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Friday, November 21, 2014

Band on the Road Game of the Week 2014 Week 13


There are plenty of beautiful sights in college football. One is the annual rivalry between USC and UCLA whn they go color on color uniforms. Another is Rose Bowl Stadium itself, where this year's matchup will be played. Butthis isn't afternoon on New Years Day; rather this game will kick off at 5 p.m. In Pasadena, shortly after the sun has retired behind the western stands. Thebright scarlet of USC and brilliant blue of UCLA will be complemented by the same colors in the Spirit of Troy and the Solid Gold Sound.

(Note: I'm completing this post from the road in Lexington. The videos below, added at home, aren't showing up on my phone, so I hope they're there.)
USC:

UCLA:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

High Notes, 2014 Week 12

So first of all, it's been a guys' weekend of sorts: My wife and daughter are up in MD for a birthday party, so it's just been me and my 10 month old son. We're doing guy stuff, like... napping. And bottles.

But in all seriousness, I did get to take in more football this weekend than I typically do, and while said napping it taking place on one of our parts (I'll let you guess which one) I'm getting high notes up in a far more timely fashion.

Back when I demystified High Notes, I mentioned FSU by name as one who does a poor job meeting the Variety criterion. Still, the Marching Chiefs were omnipresent in last night's victory over Miami. The Hurricanes tend to put them in the rafters of SunLife Stadium, and despite that - or perhaps because of it - they were nearly all you heard, despite the Band of the Hour having plenty of opportunity, as Miami led for most of the game. Despite Variations on a War Chant Theme, this week's high notes citation goes unequivocally to the Marching Chiefs

Battle of Lexington

For the first time, College GameDay is headed to the Army-Navy game this year. Not to be outdone, I'm taking in a military showdown myself. It looks like last month's trip to Clemson won't be the last Random Act of Football for the season for me. Next weekend, I'll be headed north to Lexington, VA for the Military Classic of the South.

The annual showdown between The Citadel and VMI pits two of the nation's six senior military colleges against one another in the biggest military matchup outside of the service academies. With VMI's recent realignment, the two are once again conference foes in the Southern Conference. It's no secret I'm a fan of pageantry, and this game will have it in spades, from the corps of cadets, to the VMI Regimental Band (no word yet of Citadel's going band on the road in this one) and all that goes with it. Hell, the two battle for a Silver Shako.

Because I'm seldom one to visit a new place and simply get in and get out, I may be taking in a bit of history while I'm in town. Lexington has its share of Civil War history - much of it Confederate - including the burial place of Stonewall Jackson and his former house. It's worth noting that both institutions played a significant role in the Civil War. There's also a marker commemorating the Lexington Triad, the three national social fraternities (Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha Order, and Sigma Nu) founded in Lexington (or, in the case of ATO, elsewhere by VMI students), and my own honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa, was founded at Washington and Lee, also in Lexington.

I look forward to what promises to be a different tailgating and pregame experience. Alcohol is prohibited on post; there's parking throughout Lexington as well, and I'm unsure of that is where, culturally, the tailgates with alcohol take place. I may forego it anyway, however, both because I'm traveling solo and because there's plenty to catch on post in the form of gameday parades. There's no telling what may add to the atmosphere with Citadel in town as well, so I intend to keep my options open. On the back end, there's a good chance I make my way to Blue Lab Brewing, not far from VMI.

As always, while I'm up there, feel free to keep an eye on this space, or, for more real time information, follow on FacebookTwitter, or Fancred.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week, 2014 Week 12

First, I could use a bit of feedback. I didn't drop a High Notes this week, so while I aim to give y'all at least a little something, I'm by no means 100% on any given season. Is that bothersome? Can't promise I'll change, but it's nice to know if you care.

That said, let's get into week 12 action. The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry will play out between the hedges, and while it no longer necessarily has playoff implications, it always means something when these two get together. For such a southern matchup, both bands sure love the Union army's Battle Hymn of the Republic, though...

Auburn:

Georgia:

November to Remember

You never forget your first time.

This November (ok, technically the first poll dropped in late October) major college football is engaging, for the first time, in a run up to a playoff.  Some critics claimed that adding a playoff, even a barely-a-playoff playoff like the current four team configuration, would cheapen the regular season, but at least so far, the opposite seems to be true: Teams that would have been counted out in previous season have legitimate reason to believe that if things break the right way, they may find themselves in the final four.

Part of this is through the use of the committee, which no one's certainly figured out yet, and we may never since human subjectivity injects randomness. While no poll matters until the final one in early December, each rendition provides more insight into what the committee values. And moreso than with two final teams, folks pay particular attention to the "if the season ended today" top four.

There was some consternation when the first poll came out with three SEC West teams among the top four, but that would, of course, work itself out, as it may completely when Mississippi State plays Alabama. This past week, a bone of contention was that an undefeated FSU dropped to third behind a one loss Oregon team, which rose to #2. The order of these two, if the season ended today (ITSET needs to become a common shorthand) would change absolutely nothing but jersey color - and we've seen FSU go color-on-color in last year's ACC title game - as the two would still meet in a "neutral" site game on the west coast in the Rose Bowl. In fact one could argue FSU may fare better at #4 - while the Sugar Bowl would also be closer to home for Mississippi State, it's also a far more manageable trip from Tallahassee.

Another sticking point is TCU vs. Baylor. If the two win out, both will be Big 12 co-champions. Baylor owns the head-to-head over TCU following an overtime victory over the Frogs, and yet at least at present, TCU has the edge in the polls. It seems the committee sets out to reward strength of schedule, and TCU's is stronger, though the variance really hinges upon one game. Both play nine conference games in the Big 12, and both met SMU - which, schedule strength aside, ought to continue, as it's a logical in state (in metro for TCU) and former Southwest Conference game for each. Once you discount each school's FCS opponent, the difference lies in TCU playing Minnesota as Baylor played Buffalo. This puts two criteria at odds with one another: All things being equal, which carries more weight, schedule strength or head-to-head?

We'll keep learning more as the season marches on. Speaking of marching on, any word yet on if the playoff games and the national championship will feature a proper halftime?

Friday, November 7, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week: 2014 Week 11

I neglected last week; it was Homecoming at my employer, and while in the past I've given high notes to someone in our parade, it was, sadly, cancelled this year due to weather.

This week, I was almost inclined to give you a triple header of games that have both playoff implications and marching band interest. When I first compiled Band on the Road this year, K-State mentioned a trip to TCU as a "possible". The Pride of Wildcatland hasn't updated this, so finding no evidence to confirm their trip, I won't be including this purple Big 12 showdown.

In a game that's often had title implications, LSU is more relegated to the role of spoiler as the Crimson Tide and Million Dollar Band come to town for a night game in Death Valley. Somehow, I don't think that'll make the Tiger faithful any less enthusiastic.

Alabama:

LSU:


Lest I be accused of SEC bias, there's interest a good deal further north as Ohio State and Michigan State revisit last year's Big Ten title game. That was the first and last time the two will play for the title, as they're now both aligned in the East, but this could very well be the knockout game for both schools' Big Ten championship game and playoff hopes.

Ohio State:

Michigan State:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Take the Field

The field for the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands is set. If it feels like it's stacked, it's because it is.

With all respect due to the CIAA, SIAC, and lower level independents, by and large the MEAC and SWAC, the two HBCU conferences that place Division I ball, also host the heavier hitters in the marching band world. As with last year, both of the big conferences boast three participants; the SWAC will feature Alabama State, Jackson State, and Southern, while the MEAC will have Honda perennial Bethune Cookman, newcomer Howard, and reigning champion North Carolina A&T in the lineup. Tennessee State, a Division I participant in the Ohio Valley Conference, will also join the field, giving the Honda an unprecedented seven DI programs in the lineup. Talladega College, from the NAIA ranks with a marching band in only its third year of existence, rounds out the top 8. And while one could see this as a "bless their hearts" pick, I hear they've been turning heads at 'Dega.

Worth noting: The rules in terms of conference participation have changed over the course of Honda's 13 year existence. From its second year in 2004 until 2009, Honda invited two bands from each of the aforementioned HBCU conferences and two independents. In 2010, when they started including eight bands instead of ten,  they switched to one band per conference with the remainder being at-large selections. For the first time since Honda's inception, not all four conferences are represented; in fact, both the CIAA and SIAC are completely left out of this year's competition. Time will tell if clamoring from participants in those conferences keeps this from happening again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Telltale Tuesday

Tuesday represents two grand unveilings from both sides of the 80 Minutes fence. The first, the field for the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands, will be a done deal for the late January battle. The second, the inaugural release of the College Football Playoff standings, is but a draft; even still, it's as anticipated a version as any. Because the Playoff committee has no hard and fast criteria from which to derive their rankings, this first look may give us a bit of insight into what the committee values and will reward going forth. While we will all anxiously await the early December release of the final rankings that will set the playoff field and place teams into the other major bowls, this will give us a first taste of what we've got to chew on from here on out.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Missing the Beat



While a sizable portion of the bandosphere is in front of television sets - some in spite of themselves -  this Monday night watching Drumline 2, I won't be. I'll miss viewing live for two reasons: The first is that it's Homecoming at my employer, so I've got a work obligation; the second is that I no longer have cable, so I wouldn't be able to see it even if I were home.

I realize the fact that I'm missing a made-for-TV movie is a non-story. and yet somehow I feel a duty. Not just a duty to you, dear reader, but to my history with the first Drumline movie, having been an early adopter in all of its forms, going to bat for the film against corps style kids and continuing to believe that while it may not have been the best movie (though I love it), it was undoubtedly an important movie for marching/athletic music. It is a duty I may feel stronger than the film's own producers, or else we may be a stronger showing than a straight-to-TV sequel a dozen years later.

I'll see it in due time; hopefully sooner rather than later, depending on its availability on Hulu Plus. And when I do, expect a full report.

Friday, October 24, 2014

BOTR Game of the Week: 2014 Week 9

There are a few band trips worth noting, including rivalries like UNC-UVA - sure to gather a bit more attention in light of news in Chapel Hill - Alabama and Tennessee's Third Saturday in October (playing out, naturally, on the fourth Saturday in October), and Alabama vs. Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic in Birmingham. I'm headed out west, however, for one of just two matchups this weekend between top 25 teams: USC at Utah in a crucial Pac-12 South showdown.

USC:

Utah:

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