Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NFL Combine Perk and Doc

This video has made its way around the coaches video world, but it is worth sharing again. Mike Perkins (Jacksonville) and Mike Dougherty (Philadelphia) are two NFL Video Directors who have the attitude and work ethic needed to stay in the business as long as they have, and at the level they are in. The video speaks for itself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Video Clinic

Every March the Iowa Football program hosts a coaching clinic intended for high school coaches in the state and the extended area. Aside from the Hawkeye coaches, other high school coaches are brought in from around the nation providing a different perspective. And at that clinic there may be a few people who have an interest in bettering their video by picking the brains of the Iowa Video Staff. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. But today we were able to host high school students who provide video services for a high school program in Central Iowa. Chuck Evans (center) is the high school football coach in Centerville. Today he brought his staff who shoot and commentate their games, as well as their Media Services director. Kim Mitchell (far left) organizes the staff consisting of Brenton Willier (second from left), AJ Anderson (second from right) and Austin Nielsen (far right).

Chuck had been the football coach at nearby Iowa City Regina High School but stepped down from that position to become the Director of Basketball Operations for the Iowa Women's team. But Evans looked to get back to the Friday night sidelines and the opportunity at Centerville opened. Knowing how important video is to a football team, no matter the level, he looked to the media services club to shoot, edit and distribute their games.

While all three of the students were very excited about the opportunity to visit the Hawkeyes, AJ definitely enjoyed seeing the technical side of the job. He was amazed by the amount of storage the Hawkeyes use to store video, the miles of cable run throughout Kinnick Stadium, and the number of DVD duplicators used to distribute discs to coaches and referees.

Willier shares the editing and capturing duties with Anderson, while Nielsen is "only the commentator." All three could not wipe the smiles off their face and knew they were experiencing something that many do not. And since Chuck got this started at Centerville, the other sports there found how important this staff was and began to use them to record wrestling and basketball. This club may be one of the most important in their high school, and becoming one of the more valuable.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

State Tournament Week

Sixteen teams beginning state tournament play on Tuesday afternoon. From all corners of the state and sizes of towns that may have one main street to interstates running through them.It was the "Sweet Sixteen" and fans around the state knew the girls on a first name basis by the time the week was over. These sixteen teams were placed, unseeded, in a bracket with the best teams finding a way to Championship night. One champion rather than one based on the size of school and district.

That was how the Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament played out for a number of years.Games began at 1pm on Tuesday afternoon in Des Moines. For a number of years at Drake Fieldhouse and then later in Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Two games in the afternoon and two games at night. This lasted for three days and games were broadcast on radio by a number of radio stations, including the 50,000Watt Station, WHO broadcasting nationwide at night. Fans from around the state would take the week off to travel to Des Moines, weather or not their team participated, to enjoy a week (or two with the Boys the following week) watching the best of Iowa's teenagers on the hardwood court.

The Iowa Girl's State Basketball Tournament was unique for many reasons. One had to do with one champion for the entire state at the end of the week. The Iowa Boys determined either 3 or 4 champions over the years, but in Iowa, the girls decided one champion on Saturday night.

The other reason it was unique was the style of play. The Iowa Girls played 6 on 6 up until 1992 (1984 was the last year before there was a division of 5 on 5, too). Only one champion with sixteen teams qualifying to play on the main stage in Des Moines.

Starting Monday the Iowa Girls Tournament begins play again. However there won't be sixteen teams, nor will there be one champion. Four classes will play, each with eight teams qualifying. The emotion and satisfaction of winning state will be as special for these teams as it was for any of those in the days of 16 teams with one champion. But what the tournament was like before multiple classes was very special. Something I'm glad I could experience, and will never forget.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

NFL Combine

Day 1 of the NFL Combine is underway with Offensive Linemen, Kickers and Tight Ends the first to be tested. Seven Iowa Hawkeyes made the trip to Indianapolis, with three competing today in Adam Gettis, Riley Reiff, and Markus Zusevics.

As part of the week, the NFL Video Directors remain in town to record every movement of the draft eligible athletes. Since arriving on Monday, each team's Director of Video not only meet to make their group better for the upcoming season, but stay around to work the four-day combine. Whether they are shooting, editing or organizing the workouts, all stay busy. It is common to find a video director leading the groups of players from station to station and ensuring their workout is recorded. By radios they communicate with the shooter to ensure the best video possible.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hawkeye's Mens Basketball Team Sweeps Wisconsin

For the first time since 1995, the Hawkeye Men's Basketball team swept the Wisconsin Badgers. Tonight it was a 67-66 victory in Carver Hawkeye Arena. Senior Matt Gatens led the way with 33 points.

Tonight's game the Iowa Student population was allowed access for free, and they turned out. Sections reserved for the undergraduates were filled to the top row, reminiscent to the times of Dr. Tom Davis and his teams in the late 80s and 90s. Following the win, students rushed the court celebrating the upset of the #15 team in the country.

The Hawkeyes have one more regular season at home. I look for them to turn out as well as they did today celebrating the heralded career of all in the Senior Class.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NFL Video Directors

Most likely the main reason the Big Ten Video Coordinators meet in Indianapolis during February is the contact we have with those in the NFL. And at the beginning of the NFL Combine, the league's Video Directors gather to discuss how they will make their partnership stronger for each other and for their teams. Led by Mike Perkins of Jacksonville (left on head table) and Dave Levy from Tampa Bay (seated to the right of Perkins), the NFL discussed the need to implement HD league-wide. Again, the only two teams that experimented with HD in 2011 were the Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers. But after much discussion it was decided the league would be HD in the 2013 season. The recommendation heads to the NFL Competition Committee, and upon approval would be voted upon by the owners in March.

Meetings wrapped up on Wednesday the 22nd. Only the Video Directors remain in Indianapolis while their staffs head home. The Directors are responsible for shooting all drills during the 2012 NFL Combine.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Ten Video Meetings

The annual meeting of Big Ten Video Coordinators is coming to a close in Indianapolis. The biggest news coming from the two day event is the passing of HD video as the approved format for origination and exchange among conference members. On a vote of 11-0 (Northwestern absent from the meeting) sent the rules and resolution to the Big Ten Conference office for ratification in the Game Management Manual.

In 2011, five Big Ten teams made the jump to HD. Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin provided HD content for their coaches for all 13 games, while Penn State joined half way through. HD was important for video quality as well as video file size as its mp4 1080i 6Mb solution was much smaller than the DV25 Standard Definition format. This allows for quickly exchanging video files while taking up less space on a network server.

HD is also being presented in the NFL. However they are considering 720p 8Mb, a standard encouraged by NFL Films. That vote will take place this week prior to the NFL Combine.

Along with the HD discussion Sony, Panasonic, Dragon Fly Athletics, DVSport and XOS Digital presented solutions to aide in making the jump to HD.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tournament Basketball

February nights in Iowa find many small town residents traveling the local two lane roads to follow their teenage boys and girls on the basketball tournament trail. The tournament trail end in Des Moines for the Hawkeye State's version of March Madness at Wells Fargo Arena.

While the boys began the road to state earlier this week. But for the girls, teams in the smaller classes inched one step closer. In Tiffin, Iowa at Clear Creek Amana High School my hometown team, North Mahaska took on nearby Lisbon to play for the right to go to state. And after the two teams battled each other to a two point NM lead after three, the Lisbon Lions only scored two points the rest of the game and lost 54-37. The Warhawks are one game away from returning to the state tournament, this year as the state's number one team in their class.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

Players are ready to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Giants of the NFC and Patriots of the AFC. And my prediction is the Patriots 38-24.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Loss of an Offensive Coordinator

As I posted on my Facebook wall, when working with a person for 13 years there are going to be highs and lows. But Ken O'Keefe heads to Miami with my greatest respect. He is a person who shouldered too much blame during the lows and didn't receive enough credit amid the highs. He is also a person I would trust coaching my son. I wish him the best of luck as he is reunited with old friends on South Beach.

There was a side of Coach O'Keefe many didn't see. Few saw the driven person who worked tireless hours preparing for the upcoming game. As I tweeted on December 23rd, a week before the 2011 Insight Bowl, the Iowa Offensive Coordinator was still watching video of Oklahoma, the team's opponent in the upcoming game, past 10pm. This was a week before the game, and Ken didn't treat the bowl trip as a vacation, rather it was a business trip. He took pride in being the offensive coordinator and worked tireless hours.

When around the team off the field it may be hard to pick Coach O'Keefe out as the offensive coordinator. Arriving at the team's hotel, he would be the first off the bus and the first to assist in unloading the bags from underneath. While waiting for all of the players to load into the elevators, he would be subject to small talk from others staying there. He didn't necessarily look the part of the offensive coordinator, and wouldn't talk football with these unsuspecting individuals. He could carry on a conversation with most anyone about anything other than football.

He has been successful at many different levels of football. Ken coached a national champion team at Division III Allegheny and his offenses at Iowa were part of the most successful stretch the program has ever seen. He coached a Heisman Runner-Up and Davey O'Brien winner in Brad Banks. And he followed him up with two quarterbacks who achieved leading their teams to top ten finishes as well as a Big Ten Champion with Drew Tate. Now he takes on a new challenge at the professional level. No doubt success will follow.