Buccaneers Video Director Dave Levy surveys the growing stacks of college game tapes in his office
Organization is usually the norm in the somewhat cramped office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' video department. Thousands of videotapes go in and out of this room during the season, recordings of practices, Buccaneer games, opponent games, special drills and more. Like books in a library, the tapes are checked in and out of neatly categorized shelves lining each wall of the 12'x28' space.
Walk in that office now, however, and you'd better be prepared to step gingerly. Piles upon piles of videotapes adorn every available counter space and half of the floor; that is, those tapes that are not running nonstop in the dubbing machines.
It's that time of the year again. College highlight tapes.
During the season, the main focus of the video department is game preparation, and the tapes kept on shelves are of NFL subject matter. Now, however, the mountain directly ahead is the NFL draft, and that means Video Director Dave Levy, Assistant Director Pat Brazil and Assistant Chris Bryan are knee deep in NCAA game tapes.
"We get over one thousand (tapes of) games every year," said Levy. "Every NFL team is required to call certain colleges and have those colleges send their games to the Dub Center, which is located at NFL Films (in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey). The Dub Center than copies the tapes and sends a copy to every team in the league."
Those tapes first go into the personnel department offices at the other end of the building, where they are sorted into long sliding shelves in a back hallway, forming a sort of wine cellar for college football connoisseurs. From there, they are borrowed by college scouts who are interested in forming a highlight tape on a particular player.
The scout then retreats to his own assigned video machine and combs through a stack of tapes to form a list of snaps that show off the player in question. That list, along with the stack of tapes, is brought back to the video department, where hours and hours of splicing is performed.
"The scouts go through four or five games on each guy, a few more if the player hasn't played a lot or if they're particularly interested in him," said Levy. "The scout will write down a list of times indicating where the plays featuring that player start. Each highlight tape takes roughly an hour to complete and we'll do at least 150 of them over the next three or four weeks."
Each completed tape is about 10-15 minutes long and includes 30-40 plays. And 'highlight tape' doesn't necessarily mean every minute of footage is filled with diving catches and dazzling runs. Scouts want to use the tapes to give an accurate representation of a prospect's level of play. The finished products that will come out of the video department over the next few weeks may eventually be very important tools in draft-day decision making.
Right now, however, it's a seemingly endless stack of tapes.