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University of Georgia: Bulldogs on the Big Screen

Students and faculty at the University of Georgia love the Bulldogs, their acclaimed football team. “When the school reinvented their sports complex in February 2011, one idea was to put TVs everywhere,” says Clark Williams, Football Assistant Video Coordinator. They decided to focus on the players as well as the public. “We’ve got a screen out front as a welcome to visitors, with highlights of previous games, etc.” But the real digital signage deployment was for the team and football staff themselves at the athletics building. “We use it in so many different ways,” says Williams. “We put up the schedule, weather, a clock, motivational videos – with things like the stats of opponents.”

“It’s everywhere – we have displays in the hallways, the lobbies, the weight room, on plasmas in the coaches’ offices. We also have nine meeting rooms and when they have a meeting scheduled, I’ll ask them what they want up on the screens.” This widespread deployment has rapidly moved the Bulldogs into the 21st century. “There just wasn’t anything like this before,” Williams says. “They used to take newspaper clippings about the opposing team and put them up in the locker room.”

Williams uses many of AxisTV’s capabilities to get a multimedia message out to the team’s players and staff. Displays are often in a “three-stack” with the top screen being the main display for schedules, the bottom one showing practice and game highlights, and the middle one with a countdown clock showing how long until the next game. “The countdown clock is a really big thing – it keeps everyone focused on the next big challenge.”

Williams runs the system “pretty much on my own. I’m constantly out there updating info, getting quotes from rivals, news, whatever I can.” When making videos, he uses Final Cut and exports them to AxisTV as wmv files. Williams may run the digital signage system, but he wants everyone to feel ownership. “I have an open-door policy – anyone can critique and come in and suggest things to include on the screens. I’m always talking to the staff about motivation and asking what I can do to boost morale.” Additional content includes a Player of the Week and highlights of players who get on the academic honor roll.

Another useful component of his communications strategy is the schedule. “There’s always going to be some guy who’s late to practice or a meeting. But with the schedule constantly up, there’s really no excuse. He’s passed by 15 TVs that all tell him when he’s supposed to be somewhere.”

If it is true, as Knute Rockne said, that football is a game played “mostly from the neck up,” then Williams is certainly doing everything he can to get in the team’s heads and keep them on track. “The vision is to support these guys and get them energized.” He keeps content fresh yet relevant – an always-changing mosaic of stats, quotes and hard information. “It’s very dynamic – like football itself,” he says.