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Monday, November 9, 2009

Score one for the little guys!

Honda Battle of the Bands has announced its lineup for the 2010 invitational showcase, and it's a little different than you may have expected.

For the past several years, Honda has been a 10 band showcase, featuring two bands each from the MEAC, the SWAC, the CIAA, the SIAC, and HBCU independents. Earlier this year, Honda changed the format: eight bands, featuring one band from each of the conferences above (plus one independent) and three at-large bands. Think the BCS, except that there's no cap on the number of bands that can participate from one conference.

All the prognosticators figured that the MEAC and SWAC (to continue the BCS analogy, think SEC and Big XII) would snatch up all of the at-large bids. The biggest conference thumpers imagined their conference snatching all three, dominating a full half of the Honda lineup. Realists reasonably expected three bids for one conference and two from another.

The results surprised everyone. The SWAC got two bands in, in Southern and Prairie View. The MEAC? One, with an asterisk. FAMU is clearly the MEAC's representative. Judging from the rest of the field, NC Central, which is in its transition to Division I and the MEAC, was counted as an independent.

The CIAA did as expected and put one band into Honda with Virginia State. But the SIAC made out like bandits, with Clark Atlanta, Tuskegee, and Albany State each heading to Atlanta in January. Not only did Boise State and TCU both make the BCS, but Houston snuck in as well.

Voting for Honda participants is a combination of HBCU presidents, band directors, and fans. This may nor be the entire picture, however; there's no telling if there were other bands who turned down their invitations. It's interesting to see this shift in dynamics and I wonder how it will be received by the HBCU bandhead faithful and the fans in general. On the one hand, while Southern, FAMU, and Prairie View are there, perennial star power from the likes of Bethune Cookman will be missed. On the other hand, there are bands who won't "act like they've been there before"--even though each of the bands there has--and may bring out fans for the experience. And of the SIAC bands in particular, Atlanta is an easy trip from Albany, Tuskegee, and of course Clark Atlanta.

Regardless, I'm sure this has been and will continue to be fodder for the folks over at The 5th Quarter, and in fact they've got a new podcast coming out the evening of Tuesday, 11/10. It'll be great to get the perspective from the serious bandheads.
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