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Utes' video library 'packed' with scouting footage after conference switch

Published August 26, 2011 8:40 pm

Transition from MWC to Pac-12 has kept U.'s video crew on its toes.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The University of Utah's transition from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 has been fraught with challenges. For the most part, it's all been about finances — finding a way to maximize Utah's athletic budgets until the school begins receiving its full Pac-12 revenue shares in three years.

But the Utes also have been making a huge transition in the football offices — shifting their focus from a set of MWC opponents they faced annually for a decade to a group of Pac-12 foes they either haven't played or competed against only occasionally in recent years.

"We knew what was coming," Utah video coordinator Todd Campbell said.

Campbell is at the nexus of a massive scouting overhaul. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham assigned each of his assistant coaches to compile preliminary scouting reports on every Pac-12 team. But it is Campbell's video crew that has absorbed the brunt of the scouting burden, compiling exhaustive video dossiers on everybody from Arizona to Washington State.

Now, the good news.

Thanks to the technology now available to him and his staff, Campbell says transforming a video library previously built around Mountain West Conference opponents to one focused on Utah's new rivals "hasn't been too difficult."

Only a few years ago, such a job would have been tremendously difficult and time-consuming.

But no longer.

"I remember, when I first started this job, we had to cut up 16-millimeter tape and splice it all together," recalled Whittingham. "Now it's all computerized. You push a button and there it is."

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow has coached 20 years longer than Whittingham.

"The way modern technology is — and I don't understand 90 percent of it — it's easy for us to get film," he said.

"You used to cut it up and everything would get screwed up. But now, there's almost too much information. You almost have to pick and choose where you want to go with it all."

When Campbell worked at East Carolina, he remembers many late-night, two-hour drives to the airport in Raleigh, where he would drop off film bound for other schools or pick up film opponents sent the Pirates' coaching staff.

"I'm amazed, really, that more drowsy video guys weren't killed in car wrecks," Campbell said. "We used to drive all over, in the middle of the night. Thankfully, the technology has made life simpler."

A BYU graduate, Campbell got his first job at Weber State, where an internship turned into a four-year stay.

After moving to Washington State, Campbell "was a little burned out" and briefly got out of college athletics.

He soon returned, however, and worked at Maryland, East Carolina and Boise State before taking a job at Utah in 2006.

"We get whatever we want, when we want it," said Whittingham. "He's as good as there is at his job."

Campbell's peers named him the Western Athletic Conference video coordinator of the year once when he was at Boise State. Last year, he won the Mountain West version of the honor, meaning Utah's video coordinator is "going for a trifecta in the Pac-12," Whittingham says.

According to Campbell, his plans to build Utah's new video library began last February, when he began "exchanging stuff" with a handful of his soon-to-be colleagues in the Pac-12.

Last spring, all of the Pac-12's video coordinators met in Las Vegas and Campbell was formally introduced the conference's unique system for exchanging information.

"They have a centralized server, where everybody unloads everything," Campbell said. "That goes on on a week-by-week basis. ...

"It was a little scramble for me, getting two years' worth of stuff on there for them. But it was just a matter of downloading it all — time-consuming."

By the time Utah officially joined the Pac-12 on July 1, Campbell said, "I had my stuff in there, waiting for the coaches to look at."

The Utes open the season against Montana State before their first-ever Pac-12 game at Southern Cal on Sept. 10.

While Whittingham and his players have primarily focused on the Bobcats, each assistant was asked to do a preliminary scouting report on one Pac-12 opponent.

Essentially, said Ute secondary coach Morgan Scalley, the task was to compile offense, defense and special teams schemes and tendencies for each Pac-12 team.

Scalley added: "Coach Whittingham is one-game-at-a-time guy, but he knows this is a different situation. We got those scouting reports done early, before [preseason] camp, so we could focus on what we needed to in camp."

Thanks to Campbell, all the information "except a little special team stuff" was at their fingertips as soon as they received the assignment.

Said Chow: "We have a great video room and, the way the Pac-12 sets it up, we always have film available to us."

Coaches are known for the long hours they work, the time-consuming nature of their job and the commitment it requires.

Same thing with video coordinators.

That's why Campbell feels partly responsible for every Ute victory and for every loss.

It's not surprising, then, that his most memorable moment at Utah was its 31-17 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 2009.

"For that game," Campbell said, "I let my students shoot up top, and I shot highlights down on the field. ...

"Seeing the players and the coaches — how happy they were and how much all the work had paid off for them — that was just great."

Reporter Lya Wodraska contributed to this report. —

Scouting expedition

Utah's coaching and support staffs were busy this past spring and summer in creating scouting information on each of the Utes' 2011 Pac-12 opponents, as well as Oregon and Stanford — the two conference teams not on their regular-season schedule. Assistant coaches were tasked with doing what was described as "a basic scouting report" on each conference foe. They were bolstered by the Utah football video staff, which collected two years' worth of game film of each Pac-12 team. And that was a lot easier than it used to be. "Now it's all computerized," says Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "You push a button and there it is."