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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

High Notes 2011: Week 13

It's was Thanksgiving weekend, and everyone's getting leftover high notes recognitions. I've got quite a few to pass out:

They already got their own post, but I'd like to hand it to both Southern and Grambling for showing up and showing out in the Bayou Classic. And again, big ups to NBC Sports for their coverage.

Secondly, I'll revisit Texas and Texas A&M, who got Game of the Week honors this past week. They met for the last time in football for the foreseeable future, and were part of the backdrop in a great piece by Spencer Hall from Every Day Should be Saturday.

Finally, I intended to say earlier that as football and basketball season overlap, it was not inconceivable to see me pull a recognition from the pep band ranks. Well, I stayed in the marching band world with this one, but it comes from a basketball game. I watched UNCG and NC A&T face off this week for Greensboro bragging rights. It was an A&T home game in the Greensboro Coliseum, and I was pleasantly surprised that they brought not just a pep band, but the entire Blue and Gold Marching Machine. They some headbussas:


There are plenty of reasons for a playoff in major college football, and it's a topic I've explored before. I tend to before for one in theory, my favorite model being the four team playoff (aka "plus one"); still there's always been one piece of it that doesn't resonate with me, and that piece may be rearing its ugly head as we speak.

As we head into championship weekend, the internet is abuzz with rumors that the Big Ten is hiring seat-fillers for its inaugural championship game in Indianpolis where Wisconsin will face Michigan State.While I don't know if this is true or not, it wouldn't be a unique occurrence; the ACC championship game has featured empty seats, especially when held on the outskirts of the conference in Florida. The Pac-12 is starting its games at campus sites with the hope of avoiding exactly that. But if you're team's playing for the throne in your conference, why on earth wouldn't you be there?

Because you're looking down the road. Especially in this tight economy, folks are making decisions with their entertainment dollars, and it makes attending multiple travel games difficult. Let's take Wisconsin and Michigan State. The winner of this game will be headed to the Rose Bowl, but the loser won't end up too bad off, and will probably find themselves booking flights to Florida New Year's Day bowl game, given the Big Ten's tie-ins. If you can only make it to one, where are you headed? This problem is exacerbated many times over with the addition of any playoff scenario, even just a plus-one. More than perhaps any other sport, college football is about the fans, the tailgating, the marching bands, the cheerleaders, and all sorts of other elements to create the full experience we know and love as college football. When you add the potential of two more travel games--in some conferences in addition to their conference championship game--you make it prohibitive for fans to attend, especially students and recent alumni.  With the playoffs looming, will we see more empty seats at conference championship games, or vice versa?

i would make and continue to make the argument that someone needs to be done to the current system, but I hope that if/when this is considered, all of these pieces are part of the picture as well. Those trying to sell the idea of a playoff to the media have pushed the idea that the additional games would make money hand over fist in TV revenue. And while that may be the case, I'd hate to see the live element suffer because of it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NBC: Network for Band Coverage

I've lauded NBC before for their online coverage of the halftime shows for Notre Dame football. This weekend, they get continued respect from me for more of the same. NBC televised the Bayou Classic between Southern and Grambling, and while I didn't watch the live telecast, i know that at the very least, the marching bands got coverage on, much in the same manner Notre Dame enjoys. While I'm sure there are contracts compelling them to do such in each case, they seem to take a little more pride in the craft than, say, the lip service the Worldwide Leader gives band coverage when commanded. In fact, moreso than the Notre Dame games, it seems that the production crew for the Bayou Classic was truly trying ot use the various shots to portray both bands in the best light. The ENTIRE field show was available in each case, and even better, they remain available online.

Southern Univeresity Human Jukebox:

Grambling State University World-Famed Tiger Marching Band:

NBC, I salute you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Calling It Boscov's

Mets fans who don't acknowledge this new-fangled business they call "Citi Field" have t-shirt that say "I'm Calling It Shea", in honor of the Mets' old home. Other cities have similar sentiments that wax nostalgic for their former stadiums. As a fan of the 6abc Thanksgiving Day Parade, currently presented by Dunkin Donuts, I need a similar shirt: I'm Calling It Boscov's.

My wife and I are hosting Thanksgiving here in Greensboro this year. While I'm unsure how many times we'll be able to pull this off (we usually go on the road to Maryland and Delaware), it being our daughter's first Thanksgiving certainly helps. The Boscov's Parade, not the Macy's Parade, was always my Thanksgiving parade of choice, due in no small part to the fact that the Alexis I. duPont Tiger Marching Band does it each year. I marched in it myself for three years, and I think I speak for most Tiger Band alumni when I say the memories of that cold stick with you. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it'll be coming into my home today, despite being well outside the typical viewing area. The Tiger Marching Band and the City of Brotherly Love will indeed make it to my screen, and for that I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

BOTR Game of the Week, Week 13

Goodbye to texas university
So long to the orange and the white... -Aggie War Hymn, Texas A&M University

Texas fight, Texas fight,
And it's goodbye to A&M... -Texas Fight, the University of Texas

For as long as they've known one another, Texas and Texas A&M have been bidding one another adieu. This week, they're singing it for keeps; following this year, Texas A&M will depart Texas' company in the Big XII for the SEC, and with that move, the 118 year rivalry will fall by the wayside for at least the forseeable future. The two will meet in College Station on Thanksgiving evening.

This was a tough week to call. As so many rivalry game take place at this time of year, this matchup was up against the likes  of the Iron Bowl, the Bayou Classic, and Ohio State-Michigan. Still, I had to put this game forth for its historical significance. Farewell to the Lone Star Showdown.

One in 100

I've talked a lot about the FAMU Marching 100 recently, and unfortunately, this time it is not good news. The Marching 100 are currently under suspension in the wake of the suspected hazing death of a drum major during Florida Classic weekend. 26 year old drum major Robert Champion became ill and died after returning to the hotel following the game.

Full disclosure. While I won't claim to be an expert, hazing is something that I have experience with from my day job. I work in the field of student affairs, specifically with campus programming and student organizations, and directly advise a programming board and a fraternity.

That this took place sickens me, and what sickens me more is that this is not a new phenomenon in the Marching 100. The suspension is the least possible punishment for what has allegedly taken place; if these allegations ring true, it becomes an imperative that the Marching 100 be shut down for a period of time.

Don't think for one second that I do not recognize the enormity of those words. While FAMU is a quality institution in many aspects, the 100 arguably helped put--and keep--the university on the map. FAMU is the first and to date the only HBCU to take home the vaunted Sudler Trophy for marching band excellence. The Marching 100 is one of the most respected, most televised, and most revered programs in the marching band world. I know that the loss of the 100 would be devastating to the university, and I don't take it lightly. but people are losing their LIVES over a breed of nonsense that appears to be entirely out of control, and it must come to an end. This would be the case with any other student organization that was this sort of repeat offender--fraternities have lost their charters for less--and it should be no different here. The FAMU Marching 100, as world-renowned as it may be, is not too big to fail.

While the NCAA has no jurisdiction here, I can't help but think, in light of recent infractions in the sports world, how they would handle this. To me, the fact that this is a pervasive problem points exactly to the "lack of institutional control" that is typically a harbinger to a death knell for athletic programs. An article from 2007, when the problem raised its ugly head once again, speaks as though it was a culture that band members and those around them came to expect and even accept. The first article mentions that earlier this year, 30 band members were let go due to hazing incidents. While I can appreciate their attempt to clean house, the fact that has become painfully evident here is that this is not an isolated incident, nor is it limited to a few members going rogue. It seems to be deeply ingrained in the culture of the 100.

As if to hammer this point home, let's take a look at this case. The victim here was a drum major. While FAMU marches six this year, and Champion was not the head drum major, it is clear that drum majors are at the top of the totem pole. Not that hazing is ever right, but the typical model is that leaders in an organization haze younger members so that they "earn their place." That this reached into the highest ranks of the organization makes is clear that there is no end in sight, which is particularly troubling.

I know that with such a prominent organization, there is a desire to circle the wagons and protect the throne. That cannot and should not happen here. As great a marching unit the 100 may be, they cannot put the image of a program over the life of an individual. Here's hoping they do right by Mr. Champion, the reputation of the band and university, and all who will not have to follow in the weary 8-to-5 footsteps marched by so many. Not only the individuals responsible, but also the Marching 100 as a whole must be held accountable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Champions Division

At the beginning of the year, I declared the SEC West my "All 80" Division. This isn't me patting myself on the back by any means. It doesn't take a leap of faith to proclaim excellence in a division that holds three of the last four national championships and holds four Sudler Trophies (adding a fifth when Texas A&M joins the league). Still I don't think anyone could have called where we sit now--with the top three teams in the BCS all hailing from a single division.

This fact comes close to guaranteeing an all-SEC West national championship game, and even allows for the outside possibility that three SEC teams could make the BCS. Currently in the driver's seats  sit LSU and Alabama, who met up a few weeks ago in the GAME. OF. THE. CENTURY. While talk of a potential rematch between these two began before their game and continued afterwards, it's becoming close to reality, a fact which scares some. After all, the first game, a 9-6 LSU overtime victory, was a defensive struggle deemed boring by many. Much like mutant brother Cyclops and Havok, LSU and Alabama were unable to mount any offensive power against one another, and the fear is that we'd be up for more of the same in January with a rematch.

Sitting at #3 is Arkansas, who has the opportunity to play spoiler as they face LSU this weekend. They have sat all season in a role not unlike anyone not named the Yankees or Red Sox in the AL East until recent years:  no matter how well they perform, they are sitting looking up at two behemoths who receive the glut of the media's attention. The Hogs hope to right that this Saturday.

Worth noting: These three SEC West teams occupy the top three spots. A fourth, Auburn, is the reigning national champion. Each of these four is a Sudler Trophy recipient. You know who has to feel worthless in all of this? The entire state of Mississippi. But it seems they are simply content with chanting "SEC!" like the rest and keeping it moving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

[CLASSIC] O-Town Showdown in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (where available)

With the Florida Classic being the point of my focus this week (though unfortunately, due to ESPN Classic having technical difficulties, I didn't even get to watch it) I dug into the archives for a post I made just after attending the Florida Classic Battle of the Bands in the Fall of 2004. Before 80 Minutes of Regulation was ever thought of, I kept a LiveJournal, and while neither sports nor marching/athletic music were the focus, there are posts that speak to that. Here, with limited editing, is that original post.

Actually, there's no audio, but given the auditory nature of the subject matter, it seemed appropriate.

Last night I got the opportunity to see the Bethune-Cookman College Marching Wildcats and the Florida A&M University Marching 100 live for the first time. While I have seen both bands, it's a whole new experience seeing them in person!

What's that, you want to know Curtis' take on who's best of the rivalry? I think I'll give it to the 100, but let me tell you, it was the difference between ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and MORE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. That being said, I think in a battle of the drumlines, I would give it to BCC. A few specific stats on the comparison:
-Snare drums: Advantage: FAMU, but only slightly
-Quads: Advantage: FAMU; difference negligible.
-Cymbals: Advantage: BCC. Both cymbal squads were very impressive, but BCC got bonus point becuase they were slinging 18s, vs. FAMU's 16s. BCC did lose cool points, though, because there was one portion where their cymbal players were being cymbal stands for the snare players. They wre the only band all night to have made that transgression.
-Bass drums: Advantage: BCC by a long shot. They had all the flare of a HBCU band and all the chops and even tonal runs of the Blue Devils bassline. They were amazing.
-Tenors/field drums: Eh, who cares? BCC had chest mounters though, FAMU had strapped field drums.
Of those two, FAMU came out first. As they started out, a decent amount of people were coming out, but I thought they looked a little small. At first I thought they may have only brought a portion of their organization because they were on a 50 yard field (It was in the TD Waterhouse Center, home of Arena Football's Orlando Predators) and they are 300 strong. However, I soon realized that was just the drumline. They march 10 basses, 9 tenors, 10 quads, 4 cymbals, and 20 snares. Got damn. Other comparisons:
-Sousaphones: Advantage: FAMU. They marched 22 and BCC marched 24, but BCC's tone always suffered like they were overblowing.
-General arranging: FAMU. They even did this arrangement of the State Farm theme to commemorate the sponsors of the classic that was amazing.
-Technique/Drill/Choreography: FAMU, but it was close cuz BCC definitely put their thing down. And while drill was involved, there was very little actual marching drill, probably because it's tough to do things with 300ish people on a 50 yard field.
-BCC had the burden of having to dress their lines after their interest. There is no shame in having to dress lines, obviously, it's standard operating procedure. But when you perform after a band who came out in perfect formation and didn't have to adjust at all, it all of a sudden looks bad.

My one qualm with the 100 is that while their drum majors were all awesome showmen, I don't think they conducted anywhere at all. I have never been a fan of the drum major being merely an auxiliary performer/squad. There is no reason why your director should be conducting a field show, particularly when you have 9 drum majors. I am all for drum majors being the showmen they are, but I think that a drum majors primary responsibility is as a field commander and conductor.

As far as the high school bands were concerned, once we got to a certain point in the show, everything was excellent. There were a few bands in the beginning that probably bolstered what a bunch of corps style kids think about show style marching--they were all dancing and melody, no musicianship and considerably dimished marching skill and chops, in the drumline and otherwise. The better bands definitely did our style proud though. Many of the bands were from Florida, but there were bands from GA, NC, and even one from KS. I have never seen a significant amount of performances from HBHSes though, and after having done such, I can proudly say that the Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band would have held their own, even without playing the latest radio hits or otherwise switching our swag up, we honestly would have represented.

I would have given the win (there was no winner. Despite the title, the battle of the bands was an exhibition, not a competition.) to this band from Morrill (sp?) GA. Best drumline would to go Frederick Douglass, from ATL.

Again, I turn to the pageantry of drum majors: There are some excellent things done with HBHS/HBCU and for that matter, Big Ten and other show style marching bands. I love the mace work, the backbends, and the other aspects of the performance. But what I'd love to see that there was none of would be a good ol' drum major salute. I feel like there's something in the salute that very much solidifies the drum majors position as the leader of the organization and is a sound acknowledgement both of the crowd and of his/her role as a representative of the band. All of this is going into my mental file, of course, for when I get to make a marching band of my own.

Anyway, as far as the evening was concerned, I was quite pleased, as were the people I went with, Ashlea, Stacy, Stacy's sorority sister Jernita and her son, and Stacy's friend Donna. Then again, you knew I would enjoy it, it's a band dork's dream. The one thing I would have changed is that it was 4 1/2 hours straight, with no breaks to speak of. There should have been a halftime--with a football game played during it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

BOTR Game of the Week, Week 12

As you may have noted, there's no High Notes for this past week. Plans kept me from watching too much football.

A few weeks ago, there was no need to ask anyone what the game of the week was. The buzz was everywhere. The game of the week was the GAME. OF. THE. CENTURY.--LSU vs. Alabama, #1 vs #2, in an SEC West matchup that may very well determine one of the national championship competitors.

My Band on the Road Game of the Week this week is a similar no-brainer. the incomparable FAMU Marching 100 and the estimable Marching Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University. For those unfamiliar, the two will meet in the Florida Classic, an annual rivalry game between the two HBCUs and MEAC conferencemates played in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Tonight, both bands, as well as numerous high schools, will participate in the Battle of the Bands in the Amway Center, and of course on Saturday, there'll be much to be had from both bands throughout the game, in the 5th, and, of course, halftime.

While you've heard me rail against ESPN for their band coverage, I'll give a bit of credit here. Their YouTube page has a couple of videos from the Classic and the Battle of the Bands in years past:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BOTR Game of the Week: Week 11

This week, there are a few matchups that feature bands that I've already recognized this season, so in the interest of spreading the love, I'm going to take it out west to the same place where College Gameday is today: Oregon at Stanford. While travel in the Pac-12 is relatively thin (outside of USC, who attends every game) this game is one that stood out to me as strategic. Oregon likely expected, correctly, that this game would certainly have implications in the Pac-12 North and potentially in both the conference and national championship pictures.

Full disclosure: I don't entirely get scramble bands like the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. Maybe it's because most schools who employ them may have been reach schools for me. As you know, it is my primary belief that a marching band should thrill an audience, which scramble bands typically do, but for me, one half of the marching band picture is, of course, the marching. Still, there's something to be said for their humor and irreverance, and they certainly know how to have a good time. And as for Oregon? Well, how many marching bands do you know fully outfitted in Nike?

One more piece that deserves mentioning: Many eyes will be on State College, PA today for reasons that I'm sure are obvious to readers or anyone up on current events. Still, it's worth noting something else that will take place today. Penn State will welcome Nebraska to Beaver Stadium for the first time as a conference foe, and as such they will get the standard salute from the Blue Band, who added to the books this season the Nebraska fight song.

High Notes 2011: Week 10

This past weekend was the first in a while where I truly spent an entire Saturday in front of college football, so I think I've got a pretty solid slate to go on. I'm giving the week's recognition to the Badger Band for a stalwart performance as Wisconsin hosted Purdue. With the whooping the Badgers put on the Boilermakers, there were plenty of opportunities for the Badger Band to state their case.

For other band action that caught my eye, you need look no further than the GAME. OF. THE. CENTURY. between LSU and Alabama. While I still shake my head at the fact that for a game of this magnitude, LSU couldn't/didn't bring the whole band, their pep band numbered probably around 100 and was still formidable. On the other side of the field, 100 was probably the number of what seemed like scores and scores of band fronts for Bama. They all seemed to be pretty stereotypically beautiful, and it looked like they had the "instrumentation" I'm most used to: poms, twirlers and silks. And as the game ended with LSU's third successful field goal the members of the Golden Band played All I Do Is Win. I don't know if LSU is one of the bands that has parodied the Rammer Jammer cheer in the past, but I'm not sure they would have gotten out alive from this one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seeing Red

First of all, quick housekeeping note: I'm sure you're used to finding 80 Minutes of Regulation via the Blogspot site. I'm pleased to announce that the site's got its own doman,

This weekend USF football played what is probably the team I hate most in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It's not a game I think of as a rivalry; while I contend USF doesn't have any true rivals, I'd name Louisville and Cincinnati, our longtime conferencemates, in a pinch, with an outside nod to West Virginia, as I'd like to think we get under their skin a bit. But Rutgers? I just plain don't like them, and I hate to lose to them, which sadly, we did again this weekend on an overtime field goal. Someone asked me this weekend why I hate the State University of New Jersey, and I've got a couple of reasons.

Proximity This may seem a strange reason for a school in Florida to hate a school in New Jersey, but hear me out. First of all, it's not hard to trace migration patterns from northern New Jersey/New York to the Tampa Bay area. In fact, the Bulls play right across the way from the spring home of the New York Yankees. Plus, I grew up in Delaware, so New Jersey has always been on the wrong side of the bridge.

Key Games There have been a couple of key games in the history of the USF-Rutgers that really stick in my craw. There's the 2006 game in Tampa, after which the Scarlet Knights desecrated our turf with their locker room chant. There's the trip to Rutgers in 2007 where we lost our #2 ranking amidgst Schiano's explosive bitching and moaning and a bogus "illegal forward propulsion" call that lost us the game. Given the way we salted away last night's game, it may go on the list soon.

General Annoyingness Any number of things can fit into this category, but I'll attempt to narrow it down. There is, of course, the aforementioned locker room chant. There's the glorification of the Bon Jovi Kid, some little Rutgers fan who rocks out in the stand when they play Jersey's Own. If I may draw an analogy, much in the same way a coach may go for it on 4th down because he doesn't trust his field goal kicker, you only rely so heavily on the loudspeakers and Jumbotron features if you don't trust your band. Theres the billboard Rutgers football erected not too far from USF's campus. These and more make Rutgers a general annoyance.

Ironically, I sit here on Sunday night rooting on the Baltimore Ravens as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while I'm cheering for his pro team, I still can't stand Rutgers' Ray Rice.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Moving Hardware

We all know that the near-sole driver for college sports realignment is football. Surely it's got implications in all sports, but with football being far and away the most lucrative, it drives the bus. After the fact, folks start taking a look at how the realignment will play out in basketball and the other sports; naturally, I'm looking at the band angle, from the perspective of what realignment means for the number of Sudler Trophy winners in each conference. I'm looking at the current phase, starting with the realignment that started last year and touched the Big Ten, Big XII, and Pac 10/12 and continued this year to the ACC, Big East, and SEC.

ACC: ±0 to 0 While the ACC has added two schools for the 2014 season (or sooner) in Syracuse and Pittsburgh, neither bring a Sudler Trophy with them, keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference without.

Big East: -1 to 0* In the most recent expansion move, the Big East loses its one Sudler winner, West Virginia, to the Big XII. The asterisk is that Notre Dame, the 2011 winner remains in the conference; however, since the Sudler is a marching band award, and marching band is inextricably tied to football, I don't think the conference can claim the Domers.

Big Ten: +1 to 10 The stacked just get, um, stacked-er? The Big Ten's most recent expansion was as much a marching coup as anything. they picked up Nebraska, who in addition to a strong football program brings their Sudler Trophy-winning marching band, giving the Big Ten a phenomenal 10 of 12 members holding hardware.

Big XII -1 to 5 The formerly 12 member Big XII has undergone the most flux during this round of expansion; they lose two Sudler holders in Texas A&M and Nebraska, but their newest pickup, West Virginia, comes holding one. The jury's still out on whether or not Mizzou is headed to the SEC, but it's irrelevant to their Sudler picture

Pac-12: ±0 to 2 Pickups of Utah and Colorado didn't change the Pac-12's Sudler picture; Arizona State and UCLA remain the two league schools with a trophy.

SEC: +1 to 6 By adding Texas A&M, the SEC goes to 6 Sudler Trophy winners. With no division adjustments, five of those teams are in the SEC West, leaving that division about as stacked as either of the Big Ten divisions; however, common belief is that with Mizzou headed to the SEC, Auburn will be headed to the Eastern division, leaving the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry holding the two trophies in the East. Editor's note: It seems Mizzou will defy geography and become an SEC East team, leaving the SEC West with five teams.

Out side of the BCS auto-qualifiers, the one FBS conference that comes out on top in the Sudler Trophy shift is the MAC. Starting in 2013, UMass, one of the three non-BCS schools to win a Sudler, will be making the jump to FBS ball and bring its trophy with it to the MAC for matchups with the likes of the Ohio University Marching 110 and the bands of the MAC.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Band on the Road: Midseason(ish) Check-In

The Band on the Road Project, which I began this summer, has been a labor of love for me. I started with scouring the internet for college marching band schedules, and what could very well have been a static document now has an at-least-weekly life,as new game times are announced and as I put out my BOTR Game of the Week posts. All in all, even if no one else is using it, it has been helpful and honestly fun for me to have this resource available.

I was reminded leading into this week why this can be quite the useful tool. Leading into the consensus game of the season, LSU at Alabama, I wondered if anything had changed about the status of band travel. First of all, LSU had never posted their calendar on the band website; I learned of their band's travel plans via Twitter. Knowing that this was the largest game of the season, I didn't know if the travel reported--a pep band--remained accurate. On the one hand, with a game of this magnitude, it would be advantageous to have the entire Golden Band from Tigerland present. On the other, I'm sure the folks at Alabama would have absolutely no trouble selling the seats the additional band members would take up. It took a lot of digging and asking, but I was finally able to confirm that only the LSU pep band will be present. The Band on the Road database contains this information for all who seek it. So while it's far from perfect and only as conclusive as information available allows, I remain committed to the belief that it's a great tool to have out there.

BOTR Game of the Week: Week 10

To hear the sports media and blogosphere tell it, there are no games this week, save for the 1-2 matchup of LSU and Alabama. I really wanted to make this my game of the week as well. After all, if both bands were present, this game has it all: The top two teams in the nation, a heated rivalry, an SEC night game, and two high performing, Sudler Trophy winning bands. Sadly, this is not to be. After chasing this information all up and down the internet, I got confirmation of what I knew from the beginning of the season but hoped had changed: LSU is only sending a pep band to this game. Since I give the strong edge to games with both bands in full attendance, sadly, LSU-Bama is off the list.

I set my sights instead on the only other (to my knowledge) game this week featuring two Sudler Trophy winning bands: Texas Tech's Goin' Band from Raiderland at Texas' Showband of the Southwest. While Texas' band has never impressed me much, I'm a big fan of the Goin' Band. Let's take a look at this showdown in the Lone Star State:

High Notes 2011: Week 9

After a couple of weeks away for various reasons, I was back in front of a screen for a significant portion of Saturday. One of the games I took in was the World's Largest Outdoor [redacted] Party, and from that game comes my High Notes recognition. This is another case of to the victor goes the spoils; both bands were strong, from what I could see, but the University of Georgia, in a winning effort, got more chance to shine, so this week, I'm recognizing UGA's Redcoat Marching Band.

You may have heard me malign the Redcoats before, and true enough, they were my second favorite of the two bands in the venue where I saw them, but to be fair, that venue was the 2005 Outback Bowl, their opponent was Wisconsin, and I've got a strong traditional style bias. Even then, while their marching style bored me when juxtaposed with Wisconsin's stop-at-the-top chair step, they were a force to be reckoned with in the stands. The small snippets (surprisingly more than I was expecting) that we saw of their halftime on CBS led me to believe they were formidable at halftime as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Information and Belief

I'm not sure what exactly those two words mean, together, in the legal sense, but West Virginia sure used them a lot.

ESPN posted the full text of WVU's lawsuit of the Big East, filed in West Virginia. The long and short of it is that the Big East, through the ineptness of its commissioner, had failed all good faith towards the fiduciary interests of its members (WVU, in this case) and such constitutes a breach of contract; as such, WVU should be let out of their contract early, instead of having to endure the 27 month waiting period to which they and all conference members agreed.

Despite my rant on the subject, West Virginia makes some good points in their suit. The thing is, what they sell is how the Big East was poor to them (and us all), and why it is in their best interest to leave. They do not make a compelling argument for why they should be allowed to leave by July 1, 2012, save for one: They apparently put forth a proposal for early exit with a fee, and the Big East took the fee. That said, there is no evidence to confirm or deny that this fee exceeded what they owed for resigning from the conference.

West Virginia's primary argument for their early departure is that athe currently-crumbling Big East isn't what they signed up for. The thing is, until the departure of Syracuse and Pitt--and there's no indication they are seeking a waiver of their timeline--and/or until the Big East loses its BCS AQ, which would be 2013 at the earliest, the conference is precisely what they signed up for, or at least what they've been competing in for the past six years. No significant change takes place at their desired departure date of 7/1/2012, and as such, there is no impetus for that date. In fact, a departure at that time, leaving the Big East at seven members and unable to compete as a BCS AQ conference, would be fiduciarily irresponsible to the other conference members beholden to them. It would make great grounds for a countersuit.

Interesting fact that I'm just going to stick here: In this round of conference expansion, the Big XII actually made the first extraregional step by inviting WVU. The Pac-12 stayed in their lane with two other western schools; the Big Ten stuck to the midwest with Nebraska; Pennsylvania and New York are certainly reasonable for the ACC; even the SEC's pickup of Texas A&M and alleged pending addition of Mizzou stuck to contiguous states. West Virginia is an exclave in the Big XII, roughly 900 miles from its closest conferencemates. Of course, I say this as a USF alum, so perhaps I should shut my mouth.

Moving forward...

The Big East apparently plans to start handing out bids: Boise State, Air Force, and Navy as football only members, and SMU, UCF, and Houston as full members. I don't know at this point who will accept, but I think I may be at the acceptance stage of grief with Boise State and Air Force. After all, as football only members, they are only going to have to travel to 4/5 out-of-time zone conference games a year--a hardship to be sure, but not as much as it would be for an all sports membership. They're no stranger to having to fly in the Mountain West conference, and hell, Air Force has their own planes. I've even made my peace with adding UCF, though I fear that as a conferencemate, they may actually beat us at some point. And selfishly, having plenty of business in Maryland, I like the potential of a Navy addition. With only five remaining football schools when the dust settles, there will be a need for a seventh pickup, if the goal is twelve teams and a conference championship; I'm rooting for ECU (again, selfishly) but think that either Temple or a Villanova call-up are more likely--again, not outside of my mid-Atlantic sphere of influence. And while I hold out little hope at this time for a conference that's had the sword of Damocles hanging over its head for some time now, I clearly would like to see this work.
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