By NCAA Sport Science Institute
There has been a trend in professional and college football teams to utilize “Throwback” or “Third” uniforms. Uniform changes have, in some instances, involved a change in helmet. The NCAA Sport Science Institute does not have data with regard to frequent helmet changes and player safety or dislodged helmets; however, we do know that a properly fitted helmet is important in order to help assure that the primary function of the helmet remains intact.
The ‘Helmet Off’ Rule in college football states that if a player’s helmet comes completely off through play, other than as the direct result of a foul by an opponent, the player must leave the game for the next down. The game clock will stop at the end of the down. The player may remain in the game if his team is granted a charged timeout. The timeout allows for the options of both keeping a player in a game at a critical moment while also allowing the equipment staff to adjust the helmet before the player returns to the game.
The ‘Helmet Off’ rule is an important component of helping to assure player safety in college football. An analysis of dislodged helmets reveals a slight upward trend in helmets off during games in all conferences when the 2012 season is compared to the 2011 season. This is likely because the QwikRef system was utilized in 2012, which was much more accurate than the procedures used for 2011. Table 1 summarizes results for 2012.
Table 1. 2012 Total Helmets Off By Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Conferences Per Week
Tables 2-4 show a downward trend in helmets off as the 2012 season moved from Week 1 through the end of the season, although the trend is less linear in the football championship subdivision (FCS) and Division II schools. A similar seasonal progression downward trend was noted in 2011.
Table 2. 2012 FBS Average Helmets Off Per Game Per Week
Table 3. 2012 FCS Average Helmets Off Per Game Per Week
Table 4. 2012 Division II Average Helmets Off Per Game Per Week
We will continue to monitor helmets off throughout the season. Meanwhile, it is important to take note of any upward trends in dislodged helmets at your institution, and to assure that every helmet is fitted properly (See NCAA Helmet Fit poster for more information to share with your student-athletes).
Table 5. Football Bowl Subdivision Week 4 Average Helmets Off Per Game