Yes, they’d heard about the Dramatic Chipmunk thing Minnesota was doing. And yes, they had thought about doing something similar, just because when you have a 190 x 57 weapon like that, it’d almost be a shame not to.
But believe it or not, Super Nova was totally spur of the moment.
The idea technically traces back to primitive 2014. They were working the AHSAA Super 7 thing in December, and someone zoomed in on the eagle, which even on a puny 71 x 28.5 board looked intimidating. If they wanted a graphic to do something with on the coming Apocatron, that—a super-tight eagle close-up— might be something, someone suggested.
Having a specific go-to graphic would something fun, something new, something the crowd could get behind. But Auburn’s gameday video board operators have actually been doing subtle stuff to distract opposing kickers for a while.
“On the old board, we would zoom in on the kicker’s eyes,” says Andrew Young, AU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Video Services. “But most people never noticed we did that.”
The eagle eyes they noticed.
In fact, of all the sonic sensations and watchable wonderment of the video board’s debut, Young says the most feedback, all of it positive, has been about the eagle. And it was purely improvised.
When the camera capturing Saturday morning’s pregame footage from the field caught another tight shot of Nova, they paused it. Everyone remembered the “What If…” discussion from December. They screencapped it.
“Save that for later,” director Michael Sullivan said.
How later? What for? Who knew—maybe for a later game, maybe for a later test. Just for fun. Just for kicks.
Kicks. Exactly. Why wait?
“When we got to our first kick (Sullivan) said ‘hey, give me the eagle shot,'” Young says.
It wasn’t on the script, but it was available, sitting there on the computer, a click away. It was so good—so good maybe it’d be no good?
Jacksonville State’s Connor Rouleau lined up. Nova popped up. It was surely the biggest eagle face ever displayed on the face of the earth. Straight out of Mysterious Island. People pointed, laughed, clicked, tweeted.
Rouleau, amazingly, was unfazed. He nailed it. (The Gamecocks, you may have heard, came to play.)
The next time, however, when he was expecting it, he missed. Maybe it was the Raptor Factor, the Predatory Pixels. Or maybe it was the 50 yards. It’s hard to say.
Young says they’ve flashed wilder, more distracting graphics at Auburn’s Daniel Carlson during practice, and he hasn’t missed a single kick.
“I don’t know if it necessarily distracts a kicker,” Young says, “but I guess it can maybe help your team.”
Will they continue experimenting?
“That’s a good question,” Young says. “Trust me, we’ve talked about a lot of things, had a lot of ideas. I don’t know if we’ll do that (the eagle) every time. There are different things we may do.”
And different things they definitely won’t.
Like, if they really, really wanted a kicker to miss, there are, you know, ways. Apparently flicking all the lights on full blast—video board, ribbons, everything—for just a second temporarily blinds you, even in the daytime.
Effective, but unsportsmanlike.
“We’ve gotten a lot of fan feedback (about ideas for distracting the kicker), and from our own staff and crew,” Young says. “But in the name of sportsmanship you just don’t do certain things.”
But in the name of humor, feel free to keep suggesting them, Auburn fans.
“I saw some websites and places that were recommending things that could be done,” Young says. “We were laughing at all of them.”
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