Pump Up the Jam

There was a significant change this season when opponents took the field in Death Valley.

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When the Arena Football League first came into existence in 1987, one of its new quirks was the playing of loud, raucous, bone-jarring music in between every play. More times than not, the music would bring the crowd to their feet and cause the players' adrenaline to get flowing even more.

Now, some 18 years later, the powers-that-be have finally decided to adapt some of those same doings into Clemson home football games. For the first time ever, an assortment of popular music is being blared through the loudspeakers in between plays when key stops are needed on defense or when the crowd seems to be a little lackluster.

The reasoning is based on what the AFL found out nearly 20 years ago: fans and players respond to certain kinds of music.

"I like it, and I do a lot of jumping around to try and get the fans into it," said Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters. "I've had a lot of fans come up to me and tell me what music the players should request. I know they're listening to it, and we are too. It just seems to get everybody going."

Music at Clemson sporting events first made its appearance at basketball games a few years ago, and even then it was mostly during the pregame warm-ups. But the concept of playing music really took off during the 2005 baseball season when, for the first time, music was played with the introduction of each Clemson batter.

Some new technology obtained by Assistant Athletic Director for Promotions John Seketa enabled him to do such things. So, when the Clemson player walked to the batter's box, a musical selection chosen by that player was played.

"The music makes you feel like you're not tired," Waters said. "When we hear the music, we just start jumping around. The music does give you a little bit more energy. I think it's been a pretty good selection. It's appropriate for everybody."
All parties concerned liked the new feature. The next logical step was to incorporate it into football games. That's where digital production arts graduate assistants Jeremy Hicks and Nicholas McElveen entered the picture.

Hicks and McElveen had joined Seketa to handle and create the movements of the new giant animated tiger named "T.G. the Tiger" on the new video screen at football games. When the idea came to try the music at football games, Hicks and McElveen were in charge of picking the music.

"They give it to me, and I listen to it," Seketa said of the musical selection. "Most of the stuff we play is just music without the lyrics. You have to be fan-friendly, so you have to be able to play music that's not going to upset people."

However, Seketa said he receives emails and messages from a small group of people who dislike the playing of the music. Most of those against it are either older or just don't like that kind of a music to begin with.

But of course, that's been the case since the invention of the phonograph. Older generations dislike the music of their children and grandchildren.

For the most part, the players like the selection of music being played. And it appears the fans do, as well. During the third quarter against Florida State, the song, ‘Zombie Nation' started playing, and over half of the stadium started jumping up and down.

"The music makes you feel like you're not tired," Waters said. "When we hear the music, we just start jumping around. The music does give you a little bit more energy. I think it's been a pretty good selection. It's appropriate for everybody."

The marching band even gets into it.

"The band members jump up and down to the music," Seketa said. "So you know they're not upset at not playing. When it's a sunny day, they get hit extra hard. It's a long day and they're in those heavy uniforms, so it gives them a break."

The playing of the music has had its growing pains. With each passing game, the general consensus is Seketa and his two guys have gotten better with their selections.

"It's nerve-wracking to play a song and not know how fans and players are going to react to it," Seketa said. "You're always going to have a couple of people that want to know why we're going in this direction, but once you explain it to them, they understand."

Tigers cornerback Duane Coleman said earlier in the season it was pretty rough to listen to. Now he doesn't have much of a problem with it.

"I'd say they did a pretty good job," he said. "There's some music I'd like to have them play, but I don't know how well it'd go over. People might not like it too much."

The overwhelming response, though, has been extremely positive. The recruits on the sidelines even start dancing some when listening to it. In fact, folks from outside the Clemson community have inquired about the music.

"You know you're doing something right when outside people want your song list for events back at their home," Seketa said. "Having (Hicks and McElveen) here has really improved my game. I give all the credit to them."

Seketa said he has about 20 songs currently on the list, but he's thinking about making a few changes to when the music is played. This past season, it was played when the defense took to the field or needed big stops.

"I'm thinking about doing it only on third downs, but only if the band's not playing," Seketa said.

One thing's for sure, defensive player Gaines Adams sure hopes the frequency of playing the music doesn't diminish.

"It's just something to give you that extra boost," he said. "It gives you energy to make that play. I think it was a good thing that they started playing the music. You really don't need it on offense because they've got to hear the plays, but I think it was a great idea to give the guys on defense that extra edge to make the play."

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