Now that the football season has come to an end, it’s time to address a serious issue: the mess that is our football pregame. Okay, so it’s not really a serious issue, but it’s a pet peeve of mine and I’m trying to keep this light as we transition into basketball season. As I stated in my Game Five Observations, our current build-up to kick off is extremely amateurish and screams of too many cooks in the kitchen. It needs to be fixed.
Those in charge of this sort of programming clearly have a penchant for adding more bells and whistles with little regard for how these bells and whistles come together to form a cohesive and energizing pregame The end goal of any pregame program should be to electrify the crowd just before kickoff. If you’ve ever attended a college football game at another BCS school, or even if you’ve watched such a game on TV, it’s clear that we fail to achieve this goal more often than not. Sure, the crowd is frenzied during the Iowa or Nebraska pregame, but that’s largely in spite of the pre-kick programming.
There is simply too much going on, and the transition from one element to another is about as seamless and graceful as a fat man’s belly flop from the high board. As soon as the fans seem to be getting into something, it’s abruptly cut off in favor of the next element. My fear is that the additional audio/visual capabilities of a new scoreboard and sound system (scheduled to be completed by next season) will only tempt our pregame planners to bombard us with even more pre-kick clutter.
So, in a sense, this post is a sort of preemptive strike, knowing that someone in the Jacobson building is itching to tinker with this or that. Heck, if they’re willing to tinker with the pregame in Hilton, which seemed to be working just fine, nothing is off-limits. (And we wonder why it’s so hard to establish traditions here. But I digress.) There are some things about the pregame that simply will not be changed, but I believe some minor tweaks could be made that would greatly simplify and streamline the program. Here are my suggestions, which pick up after the marching band does their thing.
Love him or hate him, he’s a great Cyclone fan and he’s not going anywhere. That being said, his routine absolutely must be pared down. Of all of his cheers, only one really works in our divided, wind-swept stadium. That is ‘Cyclone Power’. My suggestion: Come out and briefly welcome the fans and make a rah-rah statement, then kick off ‘Cyclone Power’ and get off the field. Short and sweet. This cheer is the closest thing we have to something coordinated and intimidating, and the crowd can carry this cheer all the way into the tunnel walk.
Another thing that I don’t believe is going anywhere is “Smoke on the Water” as I understand that this was Rhoads’ song choice. It’s not a terrible song, assuming the bass riff intro hasn’t been looped by a 12-year-old on his home computer. (Actually, most 12-year-olds could probably do better.) My suggestion: Fix the looping, crank it up on the new sound system, and this song works just fine. You can clap along with this song, which seems to largely determine the success of music at an Iowa State athletics event.
Unless you have no pulse, this should be exciting regardless of the build-up. Given the layout of the stadium and the Jacobson building, there’s probably not a better way to enter the field. The inflatable is a bit cheesy, but it’s infinitely better than it was with the cartoonish helmet attached to the end. I like the extended marching band tunnel, and it’s appropriate to fade out “Smoke on the Water” to play the fight song as the team runs onto the field. My suggestion: Keep this as is, but make sure the scoreboard music fades out enough to actually hear the fight song.
This portion of the pregame is so memorable that I’m having a hard time recalling exactly what fills this space between the team entrance and kickoff. My hunch is that it’s a random assortment of jock jams. Scoreboard music is an appropriate filler here, but the music still needs to fire up the crowd and *gasp* perhaps even become a tradition. (Yes, piped-in music can become a tradition. See: Virginia Tech’s use of “Enter Sandman”) It needs to be high-energy, pass the clap test mentioned above, and make some sense in the context of a Cyclone football game. My suggestion: AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” seems to fit the bill, and it’s about 5 minutes long so it can give you quite a bit of filler if necessary.
The changes that I would make aren’t dramatic, but I think they’re enough dramatically improve the pregame program. Similar to the hot-button issue of football uniforms, Iowa State simply needs to find something that works and stick with it for a long, long time. That’s how traditions are established.