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.

Jeff Johnson:

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.

“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.

Team Entrance:

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.

Pre-Kick Downtime:

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.




Filed under Cyclone Football

7 responses to “LESS IS MORE

  1. BA Cyclone

    Solid ideas, I think I agree with everything you have said here. Some of our “new traditions” do seem a little bit forced at times.

    Regarding your last point on the downtime between the entrance and KO, I am hoping the “new scoreboard” will really open up opportunities for an impactful addition along the lines of your thoughts. Definitely, something there would help keep the energy from the grand entrance flowing through to the KO.

  2. Matt Craft

    An idea I’ve had is for Jeff Johnson to do Cyclone Power with a new Cyclone alum each football game. Sort of like a Cubs 7th inning stretch/Take Me Out to the Ballgame routine. It would fit well since Jeff is the Alumni Association President and it would be an “alum” doing it with him. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a former athlete each week, but certainly could.

  3. Xianclone

    BTW, the Smoke on the Water loop was fixed for the last three home games. They replaced the original loop with one done by a 40yr old on his home computer.

  4. Pingback: Football pregame - CycloneFanatic

  5. j4state

    Great write-up.

    Our pregame might not seem so bad if you haven’t been to other stadiums. Sadly, our athletic department needs an all expenses paid trip around the country to show them how obviously bush-league we are running things. Comparable stadiums like Kansas State and Colorado, for instance blow us out of the water. Not because of an extravagant, financially charged performance, but because simply of some CREATIVITY.

    Whoever has been orchestrating our pregame should be not be in the position they are in. Period. It screams of good ‘ol boys that have been in a position far too long and no longer have a grasp of what works for the FANS.

    The fact that it goes through JP unscathed is a little scary, to be honest. He is not the problem but I expect more from the department as a whole under his watch.

    The Jeff Johnson act should be completely discontinued. A shortened version, as mentioned in your article, would be a good start. JJ is a passionate Cyclone who represents the university well. Putting him in a position to defend an embarrassment like that is shameful.

    The tunnel walk works for me. I am one of the few who actually preferred the east side Jacobsen march. Feeling the energy from the students resonating through the rest of the stadium was special. I have no problem with the tunnel walk, especially since we ditched the Nebraska, err Chicago Bulls rip-off.

    Smoke on the Water is not my favorite. Has a somewhat awkward feel to it. Kind of reminds me of a band nerd trying to be a badass or something. Seems out of touch in an otherwise relatively contemporary setting. There are 50 songs I could think of off the top of my head that would be a better fit for a football game intro.”Thunderstruck”, I’ve always felt would work anywere in an ISU intro (great call). The problem is every fan has their perfect song and some will always feel compromised.

    There are times to be stubborn. This is simply ignorance. Listen to YOUR fans’ input and lets all reap the benefit of an improved gameday experience.

    I am optimistic the new video board will bring opportunities for new ideas and overall improvement rather than accentuate existing issues.

  6. Pingback: Entrance Video Change? - Page 3 - CycloneFanatic

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