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What Makes a Great College Football Entrance?

June 4, 2008

Note: when I made the switch from blogger to wordpress I lost the Youtube videos with this. I’m planning to add them back in soon, but until then here’s the link to the original post with the Youtube videos: click here.

While I’m a lover of all sports, there will always be one that holds a special place in my heart: college football. I think it was probably because I grew up spending Saturdays making the long drive into the beautiful of mountains of southwest Virginia to see Virginia Tech play. I was a Hokie fan at the right time. My first game was spent nearly freezing to death in a late-fall game where the Hokies beat a Syracuse team led by freshman Donovan McNabb. The first year I remember well is VT’s 1995 season where true pocket-QB Jim Druckenmiller led the team to the Sugar Bowl where they defeated Texas. From then on, I was hooked. The next few years would be the beginning of the golden years for Hokie football. Greats such as Bryan Still, Ken Oxendine, pre-incarcerated Michael Vick, Cory Moore, John Engleberger, Lee Suggs, and Kevin Jones would be just a few of the greats that I would consistently witness on beautiful Blacksburg Saturdays.

I wouldn’t attend Virginia Tech for college and instead went to the University of South Carolina. While the two schools were different in their campuses and student bodies, they were the same in their zeal for football. Also similar was the fact that at both schools people said, “you HAVE to be there for the entrance of the players. Both schools do have great player entrances – for VT, it’s the playing of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and the jumping of all the Hokie faithful. For Carolina, it’s 2001 – a tradition started by the late Joe Morrison who wanted to provide something unique for his Gamecocks to run out to. I still remember my first 2001 – it was against UGA with ESPN’s College Gameday in town, and all day I talked to strangers who got wide-eyed and said, “I can’t believe this is your first 2001,” as if I had been deprived of one of the essentials of life for 18 years. 2001 lived up to the hype, but the team did not (we blew a lead and lost), and I was officially a Gamecock fan. It would describe much of the next few years of my time at Carolina football games. Great entrance, disappointing play. But no matter how bad the team played, 2001 was always special.

So that got me thinking – what makes a great pre-game atmosphere and entrance? The following are my brief thoughts on the matter, along with a few videos to illustrate:

Fan Passion

First and foremost, a team’s entrance has to excite the fans. For example, there are plenty of schools where the stadium doesn’t fill up until after the team has run onto the field. A great entrance must be something that the fans want to be there for. That’s what really struck me about 2001 at USC. The stadium was full before the players took the field because everyone wanted to witness it. I would say the same for VT. Basically, don’t claim that your school has an incredible entrance and then have 10,000 fans show up after it’s done. If your own fans don’t make the effort to be there for it or aren’t going crazy during the entrance, then it’s really not that great. For example, check out the VT entrance and see if there’s an empty seat as the team comes out:

VT Entrance:

Tradition

Also important is tradition. If your entrance is only the playing of a recently popular hard-rock song and your players run out on the field from a tunnel, then you’re not doing anything that’s worth getting fired up for. It’s important to not change your entrance every 5 years (whether it’s the song or the method of entry). That’s why the following schools’ pre-game environments are so well known:

The M Club Supports You:

Script Ohio:

Splitting the T at Tennessee:

Uniqueness

In the world of sports if you do something weird or unique long enough it becomes cool. That’s what has made 2001 so popular at Carolina. I’ve heard many talk about when they first started using 2001 as the entrance, and that many of the fans had no idea what was going on or even didn’t like it. But, after a couple of decades it has become a trademark of Gamecock football.

A Classic 2001:

The same thing, just twenty years later:

The same can also be said for Mr. Two Bits down in The Swamp:

Don’t Use Stupid Videos

Most importantly, DON’T USE STUPID PRE-GAME VIDEOS! Sorry to use the all-caps, but that’s how strongly I feel about it. Now that any respectable school has a jumbotron, there is almost always a video that precedes the team’s entrance. Unfortunately, this privilege has been horribly abused. I’ve given two examples below. A pre-game video should never include 1) An animated movie with your mascot beating up the other team’s mascot as seen in the Arizona State video below and at UVA games or 2) your players doing any sort of extensive acting (and by extensive, I mean doing anything beyond looking at the camera in an intimidating fashion). A plus for entrance videos, as seen in the A&M video below, is using old clips to show off the program’s accomplishments. Write this down: show football players playing, not acting.

Arizona State entrance video:

A Nebraska entrance video:

A Good example: Texas A&M’s video:

So what’s important? Fan passion, consistency, tradition, uniqueness, and an avoidance of stupid videos. Most importantly, always build up your own school’s entrance and never acknowledge your rivals’ entrance as being cool or intimidating, which is exactly why I’ve chosen not to include any discussion of Clemson running down the hill in this post. Go Gamecocks!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. -P Harmon- permalink
    June 5, 2008 4:40 pm

    Are you kidding me? How in the world did 2001 make it to the board of greats with teams like Ohio State, Florida, and Tennessee? And where is Florida State’s entrance of riding the horse and spearing the 50 yard line? I think it’s pretty intimidating even though we have laid the wood to them over the past few years! AND LET US NOT FORGET “THE MOST EXCITING 25 SECONDS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL”….THE HILL!!!! Be afraid…be very afraid! No matter who you pull for, with a given tag like that, this entrance must not be left out. GO TIGERS!

  2. Brian R. Mahon permalink
    June 8, 2008 4:19 pm

    Barley,

    I have to agree with Patrick man! Granted, Virginia Tech’s is good – been there, done that. But, 2001? I think another criteria of a great football entrance ought to be that the team has a historical record over .500 – they actually have to be good! Carolina hasn’t accomplished anything in over 100 years of football! It’s like, “let’s get pumped for 2001 because that’s the only thing to get pumped about on a Saturday afternoon in Columbia!” But hey, I appreciate your Carolina steadfastness, after all, if there were no Carolina fans who would Clemson fans make fun of?

    No, really – I love the videos! It gets me pumped for football season! Thanks for the jolt!

  3. Bert permalink
    June 9, 2008 7:19 pm

    Brook Whitmire’s voice booms over the loudspeaker in Sanford Stadium and 92,746 are summoned to their feet.

    “It’s Saturday afternoon in Athens!”

    They’ve spent the past two hours at the Dog Walk, lining the way between Lumpkin Street and the Bridge with red and black. The team has walked the walk, looking the Bulldog Nation in the eyes as they prepare for the game ahead.

    The Redcoat Band now stands Between the Hedges as Whitmire’s voice fills the air. Then, there in the southwest corner of the stadium, a lone trumpet soloist stands, and the Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation begins.

    Larry Munson’s voice now, distinct and raspy as ever, comes over the speakers as on the screen a montage of Bulldog greats – Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, Erk Russell, Lindsey Scott, Kevin Butler, Eric Zeier, Champ Bailey, Robert Edwards, David Greene, Boss Bailey, Mussa Smith, Thomas Davis, Matthew Stafford – roll on the screen. Lindsey Scott’s crushing 80-yard TD run on Florida in 1980. Herschel’s legs pumping through Tennessee in his freshman campaign. Dooley getting carried off the field on shoulders – “Look at the Sugar falling out of the sky!” Verron Haynes stomping on the Volunteer’s face with his hobnail boot. David Pollack stripping and recovering for the TD against the Gamecocks. Michael Johnson leaping over Auburn to capture the TD and the SEC East.

    All to The Voice of the Bulldogs, in his legendary style, and on the backdrop of the Battle Hymn:

    “Heroes have graced the field before, with the hearts, bodies and minds of which the Bulldog Nation can be justifiably proud. The tradition of unbridled excellence demonstrated by these, whose memory spans more than a full century. And now a new breed of Bulldog stands ready to take the field abound to assume the reigns of the Georgia forebearers and continue that tradition, understanding that there is no tradition more worthy of envy, no institution more worthy of such loyalty, as the University of Georgia. As we prepare for another meeting Between the Hedges, let all the Bulldog faithful rally behind the men who now wear the Red and Black, with two words, two simple words which express the sentiment of the entire Bulldog Nation…”

    And 93,000 fans, filling the stadium and bridge, yell at the top of their lungs, in exact unison with Redcoat Band,

    “Go Dogs!”

    I’m not saying the Sanford Stadium has the greatest single moment of entrance, but I challenge anybody to give me a greater two hours leading up to game time than you’ll find on any fall Saturday afternoon in Athens.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 14, 2008 8:54 pm

    i just wanted to protect the rights of Mr. Richard Strauss. The entrance music for the USC Gamecocks is known by 2001 but it’s original composition was called “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, a tone poem by Richard Strauss. Get it right buddy. jk
    –matt

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