Editor's Note: This is part THREE of a four part mini-series put together by one of your fellow community members, kungfusquirrel (@kungfusquirrel). Please enjoy!
2004 Husker Tunnel Walk vs Kansas (via AaronGonzalez21)
- Debut: Sept. 4, 2004 (Western Illinois)
- Record: 4-2
We open with a red spark, each flash accompanied by an electric zap and the shape of an N highlighted in red I-beams. As the music kicks in, we see a live action Bill Callahan in front of CG scaffolding holding the "Blueprint for Championships" and surveying the scene. We cut to a shot from behind with another construction scene in front of him as cranes are raising TV screens into a large tower. These screens display Husker highlights with buzzword headings such as "ATTITUDE," DETERMINATION," "LEADERSHIP," "TRADITION, and "DESTINY." We pull back, and sure enough, this is a fourth Sears Trophy under construction, flanked by the other three Sears trophies and the two Grantland Rice trophies. The camera then pushes forward to a large screen on the center of the trophy, where we find a former Husker in the NFL standing in front of a brick wall haphazardly spray painted with his name and team. Said Husker brandishes a sledgehammer, and smashes through the visiting team's logo. We push through the tunnel where we see the same generic buzzwords hung from shoddy and off-kilter banners along the back wall (but, thankfully, no live action fans). The team emerges from behind the "2004 HUSKERS" door.
There's really not much to say about this video that it doesn't say about itself. Callahan looks confused and lost, unsure where he is or what he's supposed to do. Labeling the highlights has the same buzzword-y tone as 2002 (even repeating a couple of them!) and displaying them again on cheap looking banners in the tunnel is simply pathetic. All due respect to former Huskers and the success they've found in the NFL, but the production value of their appearance is on par with a MAC or Sun Belt video intro.
Oh yeah, and those blueprints? Look closely - they're blank.
- Callahan's appearance is the first and only appearance by a current coach in non-archival or live footage.
- The red sparks are the first attempt at replacing the rotating white flashes that featured from 94-02.
2005 Tunnel Walk (via neks4nebraska)
- Debut: Sept. 3, 2005 (Maine)
- Record: 5-2
Callahan's second season opens with a bizarre twist – we begin at the doors to the locker room, which open as we zip through the hall as Cory Ross leads the team in the pregame prayer. After going through another locker room door, we cut to live action video of the team huddled around for the "DAY BY DAY" call and response. After the finish, it's back to a CG hallway and we start moving back out of the locker room, stopping at a trophy case to witness an old Nebraska highlight (with radio call). We pass under the horseshoe and look at another picture on the wall, zooming in to a CG pan of the west stadium exterior, complete with a hilariously amateurish CG version of the normally beautiful "not the victory but the action" text engraved along the balcony.
The camera now circles around the press box and enters the field over the south stadium to reveal the opposing helmet at the 50 yard line. The ground rumbles and "THE POWER OF RED" rises out of the ground, then the word "NEBRASKA" falls, crushing the helmet. We fly back toward the locker room for a third time, with yet another lame looking banner hanging next to the door, "2005 Nebraska Football."
It's better than 2004... but that's not saying much. Including the pregame prayer is a good idea in principle, but the recording quality and mix is poor enough quality that it doesn't hold up. Remember what I said about recording crowds in a studio? The same is true when you make football players do scripted things on camera. This just doesn't have the energy of a real game day version. Everything else in this video is generic, and don't even get me started on the desperate attempt to introduce another marketing slogan – first "Husker Nation," now "The Power of Red." Thankfully this one would die off more quickly.
- This is the first use of the pregame prayer in the Tunnel Walk
- The horseshoe features for the first and only time, as this is the only Tunnel Walk to come from the inside of the stadium.
Tunnel Walk 2006 Colorado. (via Nebraska24GBR)
- Debut: Sept. 2, 2006 (Louisiana Tech)
- Record: 6-1
2006 marked the completion of the north stadium expansion, and with it one of the largest video screens in the country and a sound system to match. Would this year's Tunnel Walk live up to it?
Boom. TRADITION. DOMINANCE. RESURGENCE. The 2006 season opens with a bang, a dramatic and powerful hit as an epic orchestral score plays underneath a Husker highlight reel. We see highlights from previous weeks, as Nebraska players in the locker room speaking of what it means to play for Nebraska, culminating in each of them saying, "I play for Nebraska."
Then Keith Jackson shows up. Whoa nelly. We cut to a live shot of fans at the northwest corner of the field and pan down to a closed gate (another new addition from the renovation), behind which the team will emerge from their new digs in the north stadium.
There's a power and energy to the 2006 version that the Tunnel Walk never had before, and in the right circumstances – such as on a cold October day with the Texas Longhorns in town – the atmosphere is absolutely electric. This intro highlights the distinction between hollow slogans – meaningless words like "ATTITUDE" and "TEAMWORK" – and words that mean something, words that make Nebraska special – "TRADITION." "DOMINANCE." The music choice is excellent, and the video quality lives up to the giant HD screen. This was a – say it with me now – big-time production for big-time football.
We can nitpick the individual performances of the players (see previous warnings about players reading scripted lines), but the overall production works. Selecting Texas-born players for the Texas game and seniors for the Colorado game, also perfect. "I play for Nebraska" is brilliant. I never played for Nebraska – most of us never did and never will – but somehow we still know what it means. It's powerful, it's inspiring, and the crowd is bonkers before the first note of Sirius even plays.
Perhaps the only mark against this edition is the shot of the stands and focusing on the newly constructed gate. The nod to service members is noble (and something Nebraska continues to do in better ways to this day), the gate comes off as another forced attempt to start a new tradition in Pederson's remaking of Nebraska culture in his own image – if you're familiar with actual traditions, isn't usually how they start. Still, this is nitpicking, as the 2006 Tunnel Walk is the finest effort to date and one of the best of all time.
- Louisiana State joins Arizona State as the second school to feature in two Tunnel Walk home openers, with their first visit having taken place in 2008.
- The 2006 Tunnel Walk is the first to forgo 3D work in favor of video production.
- For the first time, the Tunnel Walk opens with music other than Sirius. The familiar opening tone starts as Keith Jackson sings the praises of Nebraska football.
- In yet another Tunnel Walk first, the team emerges from the northwest corner of the field instead of the southwest corner as it had for decades prior.
NEBRASKA TUNNEL WALK vs. USC (via Kortum)
- Debut: Sept. 1, 2007 (Nevada)
- Home Record: 4-3
The Tunnel Walks of the Callahan era swing wildly between styles, never settling on a true identity, but there is one intriguing correlation: the quality of the Tunnel Walk directly maps to the quality of the season. 2004? Meandering and lost. Barely recognizable. 2005? Some nice ideas, but ultimately generic and forgettable. 2006? A sudden high point, an injection of energy, a reason for fans to get excited again.
2007, well... buckle up, Nebraska fans.
When I was about 13 or 14, I thought it'd be totally sweet to do some crazy fighter jet fly-bys of the stadium with Herbie Husker piloting and afterburners in the shape of red glowing Ns. And it could fire football-shaped missiles to destroy the other team's helmet! Yeah, that'd be awesome, right?
Here's the thing. I was in middle school. I had no idea what the hell I was talking about. That would have been terrible.
For 2007, actual people who were not in middle school sat in a room, and decided, "Let's put actual players on camera, like they're in a military cargo plane flying over the stadium! And that movie 300 was pretty sweet, so let's have them yell that 'AAOOOOHH' thing a couple times. And then they'll jump out of a plane to get to the stadium, and walk through the waterfall in our lobby, but then they'll have their uniforms on but be all CG instead. Oh, and we should have some local DJ remix Sirius. OH MY GOD THIS IS ALL SO COOL, LET'S DO THIS!"
So, sure enough...
We open with real fireworks from the north stadium, Jigsaw from Saw says "Let the game begin," and the underside of a Nebraska National Guard plane flies across the screen as the music from the end of Saw plays. Cut to an angle from above the plane where fighters with big red Ns on the wing are flying escort. Inside the plane, we see Nebraska players in their pre-game suits as a National Guard officer yells out, "Men, are you ready?" After she declares "Game time!" they actually do the "AAOOOOHH" thing from 300. In the cockpit, the flight computer displays "Approaching Drop Zone" and "Ground Support 85,000." We watch our players begin bailing out of the plane and parachute in CG form over Lincoln as the Mikey Bo remix beat kicks in over the Saw theme. The players land outside near the Husker Legacy statue and walk into the stadium.
As they pass the Husker Legacy statue, the bronze tackled player suddenly has the helmet of the opposing team and the other players in the statue come to life dogpile on. Meanwhile, the players walk into the lobby under north stadium and into the giant waterfall, emerging on the other side as cartoonish CG characters as we hear the first strain of Sirius under a silly beat. We pan up to a poor treatment of "I PLAY FOR NEBRASKA." Now, it's time to and show some highlights over more buzzwords ("TEAMWORK" is one of them, really?) before we cram "THE POWER OF RED" back in, because Steve Pederson needs to sell more t-shirts. As the camera pulls back, we see the text was actually on the big screen of a CG Memorial Stadium all along, and we take a quick flight through the tunnel (with no shortage of terrible live-action fans, a couple of them holding an awful "BEAT [OPPONENT]" banner) before the door explodes and the team takes the field.
Look, the crowd may have eaten this up under the lights when USC was in town, but it's ourjob to scream our heads off when the guys in red do anything. This intro... my God, man. The kitchen sink approach is jumbled, poorly produced, and embarrassing quality. It clocks in at nearly 2 minutes long. The remixed theme makes no sense and contributes to inconsistent jumps and cuts.
Debut: Oct. 20, 2007 (Texas A&M)
After the dismissal of Steve Pederson and re-hiring of Tom Osborne as interim Athletic Director on Oct. 15 2007, the entire opening segment was replaced for the Oct. 20 matchup against Texas A&M. This version kicks off with a variation of the classic white flashes, borrows footage from Keith Jackson's 2006 sessions and features a long string of highlights to remind us why we're Nebraska fans. The highlights close with a nice A&M-targeted clip of Maurice Purify's game-winning catch in College Station from 2006 – the best higlight clips are, after all, the ones featuring classic plays against the day's. The only remaining segment from the original 2007 intro shows the Husker Legacy tackle, which transitions straight to the flight through the tunnel.
That's right, the original 2007 Tunnel Walk's infractions were so severe it was ruled ineligible. As such, its grade has been vacated. That's actually an improvement.
- -This is the first time a Tunnel Walk has been significantly replaced mid-season. It really was that bad.
- -2007 also marks the lone appearance of CG Nebraska players.