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Oklahoma Won't Use In-Helmet Radios in the Alamo Bowl, but Changes Could Come in 2024

With Jackson Arnold making his first career start, the Sooners opted to not introduce a new method for relaying play calls to the field in the Alamo Bowl.

SAN ANTONIO — The college football landscape is ever changing.

This year Michigan’s sign stealing scandal took up plenty of oxygen, leading to more calls for in-helmet communications to be brought into college football to mirror the NFL.

Ahead of the season, bowl games were permitted to pilot communication devices on the field and tablets on the sideline, so long as both teams agreed to the terms.

Thursday’s Alamo Bowl between No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) and No. 14 Arizona (9-3, 7-2) will not be one of those contests.

The Sooners are breaking in a new offensive coordinator duo, Seth Littrell and Joe Jon Finley, as well as first-time starter Jackson Arnold at quarterback.

With all the moving parts headed into the contest, Littrell said the staff just wanted to make things as straightforward as possible for Arnold.

“We haven’t used it before,” Littrell said Tuesday in a press conference at the Alamodome. “To me, it’s neither here nor there. I’m not saying I’m against it, but for us to use it as our first game right now, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

In the future, Littrell said he’s not opposed to introducing in-helmet communication to college football, but it’s not been a concern in the lead-up to the Alamo Bowl.

On the sideline across from Littrell, Finley and Brent Venables will be Arizona’s Jedd Fisch, who coached in the NFL for over a decade before settling in Tucson.

Fisch was full throated in his support for bringing the NFL model into college football, going as far as to say he believes it’s on the way for the 2024 season.

“I came from the NFL, so that's kind of how we've been communicating,” Fisch said on Wednesday. “It's nice to get back to that. I think we'll be kicking that off in the first game of next year, from what I understand. We're not going to be using it in this game. We will very much be using it, as far as I'm aware, starting the first game of next year. That will give everybody spring football, training camp to work any kinks out.”

Years of trial and error by the NFL have produced a slate of regulations around how the coaches on the sideline and players on the field can communicate via radio — rules that Fisch hopes the NCAA will mirror.

“You shouldn't be in someone's ear for 30 seconds or when they're standing over the ball,” Fisch said. “I think that will be a distraction more than a help.

“… Cut the thing off at 25 seconds, give a coach 15 seconds to talk, then move on. I think if we could do that, get this legislated properly, put it in one person's helmet, not 11, we have a great chance of being successful here. If we do it the other way, I think it will cause more harm than good.”

Whatever changes come this offseason, the Alamo Bowl will look like every other game that the Sooners and Wildcats have played this season.

Kickoff in the season finale and final football game for OU in the Big 12 and Arizona in the Pac 12 is slated for 8:15 p.m. at the Alamodome on Thursday, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.