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July 18, 2004

Digital Video: The Future Is Now (Until Tomorrow)

FROM THOSE COMPUTER-SAVVY DIGITAL VIDEO GUYS comes word of the latest bells and whistles in the digital video system breakdown world.

Even for video coordinators—let alone everyone else in football—it is very difficult to keep abreast of the newest, the latest and the best. With technology leap-frogging itself at a dizzying pace, it takes a lot of know how and diligence to get the right system for the right price. And without it becoming obsolete tomorrow.

The video gurus at the University of West Virginia are currently claiming bragging rights for the absolute most state-of-the-art system in all of college football.

Even to the uninitiated, the specs sound quite impressive:

• the same system can be used for several teams: football, basketball, soccer, etc.

• tapes of games and practices can be quickly broken down and distributed to workstations and laptops

• portability: coaches can now take video with them on the road recruiting

• capability to download video onto external hard drives for exchanges

• capability to capture video from the cameras onto laptops, so coaches can be handed their laptop as they come off the field (with the practice video already on it)

• a feature to zoom in and magnify one area (a big help for position coaches)

• a telestrator, allowing the coach to draw right on the screen

• efficient method of indexing and breaking down plays

• the ability to trade an external hard drive with the game to several opponents who have compatible systems

The system cost approximately $400,000, of which $250,000 was footed by a private donor.

West Virginia’s previous system had less capability (less storage, no portability) but cost more. It was purchased for $750,000 in 1997.

Video coordinator Dusty Rutledge said that the WVU system would be the largest in the country. He’s nervous because the timetable for implementation is getting tight.

“If it doesn't work, I'll be pumping gas down at Sheetz,” Rutledge said.

(this 331 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from a 1055 word article from the WVU BlueGoldNews.com of 7-15-04)