While I normally reserve this blog for more personal entries, I hope you’ll indulge me as I bid farewell to my role as videoboard producer at Auburn University.
In 2007, as a 23 year old UGA grad, I was given the chance to help design, install & then produce the SEC’s first high definition video production.
As soon as I arrived in Auburn, I knew it was a special opportunity. The pressure started building early, as students I talked to could recount shot-for-shot and song-for-song the intro videos that had previously played in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn has long been known for its killer pregame, eagle flight & all, but no matter who I talked to, I always got the same feeling. I’ve seen a lot of stadium pregames & productions, but Auburn was different. These people actually cared. A lot.
Early in the days of AUHD, I held a preseason meeting with our crew to develop a mission statement. As an ice breaker, everyone was given a penny. We went around the room and told a story about something that happened in our lives the same year that our penny was made.
Some memories were good, some were bad, but they were all memorable moments in the crew’s lives. We went on to decide the following…
“It is the mission of the AUHD Crew to provide memorable moments (“pennies”) to Auburn fans through a clean, professional & ever-improving gameday production.”
Last weekend, 4 years later, against my alma mater, I was set to produce my last Auburn football game. I’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve come a long way as a crew & a production, but I don’t really know where to begin.
My first game in ’07 had to be the worst…our installation crew was working on 2 hours of sleep per night the week leading up to that game. We somehow made it through the game, but nobody told me the Auburn orange looked Georgia red on the videoboard until I finally woke up the following Tuesday. At least the video got good reviews.
The ’08 LSU game stands out because of the intro video “rewind” we did to bring back “Ladies and Gentlemen” as the intro song. This was also the season we realized that we could make a few tweaks to our wireless camera & show Tiger Walk LIVE to the folks already in the stadium.
Another penny goes to Game 1 in ’09 when our video server crashed 30 seconds into the tunnel video. We were able to switch to the backup server in about a second, only because we’d practiced that exact scenario a hundred times a few days earlier. My sister, sitting in the student section, teared up when she saw the video freeze because she knew how important the intros are to us.
And who can forget the rain game vs. West Virginia. The student section didn’t flinch & Coach Chizik’s post-game quote is a major part of this year’s tunnel video. My high-endzone camera guy’s shoes still aren’t dry.
But this year has been more special than any of them. And it all built up into an epic final home game.
The turnout at Tiger Walk was crazy & when Cam Newton entered the stadium the students went nuts. The roar of the crowd when Cam’s headshot appeared as the last player introduced during starting lineups was awesome.
The video the Auburn Network guys put together for Bo Jackson’s 25th Anniversary of the Heisman, then the eagle flight. The band entrance & the chill-inducing flyover. The tunnel video, followed by the team runout. The inspiration video led by a Pat Dye quote from ’89. And of course, the game.
Some of my favorite moments included the replay of Cam knocking Trooper off the sideline with his post-touchdown chest bump and the “Get it Tubas” sign shown during the band’s rendition of “Word Up.”
But one of the most special moments I can recall in AUHD history happened during the 3rd quarter. Shortly after Michael Dyer broke Bo’s freshman rushing record, we showed a graphic to that effect, with a closeup of Dyer. Dyer saw himself on the board, read the graphic & started to get excited. Then we found Bo. He had just read the graphic and was looking for Dyer.
As our camera saw them embrace on the sideline, the texts and tweets started coming in. I knew that we were a part of something special. AUHD isn’t just a bunch of tiny pixels making up a giant video screen. It’s not our fancy cameras, or our mostly student crew. It’s not my production, or my crew’s production, or an Auburn Athletics production. It’s so much larger than the sum of its parts.
AUHD is the players, the students, the alumni, the fans–the Auburn Family.
Once the final whistle blew and we hit play on our post-game season highlight video, the celebration continued. I even broke my headset, I was so caught up in the excitement.
As the night drew to a close, the crew took over my normal post-game meeting to give me my first “game tape” (an AUHD Crew tradition). I couldn’t help but tear up as they handed me a jar of pennies and went around the room recounting stories from our last 4 years together, each person adding another penny to the jar as they went.
As I hang up my (now broken) headset and move on to the next chapter of my life, I want to thank you, Auburn, for letting me be a small part of such an amazing family. As much as it pains the UGA grad inside me to say it,
I believe in Auburn and love it. War Damn Eagle.