[The following was written by CN community member Todd Wolverton about his experience at the Nebraska - Miami game. - Jon Johnston]
I got to my first Husker game of the season and what a fun night it was watching that victory over Miami! That said, I have been critical of the fan experience in various conversations on this site, and have also been a strong supporter of taking steps to better integrate the students into the games and total experience. That said, here are a few things that I take away from the game vs. Miami.
The Wi-Fi installation is far from perfect. I will probably lose credibility here because I am far from knowledgeable on this topic, but while people around me were using various apps during the game, half of my texts came back and couldn't be sent. Is that cell service or Wi-Fi or what? Don't know as I am a Verizon subscriber, and yes, I was able to call Jon three times to get clarification on what the heck was going on because the crowd noise was at such a high decibel level that we could not hear the referee when he was on the mic in the stadium announcing the personal foul calls. From people I talked to, the audio in the first game up underneath the overhang was very, very loud. They toned that down since and those I talk to appreciate the better quality sound as well as the new video screens they see from their seats.
The crowd noise was awesome! There was as much noise as I can ever remember at important points of the game. People in sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 were not sitting, or yelling at people to sit. They were into the game and attempted to have an influence! The blue hairs around me were up, and being a pre-blue hair, I was standing and yelling too. I won't say the night matched the same intensity as what I remember from games a number of years ago vs. KU and CU when I believe the Huskers were underdogs both nights, but I am over the half-century mark and my memory is fading! None the less, night games are special at Nebraska and I always have thought a bit louder and more exciting!
The tunnel walk for the 1994 team was very special. And, Sirius was the right song. It was nostalgic, even though - here's my memory issue again - I believe that the '94 team predated the tunnel walk. It was cool! I was incredible to see Tom and Milt and Charlie lead that group through the tunnel and on to the field. But, this was the perfect opportunity to retire it, and bringing the 2014 Huskers out with something new and fresh! Honestly, and I will step on many toes here, while they were paying homage to the Pipeline, the quarterbacks and the Blackshirts from 1994, I kept asking myself, "when are we going to stop living in the past?" Too many Nebraska fans live in the past, and while it gives a sense of accomplishment and makes us feel good to relive those experiences, it doesn't do anything for the present and future.
Music selection at critical times was pathetic. Yes, during some breaks in the action and time outs, they played music that was current and fit the moment. A few times later in the game the students were rockin'. However, while Wisconsin fans are "jumping around" between the third and fourth quarter, Nebraska fans get the opportunity watch, wait for it - The Scarlets dance on the southern half of the field to some nauseating pop tune! You got to be kidding me! The Scarlets! A dance team is on the field dancing prior to the fourth quarter of a football game! The crowd was at a fever pitch due to the hooliganism that took place at the end of the third quarter and we get The Scarlets! I have two thoughts about this. First, I am intrigued by the suggestion on this blog to chart new territory with Johnny Cash's God's Gonna Cut You Down. No it is not a fire up song but nothing - NOTHING! - would have been more fitting in light of the moment that the came at the end of the third quarter against Miami. Some black and white retro looking mug shots of Miami Hurricanes accompanying the tune would have been awesome! The other thing is that as I was complaining about The Scarlets and their Lite Rock routine, the guy in front of me turned around and suggested that the Athletic Department and law enforcement probably made them go out there to settle the seething, angry crowd! I thought that was funny, but we don't want the crowd to settle down! You want the crowd to be able to support as much in the fourth quarter as at the start of the game, and after standing and yelling their lungs out, they need a pick up! They need something to keep them in the game. This was only compounded during a timeout in the fourth quarter when Mr. Song Selector played something that sounded like a Sirius Interlude. Again, was it a conspiracy to calm the crowd and prevent the carnage of anything wearing green and orange?
The. Student. Section. Was. Awesome! The students showed up and were into the game from start to finish. The blackout gave them an identity. The new signs they broke out were outstanding! Waving the red towels and screaming at the top of their lungs was incredible! People bitching about them need to read the article I link below. These kids need to be included. They need to be welcomed. Give them seats where they can have an impact on the game rather than stuck n the corner. Put them behind the visitor's bench. Put the band over there as well. Take the public relations hit from the season ticket holders and work a plan to relocate them as close as possible to their location, but on the other side of the field. It may take years, but seats eventually open up and people are moved into them. I don't blame the students for not showing up for some of the home games on the schedule. I didn't choose to spend my money and my weekend to go to those either! Bottom line is that the students cannot be disenfranchised. I think that this article from Slate probably puts the issue of falling student attendance in much better perspective than I can:
The band is an awesome musical group, but their shows are bland. Come on, a salute to the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner? It was not one bit exciting, and anyone that is interested in the history of our national anthem can watch a program on PBS. It had all of the pizzazz of . . . well something really boring. The pre-game show probably has the same consecutive streak as the one for sellouts. Trivia question: How many of you can name the tune played to salute each of the four sides of Memorial Stadium? For crying out loud, this group of musicians are as good as any band in the land, but their programs are lame and unless you are a real student of music or didn't get enough of that General Music class in 7th grade, do not contribute as much as they could to the game. At KSU they get that Wabash Cannonball rolling throughout the game and get the crowd literally rocking. USC and OU bands irritate the heck out of opponents with their repetitive March of the Trojans or whatever it is called, and Boomer Sooner. When the Aggie Marching Band takes the field there is tremendous excitement and electricity with their performance. The band needs a programming makeover. It's like harnessing a racehorse to a plow.
Okay, there were fireworks. I like fireworks. They are pretty and festive. But they are fireworks. Nebraska can do more, and I hope they do!
I get my first opportunity to experience Camp Randall first-hand this fall. I have been in Tiger Stadium for LSU-Arkansas. From what I have experienced, and what I have been told, there is no reason that the Big Red Experience cannot be improved. People shouldn't have the most fun of the weekend in the parking lots at their tailgates!