Tim Collins (at the camera) is in his 14th year as the video systems technician for Notre Dame football.  Steve Horvath (left) has worked with the Irish video staff since 1958.

Film At Eleven

Oct. 8, 2004

by Chris Masters

When the final gun sounds on Saturday, Tim Collins’ job will just be getting started.

Now in his 14th year as the full-time video systems technician for the Notre Dame athletics department, Collins is in charge of all video and filming needs for the Irish football, basketball and hockey teams. In addition to filming all Notre Dame football games and practices, he is responsible for compiling all of the video packages used by the Irish football coaches in their scouting and game preparation.

A native of South Bend, Collins first began working at Notre Dame on a part-time basis in 1988 following his graduation from Adams High School. That first year turned out to be a pretty good one for the Irish, who went undefeated and claimed the school’s 11th national championship. At the time, the Notre Dame video department still shot many of the football team’s practices and games on a mix of VHS tape and 16-millimeter film.

“Back then, it would take us the better part of a day to get the film edited and ready for the coaches to view,” Collins says. “I was pretty well-versed in VHS and Beta filming, which we started to use in 1988, so it made the transition a little smoother for us.”

Besides his part-time duties at Notre Dame, Collins spent three years as a news photographer at WNDU-TV in South Bend. When the Irish athletic department came calling with a full-time position, he quickly accepted and soon settled into his small office tucked under the stands at Notre Dame Stadium.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to go to work at Notre Dame Stadium each day,” he says. “Being here for as long as I have, sometimes you take for granted what a special place Notre Dame is, but it has come to mean more and more to me as I get older.”

Under Collins’ guidance, the Notre Dame athletics video department has evolved into a state-of-the-art operation, complete with enough new technology and computer equipment to put several NFL teams to shame. Using Sony Betacam SX cameras, Collins and his six-person crew employ a full non-linear editing system that allows complete film of a game or practice to be downloaded to a computer and ready for use within one hour. In fact, once the film’s contents are placed on a computer hard drive, the videotape itself will no longer exist, a feature that would have been nearly unthinkable 15 years ago.

Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, who has worked at both the college and professional levels, says Collins plays a critical role in the Irish football program.

“Tim is not only our director of video operations, but he also serves as our liaison on computer-related issues,” Willingham notes. “He is an invaluable member of our department’s staff and I know our coaches truly appreciate the contributions he has made to the success of our program.”

Steve Horvath, a part-time member of the Notre Dame video staff since 1958, says Collins’ professional demeanor sets him apart.

“He does such a great job keeping everything organized and prepared,” Horvath observes. “Tim is a good guy to work for because he’s so straightforward and direct with you.”

Willingham and Horvath are just two of the many individuals who understand the importance of Collins’ contributions to the Irish athletic department. This past June, the Notre Dame Monogram Club recognized Collins for his years of service by awarding him an honorary monogram. It was an honor that took the 35-year-old by surprise.

“There are people who work here all their lives and don’t receive something as big as that,” Collins says. “I was shocked when I found out about it, because I thought you had to be retired first.”

So when the Notre Dame players walk to the student section following Saturday’s game, and raise their helmets in a gilded salute, remember that they are not only honoring their fellow classmates and supporters, but also the hard work of people like Tim Collins who made this weekend’s performance possible.