by Duane Cochran for FightingFalcons.com
Football game days aren't quite the same at Fairmont State University now.
The school unveiled its brand new state-of-the-art scoreboard at Duvall-Rosier Field on Sept. 22 and christened it in fine fashion with a 25-20 victory over visiting West Liberty and had it working in overdrive on Saturday in a wild 49-32 win over West Virginia Wesleyan.
The scoreboard, which features an 11-foot high by 19-foot wide LED video screen, has changed the game-day experience for fans and players alike with stunning graphics and replays.
“I really like the scoreboard,” said FSU senior cornerback Ryland Newman. “I know all of us really appreciate Brickstreet being the sponsor for it. We've been long overdue to get a new scoreboard and now we've got a state-of-the-art scoreboard with video replays, cool graphics and everything. It's really, really nice.”
Fairmont State junior receiver C.J. Goodwin has had plenty of highlights to be shown on the board in FSU's two games at Duvall-Rosier Field this season. After those thrilling plays, Goodwin is able to see the replay of them on the big screen.
“That scoreboard is beautiful isn't it?” said Goodwin with a huge smile. “I'm so glad this is my first year playing and we've got a top of the line scoreboard like that with video, replays and everything. That's first class. It's big time.”
Indeed it is, and a number of individuals at Fairmont State helped make something that started as a dream come to fruition. Dr. Fred Fidura, the interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement, helped secure funding for the new scoreboard from Brickstreet Insurance and earlier this year traveled with FSU Director of Athletics Rusty Elliott and media systems engineer Jeff Miller to St. Louis in January to view a demo of the board they would eventually purchase in action at a high school.
Miller, who specializes in the field of audio and visual technology, runs the video board at FSU's home games. In essence, he's the so-called wizard behind the curtain.
“It's all digital and run by a computer,” said Miller. “It's essentially a virtual television production switch on a computer. All of my camera possibilities are shown on there, all of the transitions are selectable and all of the football animations and graphics such as first down, touchdown, defense and crowd invigorating and participation graphics are there and are all selectable.
“It also allows us to have the ability to import our own content such as specific Fairmont State graphics, local commercials for businesses and funny little clips from movies like Animal House and Anchor Man. Technically it's a very user-friendly interface for me. I feel real comfortable with the board.”
Miller has two assistants, Zach Alderson and Evan Chapman, who alternate working with him on game days. Their sole responsibility is to record every play so that if it is deemed replay worthy it can be shown again on the big screen.
Ironically when Miller runs the video board from the FSU press box his back is to the football field, thus he relies heavily on Fairmont State athletics video coordinator Roger Hayhurst, who has three cameras dedicated to just the video for the scoreboard and two others which film for the coaches and the school's live webcast on the internet.
“Roger is basically my spotter and he keeps me in the game as much as I need to be,” said Miller. “We communicate through headsets and our communication has gone very well. He does a great job of controlling the cameras and telling them to zoom in or zoom out or to get this shot or that shot.
“We had a very short period of time to get ourselves ready to run the board before our first game and considering that we basically only had a few days I think we all felt that things for the most part went well. We had some glitches early on, but I don't think they were widely noticed by people other than ourselves. By the second half we had things running pretty smoothly.”
“My main job during the games is to direct the cameras and keep Jeff abreast of what he needs to know like first downs and things like that,” said Hayhurst. “One thing about the situation here is I think we've got a great team with Jeff, Adam Zundell, myself and everyone who is assisting us. If any one of us tried to do this alone it would have been nearly impossible, but with the knowledge that we bring to the table collectively – Jeff with his outstanding technical knowledge, me with my production knowledge and Adam who kind of oversees the whole thing, it works very well.
“We didn't have much time to put everything together and pull this off and we really came together as a team and got it done in that first game. We did have a few minor glitches, but I don't think they were noticed outside of our control room. I think, for the most part, we provided the fans and the players with an enhanced game-day experience which is the ultimate goal. And I think that experience is only going to get better the more that we do it.”
Zundell, who is Fairmont State's Director of Sports Information and Marketing, says the new scoreboard gives the university an excellent vehicle with which it can promote itself, its athletes and potentially in the future can be a revenue producer for the school.
“Our goal is to try to make it an enhanced game-day experience not only for the people in the seats and the players but even potential recruits,” said Zundell. “Imagine having recruits here and showing them what all we can do with the video screen. It's a great selling feature and a good recruiting tool for us.
“Doing all of this in the short period of time we had to do it in was a big challenge. Fortunately, though, we've got some very knowledgeable and talented individuals on this campus like Jeff and Roger who made the transition for us a really smooth one.”
FSU will be back in action this weekend at Duvall-Rosier Field against Seton Hill at 2 p.m. It's FSU's Homecoming, which means many alumni will be pleasantly surprised with the new view at the stadium.