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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Clash

Earlier this month, Clash of the Corps debuted on Fuse. Produced by The Rock's Seven Bucks Productions, Clash of the Corps follows the 2016 drum corps season through the eyes of two corps: The Blue Devils and The Cadets. The Rock previewed the first episode the day before it aired on his Facebook page, and since then, three episodes have aired, treating us thus far to both corps' training camps, Blue Devils' first performance and Cadets' preview show. We've gotten to know quite a few of the members, both corps directors, and several other members of the staff.

The show leaps right into the action without a bunch of exposition or explanation as to what exactly drum corps is. It's a little surprising, since I think corps fans often feel the need to explain first, but they're either counting on the likely audience already being familiar (I'm sure most of us are) or the story carrying well enough without the audience knowing a mellophone from a baritone (and so far, it does). It focuses on the two most decorated corps in the activity, though knowing how last season went, I'm certain the Bluecoats are watching like:
Despite the false dichotomy, I've really enjoyed the show so far. I'm interested to see if we see much of the other corps as the season wears on. They seem to be playing the show to sports crowds as well, giving us easy-to-recognize venues like the Rose Bowl and Lucas Oil Stadium, where Blue Devils and Cadets began their respective seasons. One thing I hope to see and hear more of as the show continues are the actual corps. There has been a lot of scoring thus far, even as the corps are playing; I don't know if that's a stylistic choice, or done in part to avoid copyright issues.

If you're not already watching, Clash of the Corps airs at 11pm ET on Fuse, and can be found afterwards on Hulu and the Fuse app and website.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

All Hail

It's been a rough two week stretch for the State University of New Jersey. Last weekend, Ohio State blanked Rutgers to the tune of 58-0 in the Horseshoe. In round two of a rousing game of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better between the archrivals, Michigan headed to Piscataway and handed the Scarlet Knights at 78-0 loss last night. In the second half, the Rutgers Band, perhaps weary from a dearth of their own fight song, did something few would have have anticipated:

They serenaded the visiting Michigan fans with their own fight song, The Victors.

Odd though it may seem, the individual pieces, if not the combination, are consistent. Rutgers' band knows The Victors because they've fallen in step with a tradition in their new conference: Playing their opponent's fight song as part of the pregame. And while this use seems unorthodox, I'm told that the home band playing for opposing fans isn't unheard of. Still, in the seventh and eighth scoreless quarters against division rivals, I'm sure it was salt in the wound of the home fans, and a plume in the shako of Michigan fans who witnessed the thorough demoralization of the Scarlet Knights, who earned their first first down in the fourth quarter. Still, given the lyrics to the Michigan Fight song, there may have been no more fitting of a tribute:

Hail! to the victors valiant 
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes 
Hail! Hail! to Michigan the leaders and best

Conqu'ring heroes, indeed.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

BOTR Game of the Week, 2016 Week 5

I could wave to the traveling band in Week 5's Game of the Week as the pass me on the highway. Today, in Tobacco Road's longest stretch, Wake Forest's Spirit of the Old Gold and Black travels east to Raleigh to take on NC State's Power Sound of the South.

Wake Forest
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NC State
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There are no confirmed full band on the road games on the SEC Network today, so for What to Watch For, I'll point you to Baton Rouge where the Golden Band from Tigerland will perform right around the time the sun finds its home in the western sky. After the dismissal of Les Miles, interim head coach Ed Orgeron will start his tenure in a famed LSU night game against Mizzou.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

High Notes, 2016 Week 4

After about two years of doing weekly High Notes, I decided to open up the playbook, for noteworthy weekend happenings that were beyond just marching, but were in other adjacents like tailgating, food, travel, beer, and the like.

The funny thing is, I don't think I've every explicitly noted football, except when it was paired with the band performance.

One of this week's high notes changes that. in the late-but-not-too-late hours of Saturday night, I got to witness a bit of Pac-12 After Dark, as the Stanford-UCLA game was at a reasonable 8pm local time for us east coasters (though I'm not gonna lie, I still stayed up for the far less reasonable Arizona State-Cal game). The ending was great by all accounts, unless you're a gambler and lost out on Stanford's front door cover. Still, that the Cardinal found a way to win on a late game drive down the field was the sort of thing those of us with an east coast bias tend to miss out on.

Call me basic, but I've long loved a good fall festival, and North Carolina is not in short supply this time of the year. My kids and I went to two here in the Triad, though from their standpoint, I took them to a couple of fields they delighted in running around.

Finally, this weekend marked the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and in a clip I sadly only saw in Instagram's story (so it's gone now), Howard University's Showtime Marching Band was there, fittingly, to help celebrate.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Taking a Knee

This football season, many have been using the ubiquitous playing of the National Anthem at sporting events as a platform for protest. Most notably spearheaded by the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, players and others have remained seated, taken a knee, or raised a clinched fist to protest injustice, most notably police brutality and the deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement.

The protests have now hit the band world.

In a week where both Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and KeithnScott in Charlotte lost their lives to police, members of at least two college bands joined in the spirit of protest. In Chapel Hill, members of the Marching Tar Heels protested. As a formidable mass in the student section remained seated, fists raised, at least two Marching Tar Heels took a knee and did not play.

The night before in Dallas, five members of SMU's Mustang Band took a knee but continued to play during the anthem. Of particular note in this instance, SMU was using the game to honor five Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patricio Zamarripa, who were killed in an ambush during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest following police related killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in a tragically bloody stretch this summer.

Much as NFL and other franchises have each handled protesting players differently, it remains to be seen how bands will address protests from within their ranks.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BOTR Game of the Week, 2016 Week 4

Unlike most USF alumni, I didn't grow up in Florida, so I was never in the position of having to shake off old allegiances and bad habits before becoming a Bull. That said, if I have anything that resembles fanhood of any of Florida's Big Three, it's the Florida State Seminoles, who I've seen and rooted for plenty, as a good friend of mine is an alum. But while I may say Go Noles more often than not, no one's surprised I'm not in their corner today. I'm sure it's equally unsurprising that the Marching Chiefs' trip to Raymond James to take on the Herd of Thunder - now already in progress - is this week's Band on the Road Game of the Week.



For the What to Watch on SEC Network+, there are no confirmed Band on the Road games from that slate, so I'll default to the early catch: Kent State at Alabama. The Marching Golden Flashes aren't coming to Alabama, but getting to catch the Million Dollar Band is certainly no consolation.

High Notes, 2016 Week 3

It was one of those Saturdays where I didn't see a whole ton of football, and I was perfectly fine with that. It's the busy part of the semester - recruitment, and my Saturday began with Bid Day for our InterFraternity Council. The rest of the weekend gave me the chance to spend time with family, which is more than I can say the previous weekend with Panhellenic recruitment. I met my wife and kids in downtown Greensboro where we hung out at Pride for a bit, and then they headed home while I made a quick pit stop to Greensboro's Greek Festival to grab us some food (that gyro was the real MVP).

That evening, my wife and daughter went to a theatrical production downtown, and my son and I met them later  - past their bedtimes - to check out the ferris wheel that was downtown that evening. All in all, it was a great Saturday to spend here in the Gate City, football or no. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

MOB Mentality

They went there.

Rice's Marching Owl Band is a scramble band. Most are familiar with Stanford, the only such example from the Power Five, with Cal having changed its ways a half century ago and the Virginia Pep Band being banned from athletic events back in 2003. Such bands remain popular in the Ivy League, and their MO across the board is to provide social commentary and poke fun at the opposing team or area. Oh, and sometimes play some music. Tonight, as Baylor played at Rice, the MOB made clear references to the ongoing scandal at Baylor, which identified a massive university failure to appropriately address sexual assault and uncovered wrongdoing within the football program which, among other things, cost former head coach Art Briles his job. While many would consider referencing such a serious situation with frivolity in a halftime show in poor taste, the MOB went right after it, with on field formations giving nods to (Title) IX and (ousted Baylor president and chancellor Kenneth) Star(r).

Years ago, when it was improbable but still mathematically possible that Penn State and Stanford would meet in a bowl shortly after the Jerry Sandusky scandal, I wondered aloud: If the two were to meet, would the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band go there? While we never learned that specific answer, Rice may have shown us tonight that there's nothing off limits.

Friday, September 16, 2016

BOTR Game of the Week, 2016 Week 3

In this week's matchups, there's perhaps no interconferene game more anticipated than Ohio State-Oklahoma. Both blueblood programs who have each made an appearance in the College Football Playoff, the game could mean redemption for an already once-defeated Oklahoma, or a bellwether for Ohio State.

Oh, and the band matchup, between a pair of Sudler-winning programs, isn't half bad either.

Ohio State:


In this week's What to Watch - highlighting a halftime you can actually see via SEC Network+, another Ohio band goes on the road as the Marching 110 of Ohio University head south to Neyland Stadium to take on the Pride of the Southland. SEC Network+ coverage opens at 1pm; my strategy has been to open the feed and keep an eye on the game clock as the second quarter winds down.

In Flight

There's been quite the flight out of the state that boasts of being first in it.

Back in March, the North Carolina legislature passed HB2, a bill that, among other things, requires individuals to use the bathrooms that correspond with their sex as listed on their birth certificate, regardless of gender identity. The bill's original passing garnered criticism from many, including many in the sports world, but in the past couple of months, leagues have been voting with their dollars, hitting the state majorly by moving events elsewhere.

The NBA took flight first, moving the 2017 All-Star Game originally scheduled for Charlotte. New Orleans is the beneficiary (sound familiar, Hornets fans?) despite Atlanta dirty macking on the game as far back as April. But two more shoes dropped in the past week: The NCAA pulled out all non-campus-based tournaments and championships; of most impact to me was the first and second rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, scheduled for here in Greensboro. But in the most meaningful move yet, the ACC pulled its championships from North Carolina, including the football championship from Charlotte and the women's basketball tournament from Greensboro. That even this league would pull from North Carolina is particularly telling; the ACC was founded here in Greensboro and has called the state home for 63 years. Four of its prominent institutions, including perhaps the nation's biggest basketball rivalry, are located here. Their willingness to take this stand speaks volumes. No word yet as to where either is headed, though sources (and I've got my own, not just Brett "Sources" McMurphy) say football is in talks with Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

While I'm sad that I'll miss out on the events, I'm happy to see these leagues take a stand.
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