College football: Helmet cams could give teams a new point of view

First Published      Last Updated Aug 17 2015 07:34 am

College football » While driven by television, coaches also are intrigued with the technology.

Has there ever been a college football fan who hasn't watched a quarterback making a bad decision and yelled, "What was he looking at?"

Soon, college football fans might get to see exactly what quarterbacks are viewing.

There is growing interest in allowing helmet cameras in college football, possibly as soon as the 2016 season.

The interest is spurred by two elements, a desire by TV networks to give fans new and exciting angles to view games and by coaches who are interested in the cameras to give them more insight.

It turns out, fans aren't the only ones wondering what players are thinking out there.

"It's an interesting concept," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, whose teams have experimented with using helmet cameras in noncontact drills. "You're always looking for anything that will give you an advantage and it could help to watch the quarterback's progressions and focus on particular plays. But I'd have to see the footage to determine how much value it would have as a teaching tool."

Jeremy Jeansonne, the co-founder and CEO of Sports Video Innovations, believes Whittingham and other coaches will like what they see in the technology.

First developed in 2013 in collaboration with Schutt helmets, the SchuttVision cameras fit just above the facemask in the nose bumper of the helmet.

"The greatest challenge in developing the camera was making sure it would pass the NOCSAE [National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment] certification test and making sure the design was as unobtrusive as possible to the helmet," Jeansonne said.

Thanks to camera technology, Jeansonne and his team made such a design work. It was embraced immediately in 2014 by the Arena Football League, which signed a deal to use the cameras.

According to Jeansonne, more than 30 NFL and college teams are experimenting with the helmets, including Notre Dame, Michigan, Clemson, Oregon and Texas Tech.

However, the experimentation has been limited to practice. While there is talk of possibly using the cameras in some bowl games this year, the cameras and their systems must be approved by the NCAA.

In 2014, the ACC was denied a request to experiment with helmet cams and coach-quarterback communications for the 2015 season, mainly because the request, which came in June, didn't give the NCAA rules committee enough time to discuss the matter.

The NCAA prevents the use of film for coaching purposes during a game, and cameras and microphones are prohibited at field level.

However, as more and more interest grows in the systems, the committee seems to be agreeable to their inclusion.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who is the chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, is in favor of changing the rules, acknowledging it could be a win-win situation for coaches as well as TV networks.

"Hopefully we can get it done this year or next," he said. "The technology is there. The cameras are so small it's not like the old days where they were so heavy you had to worry about it. Think of the views that we can get. It's something we can and should do."

Utah State coach Matt Wells is intrigued too, although he isn't sure if it will benefit quarterbacks or those who think they are quarterbacks.

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