Alan Shiers is the supervisor of the 30 person south end zone rope crew that provides security for the Huskers in the tunnel walk area before and after each game when the players go on and off the field. This interview was done on August 24, 2004 by David Max. This series of interviews with former players and athletic department personnel is being done in conjuction with the Bob Terrio Classic.
DM How did you become part of this crew?
AS It all started back in the early 1970s when my dad was working for a construction company. One of the guys that they sent out to work with him was Bill Janssen. They kind of hit it off and Bill invited my dad, myself and my brother down to the stadium. We took down little books and we got autographs of everybody including Coach Devaney. I was about 10 years old at the time and became a Husker fan then. Later on I worked with a friend whose dad was a supervisor on the crew and they were looking for someone to work on the north end zone crew. I thought that would get me into the game and I worked the north end for a couple of years. An opening came up on the south end and so I got in there.
DM Have you worked every game since then?
AS I've missed two games since then and I hope to keep going on further.
DM Are you a full time employee with the athletic department?
AS I am a part time employee and work home football Saturdays and also work the Salt Dogs home baseball games.
DM So what is your full time job?
AS I am a technician with Senior Technologies. We produce alarm systems for nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living centers.
DM What is a typical game day like for you and your crew?
AS We usually arrive at the stadium one hour prior to kickoff. That is approximately the first time that the Huskers come out onto the field for warm ups. They have 4 to 5 groups and they come out in bunches. At that point we stretch a rope from the locker room doors to the gates onto the field and we assist getting the players on the field without any obstruction.
DM So the rope goes up and down to accomodate the players access to the field?
AS It goes up and down whenever a group of players come on and off the field. We have a stairwell that is located in the southwest corner of the end zone and we have to allow fans access to get to their seats. We have a person that sits right at the locker room doors and when she sees someone coming up she notifies the rest of the crew.
DM Are all the crew members employees?
AS No, we are all volunteers. We are not paid for what we do. All of us are just Nebraska fans.
DM So I guess your pay is getting into the game?
AS Yes, we get into the games.
DM How long have you been doing this?
AS I have been doing this for 19 years. I've been the supervisor for about 10 years. The very first game that I worked was the 1985 Florida State game.
DM Do they have a separate crew for the visiting team at the north end zone?
AS Yes, there is. During these next two seasons the visitors will be dressing in the south east corner of the stadium so that crew will become part of the south crew.
DM Will there ever be a time when both teams come out at the same time?
AS I don't know the logisics of that. I haven't been told the times they are coming out. I seriously doubt it. The visiting team will be coming out of the southeast corner of the end zone and cross over to the west sideline. The Huskers will be coming out of the southwest corner just like they always have and cross the field going to the east side. Once they have the lockers in the north end zone expansion done the Huskers will move to the north side. The visiting team will then dress in the Huskers old locker room.
DM Do you have a particular game memory?
AS It would have to be the 1997 Oklahoma game when Coach Osborne got his 250th win. We were part of the select few that were informed that there was going to be a fireworks display after the game.
DM When they come out for the tunnel walk how many fans come down to greet the players when the come out onto the field?
AS I would estimate 4 to 5 hundred. The entire length of the rope is lined 3 to 4 deep. That's pretty much a normal day. For the rivalry teams like Colorado and Oklahoma I would say it is 6 to 7 hundred. Everybody is always enthusiastic when they come out. It's nice to hear.
DM Do you ever get tired of hearing the tunnel walk?
AS Not really. It still sends chills up and down my spine when I hear it. It has become part of the Nebraska tradition and we can look for better things to come in the future.
DM Is there much turn over in the members of your crew?
AS There are about a dozen of them that have been there 15 years plus. There is some turnover because of the fact that we have to show up every Saturday. We have a turnover of about 3 to 4 a year for one reason or another.
DM Is there anything that you would like to add that I haven't asked?
AS For the fans in the southwest corner of the end zone I would ask that they be patient while we get the teams on and off the field. One of our biggest concerns is that people tend to arrive late and want to get right to their seat and sometimes that's just not possible. They would be better to get an early start of be prepared to wait for the team.
DM Alan, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Alan can be reached at this email.