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Nebraska and Michigan State aren’t just legitimate contenders for the Legends Division football title in the Big Ten this fall. They’re also creative partners in terms of student involvement and conference camaraderie. Sparty, Michigan State’s mascot, and Herbie Husker and Lil’ Red, who share that role for Nebraska, were shooting the breeze last month about spoofing this summer’s hit song, Call Me Maybe. Almost as quickly as you can say Boise State at Michigan State on Friday night, Aug. 31, and Southern Miss at Nebraska on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 1, Husker and Spartan mascots began brainstorming.
The result of their collaboration is a three-plus-minute video parody that has received more than a quarter million views on YouTube in less than a week. And here’s the kicker: Since the idea was rolling down a fast track, Nebraska was forced into more innovative collaboration because shooting had to move indoors on a rare rain-drenched day in Lincoln.“We had to be creative because all the iconic outside spots where you normally shoot weren’t available,” Erynn Nicholson said. Nebraska’s Spirit Squad coach did the next best thing. She recruited two senior members of the Husker cheer team – Caitlin Schultz and Ashley Haug – and two senior members from NU’s dance team – Sarah Vaggalis and Mallory Netz – and asked them to “push the envelope” and “play” and make “the sky the limit” while shooting.
Rance Ristau, a senior advertising major at Nebraska, was one of the students involved in the editing process that transformed raw footage from seven Big Ten campuses into a parody project that became the conference version of more renowned efforts on the same Carly Rae Jepsen hit song. “We didn’t really have a goal with it,” Ristau told a blogger. “We just wanted to show some Big Ten camaraderie. In the past year, the Big Ten has had some controversial issues. I think it’s really cool to show we’re all friends in the same conference.”
Other mascots in the parody are Herky the Hawk (Iowa), Goldy Gopher (Minnesota), Brutus Buckeye (Ohio State), Nittany Lion (Penn State) and Bucky Badger (Wisconsin). Illinois, Indiana and Michigan do not have animated mascot characters, and Northwestern and Purdue did not participate in the project. With no delusions about the video-gone-viral reaching Hollywood-type numbers, Nicholson still recommends it for Big Red and Big Ten fans everywhere. “We’re all counting down to our season-opening kickoffs, and we just thought it would be fun to watch while we count down the days,” she said.
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