Big Ten Countdown: 77 Trombones in the Marching Band.

LINCOLN NB - SEPTEMBER 25: A member of the Nebraska Cornhusker marching band is reflected in her instrument as they perform before the football game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Memorial Stadium on September 25 2010 in Lincoln Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated South Dakota State 17-3. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Well, Nebraska doesn't have 77 trombones (at least not while I was there), but they do have around 290 members.  They are known as the Pride of all Nebraska or the Marching Red.  The band has a series of fight songs with the two most famous being "Hail Varsity" and "There's No Place Like Nebraska" (TD Version). 

They have been around since 1879.  The University was founded in 1869, so the band has been a part of the history of Nebraska almost since the University's inception.  Of course back then they didn't march around on a football field, but there was still a band that played at events.  Nebraska is one of 10 Big Ten Schools to have won the Sudler Trophy (only Minnesota and Wisconsin haven't won it).  The band has visited all of the BCS bowls and has attended numerous non-BCS bowls.

If you are interested in seeing the band before the game, there are a couple different opportunities.  The band practices every morning during the week. Unless it's raining, you can see them at Memorial Stadium around 7:30am.  They also have practice on game day, usually about 5 hours before the game kicks off.  If it's an 11am game, you can probably see them practice around 7am. 

Before each game, they warmup and play their show in front of Kimball recital hall.  This is three to four blocks south of the stadium.  It's very easy to watch the band play and get to the stadium (and your seat) before kickoff.  Speaking of getting to the stadium, the band marches from Kimball to the stadium (down 10th street) about 45 minutes before kickoff. 

As they get close to the stadium, the band breaks into The Band Song and then Hail Varisty.  This youtube video is an example of this march.  It was taken after their week long (one-time-at) band camp.  I have a great one-time-at-band-camp story, but that's for another day.  The band members are kinda fried by this point of the week and it's very informal, but it's a decent example.  Oh and, why is there always this ONE trumpet player that has to play the most god-awful highest possible piece-of-crap sounding note he can muster?  Are they trying to make everyone on the planet crap their pants all at once?

The band plays their pregame "spectacular" about 20 minutes before kickoff.  They run onto the field and play a set of fanfares to introduce themselves and then jump into "There's No Place Like Nebraska."  At halftime, they perform a different show every week.  Unlike the pregame show, though, the half time show tends to focus on the west stadium.  This actually irks a lot of people in the South, North and East stadiums because they can't hear the band as well.  But, the "money" is in the west stadium and money pays the bills.  At the end of the game, the band replays their show from the stands as the fans file out and then the band marches back to Kimball Hall.  Once they return to Kimball, the band closes out the day with their version of "In heaven there is no beer," followed by one last round of Hail Varsity.

 

 

Being a band geek has its perks, though.  I saw every home game between 1996 and 1998.  We road tripped to K-State in 1996 (great game) and 1998 (I thought I'd lose my head that day) and Missouri 1997 (you know how that turned out).  I also got two trips to the Orange Bowl and a trip to the Holiday Bowl.  All on the University's dime.  This is kind of a bad movie, but I thought I'd share it. 

After you push play, you'll see the same image for a few seconds before it starts to move.  I'm the guy that shows up on the right out of nowhere when the VISA ad pops up.  Yes, my glasses were huge and the girls had fun with my long hair before the game.  This was the Orange Bowl after the 1997 season where we stomped Peyton Manning and Tennessee.  Husker fans were outnumber by Tennessee fans by about a 2-to-1 ratio, but by mid 3rd quarter, most of the orange was out of the stadium.  At least we could beat one burnt orange team that starts with a "T".

 

 

Get accustomed to the band Big Ten fans.  You're going to learn to hate Hail Varsity and No PlaceMarch of the Cornhusker is only worth three points (field goal song), but it still works.  And in case you want to hear the other official (Pre-Game) fight songs, you can hear March Grandioso (fan favorite) and Mr. Touchdown USA/March of the Cornhusker.

On a final note, some of the small band details may not be completely accurate.  It was 15 years ago, though!

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