Entrances at entertainment events have always been an art. Starting a speech to set the tone. Overtures in musical theatre. The playing of “My Old Kentucky Home” at the Kentucky Derby. Opening numbers in concerts. The first pages of a book.
Entrances at football games are bold declarations authored by a university — declaring how spectacular it is.
The foreplay almost always crescendos with the football team, the grand symbol of the university, rushing on the field to do battle. The marching bands almost always are our storytellers — crafting a mini pre-show with specific touchpoints all meant to build us up to the great moment of the warriors charging on the field.
In these videos, in these openings, every single element is purposeful. From a content, pacing and, most importantly, regarding the expectation of audience’s engagement.
An entrance is really the university telling the audience to take over — that, from that moment on, it’s up to them to cheer on their team to victory. That the verb of the game isn’t just on the field — it’s also in the stands.
Here are our favorite works of art…
USC has the incredible tradition of stabbing the sword in the fifty yard line to start the story of the game.
Spectacular! Lots of controversy about all this… Here’s one newspaper story:
The real point is that it matters to fans on both sides. USC has figured out how to engage the entire stadium in their storytelling.
Then they break into their infamous ‘war chant,’ followed by their ‘fight song.’
The stage is set…
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
Here’s what we love about this video. It’s shot from the POV of one trumpet player.
The entrance show at Nebraska is fantastic.
But you’ve gotta love this player’s performance. This poor soul is full of heart with absolutely zero trumpet skills. Sometimes he/she knows he/she’s not going to be playing the right notes, so he/she just drops out for a few notes… So fun.
It’s a reminder of the amazing talent of marching band leaders to corral, in most cases, many non-music majors to blending together, with all their personal challenges — to collectively sounding like a million dollars.
Bravo to this player and bravo and to this terrific marching band.
Marching bands are about heart. Pride. Spirit. That’s what matters. It’s way more than playing the right notes all the time.
What an entrance.
What an amazing fight song, “Victors.”
All foreplay for the unbelievable entrance through the tunnel of the team exploding on to the field under the traditional “Go Blue” banner.
That’s an opening!
Notre Dame’s entrance show doesn’t start coming on to the field – it starts walking into the stadium!
The second video is an exceptional example of creating an emotional experience/tradition. “Here Come the Irish” is their ‘school song.’ They play a piece of it right before their opening kickoff.
The third is their marching band’s intro to the team entering the field.
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
Great, grand opening. All the bells and whistles.
The marching band. Cheerleaders. A nationally-top majorette. Strutting drum major.
They effectively incorporate a state flag of Oklahoma — tying together the ‘tribe’ of the university with the ‘tribe’ of the state. They’re declaring the university is the heartbeat of the state.
They seque from their alma mater (all fans singing), singing their opponent’s fight song (purposely underplaying it), and then banging into their fabulous fight song — as the stadium claps. All while creating formations. Ends with “The Star Spangled Banner.” Some tricky formations, and ends with repeating the ‘fight song’ with a stadium of singers as they strut across the field.
Shakespeare would be proud of the art of telling the story of the play in front of the curtain before the play even begins…
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
Large and in charge. The big, big drum says it all.
As Brett Musburger says, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”
The tradition around the players touching the rock, the foreplay of the marching band and videos on their fantastic jumbotron, the countdown on the scoreboard, the chanting ‘keep your filthy hands off my rock,’ the insanity and chanting of the fans, the orange balloons, the fireworks, the kitchen sink — all set the stage for this extraordinary, heroic entrance.
Bravo, Clemson. You’ve set the bar.
Ohio State knows the moment they’re selling… Building up to the ‘jump-around’ of ‘Enter Sandman’ before their warriors roar on the field.
Before that, they give the fans ‘the baton’ as the huge crowd belts out their fight song.
Topped off with one of the great unique traditions in the country — ‘dotting the eye.’
Then the band breaks down with the fans all singing the fight song again. Fabulous!
Then the alma mater with a great, classic introduction. Snappy dissonant chords to set up the melodic melody of their alma mater. Everyone in the stadium singing along with a big ending. Can’t beat it.
The energy in a Virginia Tech stadium at the team’s entrance is absolutely extraordinary.
When the crazy fans start singing “Sandman,” creating a resonance that is in the bones of every single person in that stadium – it is the poster child of defining an “experience” that you can’t possibly get on a couch in a living room.
There is so much about Virginia Tech to be so respectful of — they know how to put on a show, and are basking in the rewards from their smart leadership.
Alabama football finally got to show off the new LED lighting system installed at Bryant-Deny stadium and was it something.
Doesn’t quite feel the same at home…
Check out the Crimson Tide’s entrance before the Tennessee game.
An absolutely exceptional marching band program.
Great traditions, great marching band, great fun with the Drum Major, and the stars of the show… the 100,000 fans in white.
Truly world-class show.