quarterbacks with headsets made vague hand gestures to help call the next play.

However, the past season put college football’s reluctance to use helmet communication systems under the spotlight, especially after then-Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for three games by the Big Ten for violating sportsmanship rules in a sign-stealing scandal.

On March 1, the NCAA Football Rules committee recommended allowing teams to voluntarily use the technology. The new rule proposes that one player on the field may have direct, one-way communication with a coach on the sideline until there are 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or the ball is snapped, whichever happens first. Players with the communication technology will be identified by a green dot on the back midline of his helmet.

New rules must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will meet to discuss wearable technology for football on April 18.

Bruener has already felt the impact of having the helmet communication system. He said it has allowed the Huskies to streamline play calls and make individual adjustments for specific plays.

Additionally, the huddle to hear Bruener’s play call gives the entire defense more time to talk and coordinate than in the past, when players scattered to their positions and had to scan the sideline for their assignments. Bruener called the system “cool” even if he’s still adjusting to it, while safety Kamren Fabiculanan said he hopes to try it next.

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“It’s weird sometimes,” Bruener said. “I’ll just be walking and all of a sudden it’s like someone’s whispering to you.”

Of course, Bruener’s helmet communication system is one of many changes for the Huskies’ defense this season.

To read the full story from The Seattle Times about the University of Washington football team, click here.