Regular readers will know that I love Nebraska football, and pretty much everything related to the game day experience at Memorial Stadium: the Sea of Red, the Tunnel Walk, the sights, sounds, and smells that even the greatest HDTV cannot replicate. Having been to football games at a dozen other campuses – including some legendary programs – I will put Nebraska up there with the best of the best in almost every aspect.
But there is one area where the Nebraska game day experience is significantly lacking: Halftime.
Halftime at Nebraska means a presentation by the Cornhusker Marching Band. The band may call themselves the “Pride of All Nebraska”, but their halftime shows are not something that fans can take pride in.
Pretty much everything about their halftime shows – the themes (“The music of Earth, Wind, & Fire” seems to pop up every couple of years), the songs, and the formations are bland and uninspiring. The band seems quite content to live a static life inside of a very conservative box. I’ve come to accept that the halftime shows are going to be bland, boring, or downright painful to endure.*
*In fairness, I will freely admit that I have not witnessed too many halftime performances in the last five years. I prefer to spend halftime down in the concourse where I can use the restroom, get a hotdog, and discuss the first half with some friends. Having watched many a halftime show over the years, I know I’m not missing much. And since I’ve been skipping halftime, I have never returned to my seat to have somebody tell me “you missed a great halftime show.”
So when I read an article like this from Slate, which describes the ongoing battle for marching band supremacy between Ohio State and Ohio University, I am filled with a mix of shock (marching band performances can be entertaining and fun to watch? With current songs that I recognize?) and jealousy. Why can’t we have that?
Nebraska fans got a close up look at Ohio State’s marching prowess during the Huskers’ recent game in Columbus. The OSU band presented a tribute to video games that features recognizable songs, fun formations, and lots of movement. The video of that show (as of this post) is closing in on 14 million views. For comparison, the Cornhusker Marching Band’s most viral halftime show is a 2010 show where they performed songs from “Glee”. It has 3,610 views.
Let me be clear – I am not referring to the band’s “pregame spectacular” featuring a selection of fight songs, marches, and songs that has remained essentially unchanged for 20+ years. I love the drumline’s cadence, singing along to “No Place Like Nebraska”, enjoying the “majestic strains of ‘March Grandioso'”, the second verse of “Hail Varsity”, when the band spells out “HUSKERS” on the field – all of it. It is one of my favorite parts of the game day atmosphere and I hope it never changes
I just wish that Nebraska’s marching band – a collection of talented and passionate musicians, under excellent leadership – could elevate their game. While I doubt they would every go into a full tribute of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem, (as awesome as that would be) I truly believe they are capable of a fun, whimsical, and musically entertaining performance – say like Hawaii’s football kicker performance.
But until any sort of buzz around the halftime show appears, I (and thousands of other fans) will be heading for the aisle when the second quarter ends.