Monday, October 29, 2012

Another trip to Chicago

Northwestern has a small enrollment, but has some of the bigger named graduates. Since the Wildcats have improved their play on the field many of their alumni are fully backing the team. A week ago ESPN talent, and Washington Post writer Michael Wilbon was the honorary captain for the 'Cats as they took on Nebraska. Despite the loss, Wilbon rejoined the team for the Homecoming game with Iowa. He spent a great deal of time on ESPN during the third quarter but joined the Best Video Staff in the Big Ten, if not the Nation for a photo opportunity. Wilbon was very generous with his time and was very courteous in taking the picture. Definitely a proud alum who is as nice in person as he appears on television.
 On the banks of Lake Michigan, Ryan Field provided a very scenic backdrop to a beautiful day on Chicago's North Side. The last trip to Evanston for the Hawkeyes was dreary and rainy, but not in 2012.
Our seat on the 50 yard line provided great views on the field as well as the fall scenery.

A Night Game in Kinnick Stadium

Nights of football in Kinnick Stadium aren't a common occurrence. In 1992 the first one of its kind took place when the Miami Hurricane came to town. But games under the lights have become a more regular happening since the Big Ten Network was created in 2006. No more than one night game a year in Iowa City and it usually is a special event. In Kinnick this year it took on additional meaning with the inaugural member of the "ANF" class, Casey Wiegman was inducted. During the farm crisis of the 1980s, then Iowa head coach, Hayden Fry wanted to bring to light the plight of the farmers to the national audience and placed black and gold stickers on the helmet letting everyone know, "America Needs Farmers." Below, Weigman is honored before the game being the son of a farmer, played for Coach Fry and from small town Parkersburg, Iowa.

 Another future inductee served as honorary captain for the night. Robert Gallery, another farmer's son was introduced prior to kick off. He spoke to the team earlier in the day at the team hotel.

In Iowa City for the game were the Insight Bowl hosts for the Hawkeyes while in Arizona the past two years. Steve Leach, Bob Whitehouse and Jeff Smith were also honored before the game and spent time watching from the best seat in college football.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Victory over Michigan State

After an off-week in the season, the Iowa Football team found a way to get to 2-0 in the Legends Division of the Big Ten and be in the driver's seat for the birth in the Big Ten Championship Game. It was a raw, cold, damp day in East Lansing as the Michigan State crowd was little factor in this Big Ten match-up. The stadium was never full, and by the middle of the fourth quarter empty seats were more prevalent than those occupied. But the black and gold clad sitting in the NE corner didn't leave and saw a double OT victory.
 The Michigan State Video Crew has always been one of the crews we enjoy working with in the conference. Matt Harper and Tom Shepherd have always provided good laughs and memories from many game days. In the video world this was a minor monumental day. Each of use XOS Digital's Thunder platform, always found on PC's, but this year a few have tried using it on the Mac platform for increased speed and performance. This is the first game both schools used Macs to get the game edited for coaches to use following the game.
 Around the hotel on Friday night was Hawkeye Legend Rob Houghtlin. He currently lives in Eastern Michigan and drove over to spend some time with his alma mater.
 However the Michigan State Video Staff has been a bit of a thorn to the side of mine and the Iowa Staff. The last two years our fantasy baseball championship has come down to a matchup of me against one of the two. And each year I have been the runner-up to the championship. My frustration was taken out with a bat to Shep's camera.
A highlight for members of the video crew was meeting ESPN's sideline reporter, Jenn Brown. Here Shane Adams and Jeff Nielsen get their picture taken with her.

Night Out on the Town

Every town has that one establishment where all the older men get together, away from the job and home, where the stories are told and then get exaggerated. In East Lansing, that one place would be Arts - the old hangout for the Michigan State Football coaching staff.

Back in 2009 Tom Shepherd, the Video Coordinator for the Spartan Football team took us to where Perles and Parker would hold court after work. It wasn't a fancy place, but one that would be comfortable to older men - smoky, dark and hidden - away from the crowd of the locals.
The beers are about as large as some of the stories that were told, and the pizza as deep as the lies. But this is where the good times were held by the staff.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Off Weekend

Watching ESPN College Game Day I was quick to find out the college game of the day involved the Bulldogs. However it was the Georgia Bulldogs as they defended their #5 ranking on the road at South Carolina, ranked 6th. But another game of the day involved a different Bulldog team. The Drake Bulldogs were taking on the University of San Diego Torerors - a rematch of the defending co-champs of the Pioneer League. Each of these teams came into the contest undefeated in Pioneer League competition, with the winner having a big leg up on the conference crown.
Drake's home game has coincided with our off weekend the last two seasons. Growing up attending Drake football game when the Hawkeyes were on the road, this has become my chance to take my son to their games. A year ago my son and I saw them play Campbell, but this year's matchup had more intriguing story lines going in. The 2011 game had Spike the mascot, this year the real Spike roamed the sideline.
Drake's football coach, Chris Creighton has been in Des Moines for six seasons and his contributions have been greatly felt. Not only have the Bulldogs won or tied for conference titles in many of those years, he has led the team to international play in the summer of 2011 when the travelled to African and play in the Kilamanjaro Bowl. That was part of a two week trip that went beyond a football game. There the Bulldogs team volunteered their time for many projects around the area.
There was much hype leading into the game, but the final score was a letdown. Drake was victorious 38-10 and took advantage of many USD turnovers. The win puts Drake in the driver's seat for the conference crown.
It was Homecoming weekend on the Drake campus. And for the first time was a marching band reunion. Many former band members came back and celebrated the legacy of former marching band director, Don Marcoullier. He led the band and made it one of the elite marching band outfits in the Midwest. Along with performances in front of the home Drake crowd, he would also take them to perform in front of many NFL crowds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Night Out on the Town

As the baseball's regular season closes and the post-season begins it is important to highlight a favorite place of ours in Spring Training Heaven, Don and Charlie's in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A popular place for baseball fans and celebrities, Don and Charlie's is the center of the baseball restaurant world. Memorabilia line the walls from the plethora of signed baseballs, to photos of many major leaguers with Don and Charlie. And it isn't a picture on the wall at each individual table. The walls are simply their to hang the many  different photos, program covers and baseballs. It's a "Who's Who" of baseball and athletics as fans of the many other sports are known to stop by. On our recent Insight Bowl trip to the Valley of the Sun, a member of the traveling party happened to dine at a table adjacent to Milwaukee Brewer announcer, Bob Uecker.
The food is outstanding, too. The ribs are a specialty, but the sandwiches are great too. And as a parent, we appreciate the attention they give to the littlest of little leaguers as our son was treated to a great meal of chicken fingers, and walked out of the restaurant with a Don and Charlie's hat, a special treat of ownership.

I can tell this is the place to be while in Arizona for Spring Training. Nightly you could be seated next to one of many major leaguers, or a great of the past.

Life of a Video Guy

Walking down the hallway inside the Iowa Football Complex I was asked about the recent video exchange among Michigan State and Ohio State. I first heard of the scenario late Saturday night after receiving the newspaper link in a text from my friend, Matt Harper at Michigan State. He filled me in from both sides as he heard much from Mark Quisenberry at Ohio State earlier in the day. Mark called me the next day to make sure I had my facts straight as well as making sure I can continue to trust a guy who has been in the conference for over 10 years without anything like this on his resume.

The story of video being doctored was being accused of by a Michigan State coach to the Ohio State football program. Those who spoke on the matter were coaches of each team. But neither video guy had comment and we were led to believe the story coming from those who didn't have a direct effect on the trade video.
As recently as Monday, Washington State football coach, Mike Leach spoke of their video and how he doesn't "know which buttons to push." He went on to talk about how video has changed, but not in the ways many who share my profession would talk of today. We would discuss how video has evolved with quality through technology. But Leach discussed how the video used to have shots of girls in the stands at different points during the game. But he doesn't give credit where credit is due - to his video guy.

Video guys tend to like their position of being behind the camera, rather than being the focus of attention. Quisenberry and Harper weren't quoted in the article, but they would be the most knowledgeable to speak of the rules of exchange. They could say that the Big Ten Game Management Manual would tell you that all pre-snap shifts, trades and motions must be in the video. Each could also tell you that all teams in the Big Ten shoot their own video.  And each could tell you that we are the lone staff member of each program that needs to work with their opposing video coordinator throughout the year, and shoot next to them on game day. I can't think of any staff member that needs to maintain a professional manner in front of their opponent on game day.

We have our differences, and our ways to get the job done. But if we don't work with one another, neither of us can do our job.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vid Staff Reunion

Having many vid staffers come through in my twenty plus years with the Iowa Football program I'm not sure I could find four guys who became closer friends being part of the staff than the four pictured. Michael Witt, Kyle Yoder, Erick Tjarks and Derek Ambrose have all gone their separate ways since 2010, but all remain good friends to this day. Michael and Derek knew each other in college and shared their love for Iowa Football. Michael started out as a volunteer and earned a spot when one opened. At the same time, he recommended his friend Derek for a position. Kyle and Erick came from different Iowa small towns but were members of the staff in 2009.

Definitely one of the more cohesive and dependable groups I've had at Iowa, they continue to remain close friends. Often I see tweets and Facebook postings going from one to another. Kyle now lives and works in Atlanta. Erick has moved to a Chicago suburb. Michael graduated in May and lives in Iowa. Derek and his overall bibs continue to hang around Iowa City as he finishes up school with a December graduation. He also assists this year's video staff a couple of days a week.