A special team behind the scenes
Getting paid to attend every Iowa football game, sharing hallways and casual banter with coaches in Jacobson Athletic Building, and getting to know the student-athletes who make up the roster may seem like a dream job to many Hawkeye football fans.
But for Mike Moriarity, it's full-time workand then some. As director of video productions for UI Intercollegiate Athletics, he is at every football game, home and away, operating a high-angle camera from the press box. At Kinnick Stadium, this footage is fed to the JumboTron, the scoreboard run by a freelance crew working from a trailer adjacent to the stadium.
The workday doesn't end, however, when the game clock runs out. Within an hour and a half, Moriarity and his assistant Jerry Palmer shoot and edit Iowa Football with Kirk Ferentz, a weekly television show featuring the head coach with commentator Gary Dolphin. Iowa is one of only a handful of schools across the nation that produces such a television show in-house.
"Saturday is a long day for us," Moriarity says. "I'm here four hours before kickoff, and afterwards I edit game footage and tape the TV show. Then I come in on Sunday to add the final touches, dropping in the Play of the Game and various graphics. At 8 p.m., either Jerry or I uplink the program to satellite so that TV stations can access it."
On Monday, prep work begins on the next contest. The staff works on highlight videos, features, and commercials to be shown on the JumboTron. They also collect footage from the team's previous meeting with the upcoming opponent and, if the game is at Kinnick, they update the squad's "entrance video," a short animated feature shown before the players take the field.
In addition to their work with Iowa football, the video production staff, which also includes a part-time student employee, produces videos available for public viewing at the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame and assists various media outlets seeking footage of UI sports. During basketball season, they produce a weekly television show with men's basketball head coach Steve Alford.
"I'm in touch on a fairly regular basis with the National Football League and the National Basketball Association," Moriarity says. "They want clips of Iowa playersperhaps footage of someone they may want to draft or an Iowa graduate who is on their rosterand we in turn will get images of former Hawkeyes who are playing professionally."
The video production office maintains an archive of film dating back to the 1920s, and the staff is in the process of transferring it to video and DVD. When ESPN was working on programs about Heisman Trophy winner and UI graduate Nile Kinnick and former head wrestling coach Dan Gable for its "SportsCentury" series, Moriarity and his staff provided Iowa footage.
"Although our work is pretty much consumed by football and basketball, we do shoot video of other Iowa sports. We always want to have material available," he says.
"The exposure that football, men's and women's basketball, and wrestling, in particular, give to the University is very important. If anything, it gets Iowa's name out there. National television gets the University into everyone's living rooms, and that's exposure that you can't put a price tag on."
Another important member of this behind-the-scenes team is video coordinator Matt Engelbert. He and a staff of one full-time assistant and several part-time student employees prepare scouting videos for Iowa coaches to use in their instruction. Before each contest, Engelbert says, opposing teams exchange an equal number of recent games on tape.
"We break down the videos play by play to help the coaches teach the players, help them gain an advantage."
When the season is over, they work on "self-scouting," which entails combing through footage from various games and practices and presenting coaches with 75 to 80 scenarios.
"For example, we'll look at how the team did against a certain formation. What were our tendencies? What worked? What didn't?" Engelbert explains. "Then there's spring ball. There are 15 practices before the spring game, and we take four cameras to each one."
Having been a Hawkeye fan since childhood, Engelbert says he enjoys being able to watch football 365 days a year. He has worked in the office since he was a UI student in 1989, and he was named Big Ten Conference Video Coordinator of the Year in 1997.
Although the recent success of the team has been rewarding, he insists he and his staff always enjoy coming to work.
"If I wasn't having fun when our record was one and 10, I wouldn't be here now," he says. "We have a great staff, great coaches, and great athletes."
"I like going to games and the whole college sports environment, and I enjoy being around the students. College football players often are unfairly stereotyped as prima donnas, but most are really good people who have demanding schedules. They're good kids and they're fun to be around."
Like Engelbert, Moriarity considers himself a football fan but also notes that he has to control his emotions at the games.
"I can't be jumping up and down because I don't want the camera to shake. There has been a lot of drama this season with big last-second plays, but I can't get swept up in it all."
Article by Sara Epstein Moninger