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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going All 80

(Today's a great example of "The best laid plans of mice and men..." I had meant to post this before the first games began, but life gets in the way. I'll keep that which I already wrote in its original tense; hope it's not too confusing.)

In the waning hours before the college football season officially kicks off (or, more accurately from my perspective, before the first pregames step off) I can hardly contain my excitement. Each year, the return of the college football/marching season is like seeing an old friend. It also gives me an added jolt to make things happen here--while I have sports/activities I follow year round, the fall is where my true passion lies.

What can you expect from me this season? Simply--and hopefully--more. I'll definitely return to the High Notes feature I began last year. The Band on the Road Project is, of course, a huge addition, and now that I've gotten that as complete as possible, I may look to add a matchup of the week-type feature. Another thought is some sort of recognition of those who go "All 80"--that is, excel during the 60 minutes of the game and the 20 minutes of halftime. I will say this, however: My commitment to "more" is tempered by the fact that this will be my daughter Anastasia's first football season, so time will only tell what my fall Saturday schedule will look like.

I thought of doing something bombastic prior to the season like an "All 80" Top 25, or conference champions. Here's what makes this difficult. There's relatively little coverage of college marching bands to be found, and virtually nothing that addresses these bands in the macro sense. That's simply a declarative statement, it's not meant to read as "woe is me" or "look at me, I'm special". That said, while I've got at least some familiarity with most marching bands isn the BCS auto-qualifying conferences (and quite a few more from the non-AQ and FCS ranks) I've got no intel on how they may change year to year, like who's looking particularly strong in band camp or who graduated a bunch of seniors and has a young snare line.

There is one recognition I do want to make: College football's "All 80" division. While you've heard me tout my love of Big Ten marching and point out that both the Legends and Leaders divisions have five of six bands holding a Sudler Trophy, All 80 recognition has to go to the SEC West. On the football side of things, division members Auburn, Alabama, and LSU have won three of the last four BCS national championships. Marching-wise, their three respective bands all have Sudler Trophies and, from what I've seen, have kept on trucking--in fact, I recognized each of them in High Notes last season and gave Auburn an All 80 recognition before I had even coined the concept. The division has another Sudler in the Arkansas Razorback Band, and should Texas A&M join the fray, will have yet another. I think it's a pick that football fans and band fans alike would have a hard time disputing.

As I wrap this up, a couple of Band on the Road games are already underway. So glad to have it all back!
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