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Saturday, September 20, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week: 2014 Week 4

Sorry I shorted you last week; busy-ness at work continued with IFC fraternity recruitment. Partially as makeup and partially because I became aware of one of these late, I've got two for you this week.

In the first, the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band heads to the Big D for an out-of-conference matchup against SMU's Mustang Band. SMU is sporting a shiny new band room and sure to bring their A game against one of the state's big boys.

Texas A&M:


I also just became aware that the UMass Minuteman Band is making the trip south to Happy Valley to take on Penn State's Blue Band. The Power and Class of New England's trip makes this a dual Sudler matchup, and it's also Band Day in Beaver Stadium, so it should be a good one.


Penn State:

Off the Dot

There were a few things that related to college marching band over the past nearly two weeks that I found worth noting. I had intended to include the first as an 8vb footnote to last week's high notes. Sunday before last, Bethune-Cookman's Marching Wildcats performed at halftime as the Carolina Panthers visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While I don't know what caused the timing issue, the band was ultimately on the field with only a few minutes remaining of halftime, a time typically reserved for kickers to take practice shots at the field goal. Panthers kicker Graham Gano was not deterred by the band on the field, going so far as to shove a trombone player out of the way to get position for a kick, which caused a sax player to move to avoid catching a football to the instrument.

In the time that followed, there was a good deal of "I wish a kicker would," particularly from HBCU bandsfolk. I applaud the Marching Wildcats for keeping their composure. I've stated before that I'm irked even when kickers "share" the field with a smaller band - I've seen this in action with Duke and Wake Forest's bands - but to kick from within the organization, much less to put your hands on a college student as a professional athlete, is unacceptable. Still, Gano did at least call the player in question, Marquel Ballard, and apologize, even offering tickets and sideline passes as the Panthers play the division rival Falcons, Ballard's team.

As for the second: At some point or another, I'm sure most folks with an affinity for marching bands have wished, silently or aloud, for more coverage. I'll note that when requesting such to whomever in your cosmic sphere, one must realize that it doesn't mean the people talking about it will be the most knowledgeable. This past weekend was alumni band day at Ohio State, and despite not typically being band friendly, ESPN has always loved to showcase the Script Ohio. With alumni in the house, they executed a quad Script Ohio. Matt Millen was on the call for the game, and referred to TBDBITL as "the most athletic band in all of college football".

Wait, what?

Understand that no shade is mean to Ohio State, but I'm not sure I'd give them that distinction in their own state or their own conference. While athleticism may be difficult to objectively quantify, range of motion is a good place to start. And while the traditional step and the ramp entrance at 180 put them at least above a good deal of corps style units (sorry not sorry), I think Ohio University's Marching 110 and Wisconsin's Badger Band out-athlete them handily, and those are just two that came immediately to mind. Continue the conversation with HBCUs and Millen's statement very easily becomes a clown one. That's not to say that they're not amazing at what they do, but his quote had no basis in logic.

I know I shorted y'all on a Game of the Week this past week; this time through it was recruitment for the men of the InterFraternity Council. I hope to get back on track shortly!

Friday, September 12, 2014

High Notes - 2014 Week 2

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I work professionally in fraternity and sorority life. This past week was Panhellenic sorority recruitment, making my high note of the week Bid Day. As a corollary, I didn't watch a whole lot of football this past weekend. This weekend I find myself in a similar situation, with IFC fraternity recruitment; that event wraps up on Saturday, but after that is some much-needed family time, so I may or may not find myself in front of a TV at all this Saturday.

That said, there's some good stuff out there. It's likely you've caught Ohio State's TV Land show form this past weekend, which impressed amidst a losing effort from the football team, and there's a good deal else out there as well. With each passing week and year, there are folks who are more on point about sharing what marching/athletic music has to offer, and for someone who isn't in a stadium nearly as often as I'd like, I certainly appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Defence Of

This isn't the first time I've been in the corner of UnderArmour and the University of Maryland, College Park on a uniform, and it probably won't be the last. But the "1812" uniform that will be worn this weekend as the Terps take on WVU may be instant one for the ages.

This coming college football weekend - the one that sits closest to September 11 - has for years been one that has invoked patriotic-inspired uniforms in teams. UnderArmour has often been the supplier, and at times the culprit of ill-advised uniforms. Here, they went a slightly different route with their flagship program, and the result is nothing short of amazing. This weekend also commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812; it is this battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which would ultimately become the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem. The uniform features the text of the poem on its sleeves, helmet, and cleats. Players will wear a red belt reminiscent of those worn by American military officers of the day, and the helmet logo is a star-spangled outline of Fort McHentry, which conveniently resembles a turtle. UnderArmour took what had become an old meme in uniforms and gave it a refresh that's positively Maryland, and I love it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week 2014 Week 2

Week 2 of the college football season is always the subito piano to week 1's sforzando. After some high caliber band and football matchups, not to mention five straight days of the stuff. If week 1's a loaded buffet, week 2's a meager salad bar. And on the Band on the Road front, there are only two confirmed FBS trips this week.

One answer would be easy. I'm steeped in east coast bias, and have a strong proclivity for traditional style marching and Sudler Trophy winners. Add the history of the final consecutive running of the rivalry and the rare night game beneath Touchdown Jesus, and Michigan-Notre Dame's the obvious choice. Except that I remembered, correctly, that they occupied this spot last year.

Perhaps it's just a step above "by default", but I'm instead taking it out west, where the Spirit of Troy will travel to take on the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band as USC clashes with Stanford in one of this weekend's matchups of ranked teams.



Friday, September 5, 2014

High Notes 2014 Week 1

Really, is there any higher note than the return of football itself? I'd offer that there isn't.

I'm in a different situation this year as it relates to college football viewing. My wife and I got rid of cable about a year and a half ago, so I'm now entering my second football season without it. That said, until recently I had a *ahem* situation that at least allowed me access to ESPN content. This since has dried up, leaving me access to only those games that are televised on the major networks. It's not a horrible deal; I get the big game on ABC, SEC on CBS, home Notre Dame on NBC, and whatever Fox shows, plus typically ACC action on local TV here in NC. I can also still watch the internet/WatchESPN-based ESPN3, which boded well for me this weekend as USF's game was on it.

On the marching side of the equation, I'm fortunate that, above and beyond what I can glean from stands performances while watching games, more and more spaces online are sharing great marching content in near-real time. NBC Sports was quick to highlight the Band of the Fighting Irish, and Southern's Band on the Road performance at Louisiana was available quickly as well. Outlets like Eight to Five Entertainment improve their offerings year to year and week by week, and College Marching is, like myself, amplifying whatever is out there.

For Week 1's High Notes citation I head down to Brighthouse Networks Stadium in Orlando, FL. While the home team was off in Ireland, the cable box played host to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, typically held in the Citrus Bowl which is currently under renovation. Being in Greensboro, I'm used to A&T's particular brand of excellence, but I don't get nearly the same look at SWAC schools on a regular basis, and the Marching Maroon and White came to play as well. The folks over at Eight to Five were all over the coverage there, so I got to see both bands show up and show out.

Quick note for the coming weekend of action: For my day job - you know, the one that pays me - I work in fraternity and sorority life, and this week is Panhellenic recruitment on my campus. As such, I don't know how much I'll have to contribute this coming weekend, since I know I won't get much viewing in. Thanksfully, sources like those pointed out above make it a bit easier to see what's going on, even if it's not live.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week 2014 Week 1

It's back! Another college football season is upon us, and with it, another go-round of the Band on the Road Game of the Week. As is typical for week 1, there are quite a few marquee matchups both during gametime and during halftime. Gameday's in the Metroplex for FSU-Oklahoma State at Jerry World, but the defending champs are only sending a pep band. If this were the tailgate game of the week, I'd be VERY interested in the Wisconsin-LSU matchup in Houston. But with all due respect to the neutral site games, I'm bringing it to campus, as the Band that Shakes the Southland travels down between the hedges as Clemson takes on Georgia and the intersectional rivals prepare to fight like, well, cats and dogs.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Band on the Road 2014

There are a few surefire signs that college football is fast approaching. The annual college football magazines come out. Players return to campus to begin fall practice. Your favorite college football media increase in frequency. More recently, as a celebration immediately preceding the first college football Saturday, College Colors Day urges fans to get into the spirit with their favorite team gear.

And then there's 8/25.

Three years ago, to commemorate their 25th anniversary, marching shoe brand Dinkles declared 8/25 (Eight T[w]o Five, for the marching aficionados) International Dinkles Day. I've since seen fit to seize it as a commemoration of all things marching. The date play on words notwithstanding,  it also tends to fall in the week leading up to the return of college football and marching.

For the second year, 8/25 also mark the release of the Band on the Road Project.

Now in its fourth year, Band on the Road chronicles road trips taken by college marching bands. While the groundwork has been laid by research, Band on the Road is a fully editable spreadsheet, allowing all users to contribute with knowledge they have of band travel. The database is for band fans and football fans alike; after all, when traveling to an away game of your favorite team, it's great to know if there will be a little slice of home there with you.

New for 2014
As much as it hurt my heart as an alumnus of the American Athletic Conference's USF Bulls, the original inclusion of BCS conferences translated to simply including the Power Five conferences as the new iteration of college football's elite. As I said when debuting the series, sticking to those conferences is by scope, not slight; narrowing in this manner allows for a manageable load when inputting the original data. However, because the document is fully editable, anyone with a passion for the other conferences - or even FCS, Division II, or Division III schools - can certainly add them.

I also changed the manner that I include historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Because their passion for college marching is unparalleled, I couldn't create such a list without including HBCUs in some format. Previously, I stuck with the MEAC and SWAC, the two Division I (FCS) HBCU conferences, again for the sake of scope. This year's change involves some give and take: I included all of the classics, which omits the week-to-week for MEAC/SWAC schools but includes classics between Division II programs.

Even with one conference down (though to be fair, the American only contributed four confirmed travel games) bands traveling this year slightly out pace last year's road games, 106-102. New columns denote the number of trips per conference, as well as the number of non-conference visiting bands, though the latter is decidedly slim because the only bands from outside the power conferences included are those noted by the host band's site. And while one of my working documents - a highlighted version of's helmet schedules - notated speculations of road bands, the numbers here nearly exclusively include travel that was confirmed in some way by band schedule. In a few cases, bands indicate that at least a pep band attends all road conference games; in those instances, such games are included in the schedule. The small amounts of speculation included here are major rivalry games where travel is a foregone conclusion, though neither band explicitly stated it.

All in all, this document gets more robust with each passing year, both as my research improves and more bands make calendars available. Again, any omissions or mistakes you may see are editable, and I empower all users to make those changes as they see fit. Moreover, I will be updating during the course of the season as I notice road bands when watching football, and invite you to do the same.

Happy football/marching season!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Before the Clock Starts: SEC

Before the Clock Starts is back for a third year, and this time, we're doing full conferences.

As with last year, we'll take a look at what college bands do before the clock starts: The pregame show. Designed to set the tone for the football game to follow, pregame shows are, by design, high-energy, crowd-focused, and school-centric. On the final Saturday before football rejoins our lives, we conclude with the SEC.

With all conferences, I look for the most recent representation I could find, and in many cases, those came from this past season. With a few schools, I had to look further back, and with just a handful, there was no true video at all. I'd love to see these schools step up and give us something to appreciate!

Getting antsy and want to see all schools? Here's the master playlist.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Before the Clock Starts: Pac-12

Before the Clock Starts is back for a third year, and this time, we're doing full conferences.

 As with last year, we'll take a look at what college bands do before the clock starts: The pregame show. Designed to set the tone for the football game to follow, pregame shows are, by design, high-energy, crowd-focused, and school-centric. At two weeks until the start of the new season, we continue with the Pac-12.

With all conferences, I look for the most recent representation I could find, and in many cases, those came from this past season. With a few schools, I had to look further back, and with just a handful, there was no true video at all. I'd love to see these schools step up and give us something to appreciate!

Getting antsy and want to see all schools? Here's the master playlist.