|Behind the scenes of LSU Football's high-tech video team|
During the season, it's not unusual for Les Miles and his assistants to clock in at 7 a.m. and work until midnight. The bulk of that time is spent, not on the practice field or in the weight room, but with a remote control in hand, watching video playback.
Down the hall from the coaches' offices inside the expansive LSU Football headquarters and practice facility lies the nerve center of the entire program: a proficient video editing operation that serves as a hub for scouting opponents, analyzing Tiger performances, harvesting and organizing a jet stream of statistics and collecting highlights to create the next boiling wave of breathless hype.
At the helm sits Doug Aucoin, college football's 2010 National Video Director of the Year and a four-time SEC winner of the award.
“It's an honor, but it feels strange accepting it for something that doesn't feel like a job,” the New Orleans native says. “I do what I do because I love it. It's not really work to me.”
Maybe that's because Aucoin literally grew up doing this.
In 1967, the newly minted New Orleans Saints hired his father, Erby Aucoin Jr., as the NFL's first full-time film director. The elder Aucoin worked with the Saints through 1986, and by the time Doug turned 14, he was attending training camp and filming practices.
“Just a little summer job,” Aucoin says with a laugh.
In college, Aucoin led the video department at Tulane University, and he has been the director of LSU's video operations since the Gerry DiNardo era.
Aucoin's world has its own unique language and slang.
“Tendencies” are what he's looking for in an opponent's footage. “Motivationals” are those closely guarded hard-hitting clips that pump players up before games and, occasionally, make their way online to tantalize fans.
Alex Barras is a graduate student who cuts together these clips, often called hype videos.
Through a secure cloud-based app called Huddle, players and coaches can log in and view “motivationals” any time, from anywhere. “It's Miles' message, but the players' music,” Barras says. “They tell us what songs to use.”
Next to a door that protects the entire athletic department's servers in a self-sufficient room equipped with battery-back-up generators—the department learned its lesson from Hurricane Gustav—is a small white board with two succinct directives: Steelers offense for Mett. Chargers offense for Rivers.
Aucoin's work is not limited to the college ranks, and his team's late-night hours during the season produce a vast cache of interactive, multimedia statistics sheets and reports.
It's an intense job, one dependent on Aucoin's eye for detail and penchant for extreme organization. His only regret is that he does not see his family as much as he would like during the long seasons.
With a legion of gear and digital assets at his disposal, Aucoin is tasked with making the process of presenting statistics and video analysis as efficient as possible for Miles and his large staff ?of assistants.
Aucoin and a video team of six travel for road games, too.
Using their own footage and feeds from closed-circuit and broadcast cameras, they begin editing each game as it is being played.
Minutes after the final buzzer has sounded, Aucoin has videos cut and ready for offense, defense and special teams to analyze.
Saved to SD cards, the videos are pushed to smart phones and tablets for players and coaches to view on the plane ride home.
Long before game time is practice time, though, and before practice comes months of data collection from an incredible array of sources.
In the first few months of 2012, Aucoin had already collected and catalogued “tendencies,” statistics and footage of every game that SEC newcomers Texas A&M and Missouri played during the 2011 season.
For practice, Aucoin deploys up to 10 student workers, most armed with video cameras to track the action on the field. They follow the plays. They run the sidelines. They ride scissor lifts two stories up into the sky for aerial views.
“Coaches watch every stitch of that video,” Aucoin says. “No one has any concept of how many hours they put in on a game plan. Sometimes it's not evident when you watch the game, but it always amazes me. There is no question that no stone goes left unturned. I can promise you that.”
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