College football fans who want to get closer to the game are getting their wish.
An emerging technology in the game of football is the use of helmet cameras. If you're a college football junkie, the cameras allow you to get as close to the game itself without actually putting on a uniform and running out of the tunnel.
The cameras, developed by Schutt Sports and Sports Video Innovations, ultimately serve two purposes. As noted, it will eventually provide fans with a new point-of-view to watch through streaming video. In fact, the Arena Football League agreed in January to a principle partnership with Sports Video Innovations to implement Schutt Vision for the 2014 season.
More practically, though, the cameras act as another set of eyes for coaching staffs everywhere. In other words, if a quarterback takes a snap in practice, the coaches would be able to see what the player sees.
NCAA rules prevent the use of film for coaching purposes during a game. Likewise, cameras and/or microphones are prohibited at field level. Unless this is modified, the use of helmet cameras will not be allowed during games.
However, those rules do not include practices. In fact, Florida Atlantic quarterback Melvin German III used a helmet cam for the Owls' 2013 spring game.
SVI CEO JR Liverman explained these uses to SportsUnlimited.com:
From a coaching perspective, this is a valuable tool because you can see the moment in time that a player makes the decision to make a read and what theyre looking at. On the entertainment side, this is going to provide a vignette in coverage. TV cameras are always trying to get closer to the field and this will bring a players perspective.
The cameras are a great idea, but they're still an early adoption stage.
According to Tim Fletcher of the Shreveport Times, Schutt Vision was presented at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Midway through opening day, coaches from LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida State, Green Bay and numerous others stopped by to take a look at this soon to be invaluable coaching tool now known as "Schutt-Vision."
The orders started coming in. One school wanted to know how many Schutt-Vision helmets their rival ordered and topped it with a "plus one more," request.
Yes, Schutt Vision is already a hit, and its popularity will only grow. “We were really happy with the amount of response we got at the AFCA show,” Liverman told SportsUnlimited. “The coaches immediately saw how valuable the footage was and were already talking about the ways they could use it.”
However, Fletcher writes that the helmets will retail for $1,200, making it a pricey investment.
In time, as the technology for the cameras becomes more widely available, costs will go down and more college football programs will be able to afford it.
The cameras are here to stay, and the game of college football will be better for it.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.