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Saturday, December 29, 2012

B4: 2013 Discover BCS National Championship – Notre Dame vs. Alabama

The National Championship Game will truly be a clash of the titans for all 80 minutes of regulation and then some. While the clock is running, the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide each boast more national championships than anyone else, depending on who you ask. The two programs are among the most storied and most revered; the most loved and most hated. Each can look to a tradition of legendary head coaches, and each coach in this game seeks to etch his name into that history. Alabama’s Nick Saban is arguably already there, with two championships to his credit in three years at Alabama. Brian Kelly seeks to return Notre Dame to the Promised Land in a world where no one on the team has experienced the Irish at the top of the mountain. The matchup between the Band of the Fighting Irish and the Million Dollar Band is similarly venerable, with both bands having hoisted the Sudler and each representing a history and tradition at least as proud as their football team’s. While the Orange Bowl proper cedes its halftime to a pop performer, both bands will see both pregame and halftime field time in the national championship game. Whether the Tide rolls or the thunder is shaken down from the sky, there is no doubt the earth will move when these two meet. 

Notre Dame:


Friday, December 28, 2012

B4: 2013 Bowl – Kent State vs. Arkansas State

After impressive 2012 campaigns, both of the football teams in this matchup will find themselves rallying behind new head coaches. At least one of the old guys may not be too far from Mobile, however; Gus Malzahn, formerly of Arkansas State, took the job across the state at Auburn.

Kent State:

Arkansas State:

B4: 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl – Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss

When Birmingham earned the nickname the Pittsburgh of the South, it was because of its steel industry, not because it seems to have become the postseason home for the Pitt Panthers. The Pride of the South will meet them here in Legion Field, which may or may not predate the Civil War.


Ole Miss:

B4: 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

The grass wasn’t allowed to grow under the feet of this dual Sudler matchup; the two were conferencemates just last year in the Big 12 before the Aggies took their talents to the SEC. While the matchup will be in the Lone Star State, just about everyone in the stadium will agree: Go to hell, Texas. This is one of the few games not on the ESPN family of networks, so no apologies for horns down here; an added bonus is that Fox actually lets us see a bit of halftime, unlike the Worldwide Leader. 

Texas A&M:


B4: 2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Oregon vs. Kansas State

All the Tostitos is all that these two will be fighting for this time through. Each band could’ve been watching their team in Miami playing for the crystal football were it not for one fateful Saturday earlier this season.


Kansas State:

B4: 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl – Louisville vs. Florida

While I’m sure he’ll be in speaking with his team during halftime, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is no stranger to the Gator Marching Band from his time at Florida. The Cardinal Marching Band has their work cut out for them too: The Gators are the newest member of the Sudler fraternity, having been awarded the 2013 edition of the prestigious trophy this December.



B4: 2013 Discover Orange Bowl – Northern Illinois vs. Florida State

Some would tell you that Northern Illinois is the team that shouldn’t be here, but don’t tell that to the team or the Huskie Marching Band. While I won’t disparage the band themselves, they will be outmatched sizewise by the Goliath Marching Chiefs. Neither band will play halftime though; the Orange Bowl historically farms that out to a band of the non-marching variety. Northern Illinois: Florida State:

B4: 2013 Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio – Wisconsin vs. Stanford

Who thought that Stanford would be smelling the roses only after Andrew Luck endd his college career? While Wisconsin will be threepeating in Pasadena, The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band hasn’t made that treacherous turn onto Colorado Boulevard since 2000. 



B4: 2013 Capital One Bowl – Georgia vs. Nebraska

Last year the Outback Bowl got the dubious honor, but this year, the Capital One Bowl hosts the SEC and Big Ten runners up. Once again, two Sudler Trophy bands meet.



B4: 2013 Outback Bowl – South Carolina vs. Michigan

One of my favorite bowl experiences, as a homer to my Tampa days, The Outback Bowl gives both bands the opportunity to march through Ybor City in the Outback Bowl Parade the night before the game. Expect both bands to set up additional opportunities for themselves in the days leading up to the game as well.

South Carolina:


B4: 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl – Purdue vs. Oklahoma State

Some have called this the Zombie Cotton Bowl, but I think it’s great there’ll still be postseason football played in this venue now that the bowl game that bears its name had headed to Jerry World. This year, the All-American Marching Band lost an alumnus in astronaut Neil Armstrong. Armstrong was also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, founded at Oklahoma State.


Oklahoma State:

B4: 2013 Gator Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Northwestern

SEC/Big Ten matchups always have a clash of styles feel to them – North vs. South, power conference vs. power conference, and in this particular case, cats and dogs. The Wildcat Marching Band of course has a Sudler Trophy to their credit, but the Famous Maroon Band is no slouch, either.

Mississippi State:


B4: 2012 Chick Fil-A Bowl – LSU vs. Clemson

LSU and Clemson travel from their respective Death Valleys to do battle in the capital of the South, and something about it just feels like the right way to bid adieu to 2012. I set the over-under on some form of Tiger Rag being played at 150, and I’m inclined to bet the over.



B4: 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Iowa State vs. Tulsa

Iowa State and Tulsa meet again in this rematch from the regular seasons. The Varsity Marching Band watched their Cyclones prevail in Ames to kickoff the season; it might be a bit stormier on neutral turf to end if if the Sound of the Golden Hurricane have anything to say about it.

Iowa State:


B4: 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl – USC vs. Georgia Tech

Last year, USC’s ineligibility ushered UCLA into the Pac-12 title game, and after a loss and a 6-7 record, the Bruins ultimately were granted a waiver to play in a bowl with a losing record. It was perhaps that precedent that paved the way for their Sun Bowl opponent: Georgia Tech, who I saw a few weeks ago at the ACC Championship Game, wouldn’t have made it there if UNC weren’t ineligible and Miami hadn’t self-imposed a postseason ban.


Georgia Tech:

B4: 2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – NC State vs. Vanderbilt

The Spirit of Gold gets a virtual home game in this one, while the Power Sound of the South trek some 8 hours along I-40 from capital city to capital city. Both bands saw streaks broken in band on the road showdowns earlier this year; Vanderbilt beat in-state rival Tennessee, while NC State lost just a bit down Tobacco Road at UNC.

NC State:


B4: 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – TCU vs. Michigan State

The Spirit of TCU is not too far removed from a couple of big stages: Last time the Super Bowl game through the DFW Metroplex, they played for the pregame, and of course, there’s that little thing called the Rose Bowl a couple of years back. Having face Wisconsin in that Rose Bowl, they won’t be surprised to see a Big Ten band across the field in the form of the Spartan Marching Band, either.


 Michigan State:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

B4: 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl - Texas vs. Oregon State

The eyes of Texas will be slightly to the southwest of Austin, this time in San Antonio as the Showband of the Southwest takes on the Spirit and Sound of OSU. During an earlier realignment missile crisis, we thought this may have been a Pac-16 conference game; now it'll just be a whole lotta orange.


Oregon State:

Monday, December 24, 2012

B4: 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Navy vs. Arizona State

With the myriad opportunities to serve one's country through music, I hope I'm including a clip from the correct Navy ensemble here. Both Navy and Arizona State should be well-represented out west as they meet in San Francisco.


Arizona State:

B4: 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl - West Virginia vs. Syracuse

They just couldn't wait to give us this one back. Having been a conference matchup in the Big East just last year, there'll be no interruption since the last meeting, a Syracuse victory. Just think, by this time next year, neither school will be in the conference.

West Virginia:


B4: 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Rice vs. Air Force

This marching matchup will be quite the clash of styles: Rice will be represented by the Marching Owl Band, using nonstandard instrumentation and a scatter band style native to the Ivies. The Air Force Academy, as expected will be bringing their football unit, the Flight of Sound - the USAFA Drum and Bugle Corps.


Air Force:

B4: 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas - Minnesota vs. Texas Tech

With 10 out of the 12 schools holding, you'd expect that if a matchup features a Big Ten team, there's a good chance they're the one with the Sudler, but that's not the case as the Gophers head to Texas to take on the Red Raiders. Don't take the Texas in the name for granted and think that this is an easy trip for the Goin' Band, however; they'll still log over 1,000 miles round trip from Lubbock to Houston and back.


Texas Tech:

B4: 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl - Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech

As the Big East crumbles, one former member and one future former member head to Orlando. The conference title was supposed to have come through Piscataway this year, and to be fair, the Scarlet Knights did leave with a piece of it. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, had a tougher than expected road that should have pitted them against Florida State in a late Thursday night matchup for the right to represent their division.


Virginia Tech:

B4: 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl - Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Both Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe took the fight to big conference foes early in the season and walked uf victors - Ohio at Penn State, and ULM at Arkansas. On this year's B4, they'll do battle: Gangnam Style!


Louisiana Monroe:

B4: 2012 Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl - Baylor vs. UCLA

"I love GOOOOOLD" - Goldmember

The Golden Wave Band of Baylor and the Solid Gold Sound of UCLA meet in San Diego this Holiday. UCLA holds the only Sudler on the west coast-proper - the other Pac-12 trophy lives at Arizona State.



B4: 2012 Belk Bowl - Cincinnati vs. Duke

These two programs are quite divergent as far as recent history goes with bowls: Cincinnati has been to six in the past seven years, while Duke football and the DUMB haven't seen the postseason since 1994. Still, in not having to leave North Carolina, the football Blue Devils will enjoy a luxury their basketball counterparts often do, and the long drought and short trip may paint Charlotte blue. As for Cincy, I don't know if the stands at Band of America will allow for their famous run-on drill for pregame; if it doesn't, it may be for the better after the infamous fall earlier this year.



B4: 2012 Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman - San Jose State vs. Bowling Green

This year's military bowl doesn't feature any traditional military schools. If one chose to reach, there's a pretty clear army reference in the Spartans of San Jose State, and a less explicit air force reference with Bowling Green's Falcons, but I won't go there. I'm in the mid-Atlantic now, and may very well be in DC on the day of this game; I know there's no stranger to "football weather" in Ohio, but it may be a bit chillier than it is in San Jose.

San Jose State:

Bowling Green:

B4: 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan

As a USF alumnus, it would be a bit pot-kettle to decry this as a matchup of directional state schools. I'm also familiar, as a USF alumnus, with Western Kentucky's recently departed (left the university, not this cosmic plane) coach Willie Taggart, who's now the head man down at USF. Interestingly enough, Central Michigan held onto their coach, despite a brief opening at Cincinnati, to whom they've lost their last two.


Central Michigan:

B4: 2012 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Fresno State vs. SMU

June Jones once again returns to Hawaii, where he once coached. This time, he'll have his current SMU Mustang squad and the Best Dressed marching band with him. Tim DeRuyter's Bulldogs are no strangers to the Hawaii trip, having shared a conference with the Warriors in the WAC, but the Bulldog Marching Band hasn't made the trip since the Aloha Bowl in 1993.

Fresno State:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

B4: 2012 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl - Washington vs. Boise State

Washington and Boise State will battle it out for the Northwest in Sin City. Boise State is battling against a school from an auto-qualifying conference for its last time before becoming one, then being thrust back into obscurity once the Big East  is relegated back to the world of the have-nots. Given the travel involved, I'm not sure how many conference games Blue Thunder will make it to.


Boise State:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

B4: 2012 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - ECU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

The Pride of Acadiana gets to stay relatively home for Christmas, after having traveled to New York for Thanksgiving to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. ECU's Marching Pirates take the hike on this one, but with a date of 12/22, they'll be home for Christmas as well.



B4: 2012 Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - UCF vs. Ball State

UCF has been known to use their neighbors to the southwest as a yardstick, and this game gives them the perfect opportunity to do so. The Knights have the opportunity to walk into Tampa Bay and walk out with a victory against Ball State, to whom USF fell earlier this year. At halftime and in the stands, both the Marching Knights and the Pride of Mid-America will have the interesting acoustical challenge of playing inside Tropicana Field's dome.


Ball State:

B4: 2012 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - BYU vs. San Diego State

During the Big East's westward expansion, San Diego State joined up while BYU spurned the conference's advances. The two former conferencemates will go toe-to-toe in a virtual home game for the Aztecs.


San Diego State:

B4: 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Toledo vs. Utah State

Utah State's football team and the Aggie Marching Band will be performing their final duties as members of the WAC in this bowl game. They'll be doing it in familiar surroundings: They used to share a conference with Boise State, who calls the smurf turf home. Toledo football made their sole trip to the same stadium just two years ago, although I don't believe the Rocket Marching Band joined them.


Utah State:

B4: 2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl - Nevada vs. Arizona

It'll be a desert showdown as the flagships of Arizona and Nevada hit the field in New Mexico. With all due respect to the Pride of Arizona, the last two bands Rich Rodriguez had at his back during bowl games had Sudlers to their name. These two football teams will meet again in a home-and-home in 2014 and 2015; it may be a tall order for either band to make the nearly 900 mile trek.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

One Band. One Sound... One Decade Later

Ten years ago today, Devon Miles set foot on the campus of Atlanta A&T and marching music hit the silver screen in the form of the movie Drumline. It was and remains to date the highest profile film with a marching band as its subject, and a decade later, its impact is still being felt.

As films go, the movie was enjoyable, if not cliche. In form and function, it is essentially a sports movie with a marching band as the team. Themes such as teamwork, the underdog story, the "good guys" winning, and hero-to-zero-to-hero are prevalent. It also touched, albeit superficially, on fraternity and sorority life, hazing, and the HBCU social scene. Far more significant, however, is the manner that with its release life either imitated art or did everything in its power to run far from it.

Sure enough, I enjoyed Drumline when it came out - and I saw it on opening day - but I found myself becoming an ardent defender of it almost immediately. There were folks with different opinions of it, and that's fine, but there were quite a few arguments I had with people who were either completely unaware or refused to acknowledge that the style of marching in the film even existed. Drumline, of course, depicts a fictional HBCU marching band, and to hear some corps style kids tell it, they were marching wrong or the movie was totally fake because no one marches like that. It shone a spotlight on a rift in the marching arts that went unnoticed by many prior to the release of the movie.

From a personal point of view, I never marched with a historically black ensemble in high school or college. Still, my marching band experience came marching traditional style, which has far more in common with the HBCU show style than corps style marching. Further, at its release, I was in my senior year of college, and despite not having marched at that level, I had a pretty wide knowledge of the marching/athletic music realm, so by no means was Drumline unfamiliar subject matter to me. For corps style kids who only interacted with other corps style bands, the whole concept was foreign, and perhaps something to which they couldn't relate. The training seemed strange. The drums sounded dirty. And why in the world are they lifting their legs up and doing all of that dancing?

The rift, between traditional and corps, and in this sense, largely between black bands and white bands, was not one-sided. The movie itself features a white student - nicknamed Affirmative Action - who tries to make the drumline as well. He points out that he could have made the line at Georgia Tech or UGA easily (of note: The latter is a Sudler Trophy-winning program). One of the deleted scenes features a predominantly white band competing at the Big Southern Classic, which is clearly shown as a point of contrast and of ridicule. Even Dr. Lee's insistence on musicianship over hip hop - most notably played out with the playing of Flight of the Bumblebee in response to a rap tune from the rival band - speaks to this disconnect.

I will bring forth, once again, an overgeneralization that shows my own biases but speaks to where some of the disconnect fell. Especially at the high school level, corps style bands' primary function is to please judges, while traditional/show style bands aim to please the crowd. This doesn't manifest itself nearly as strongly at the college level, where marching band contests are no longer currency for the bands, but with overlap in personnel, the philsophies sometimes mesh. What was shown on the screen, then, was so far afield from the reality that the band nerds (I say this as one) I argued with about the movie inhabited that it surely had to be wrong.

As "wrong" as the movie was, a funny thing happened in the years to come. It started innocently enough: A drumline who heard A&T's cadence in the movie might emulate it. A student with an ear for arranging might pick out a simple bassline and pass it out to the tuba section. And suddenly, lines are being blurred. Bands that might never have ventured down the path to pop music, much less hip hop, are now playing it with regularity. It's a phenomenon I  earlier referred to as the Drumline Effect.

A subtle brilliance of the movie's design is that in order to have the bands playing the day's popular hits, a number of songs were written for the movie that were released as singles. The plan was that they would reach commercial success and the bands on the field in the movie would indeed be playing the latest radio tunes. I don't think that any of the songs reached quite the commercial success they had intended, but one song in particular, Shout It Out, has become a mainstay in the stands. Shout It Out remains popular among bands that may never have ventured down the hip hop road, and it owes its very existence to Drumline.

In a similar vein, songs that were once only performed by HBCUs are now quite regularly played by predominantly white and often corps style bands. Neck and to a lesser extent, Hay, once rarely heard outside of the confines of an HBCU stadium, have become as ubiquitous as Land of A Thousand Dances or the Hey Song. And as can be expected, they've been just as well received on white campuses as black ones. It has become a bone of contention among HBCU bandheads, some of whom see it as cultural appropriation. I think it is a direct effect of Drumline's influence on the marching arts.

Finally, how has Drumline influenced culture outside of marching/athletic music? It's difficult to say. While marching bands have been present at several Super Bowls since the movie's release, they've been there since Super Bowl I, so that's not causal. But there has seemed to be an uptick in the use of marching bands in commercials and other advertisements. Several songs sampling marching bands have made their way into the mainstream. One of which, Yung Wun's Tear It Up, samples the marching band version of Shout It Out and likely did better on that charts. In another, Destiny's Child sampled the Michigan Marching Band's drumline. The film's popularity also led to the creation of Drumline Live, a theatrical production that brought the HBCU marching experience to stages throughout America.

I recognize that I may have more of a relationship with this movie than many. I count it among my favorites, saw it on opening day, and purchased the DVD and the 5th anniversary DVD. Still, while it is debatable whether or not the film itself has stood the test of time, it is undeniable that its impact has.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All Catholic Conference?

Interestingly enough, He'll only serve
in an advisory capacity.
It's actually a bit surprising to hear it's taken this long, but the Big East's Catholic non-football schools are considering an exit strategy in light of recent changes to the conference. The conference's basketball product has been weakened by defection and diluted by expansion to the point that it bears little resemblance to the conference of which several of the Catholic schools were charter members in 1979.

As these talks grow stronger, the coming weeks and months will lead to discussion and debate on who owns the right to the Big East name and all the comes with it, including the brand and its NCAA tournament automatic bid. If the Catholic schools - currently seven of the ten voting members until new members join in July - decide to take their ball and go home, does the name go with them? Does it remain with the football members, who will again be at full and increased numbers this summer? Do the two sides make a decision to dissolve the conference as we know it?

If the Catholic schools strike out on their own, common sentiment is that they may look to team up with other urban, Catholic institutions Xavier, Dayton, Saint Louis, Butler, and Crieghton, either through merging into the Atlantic 10, where most of these schools (and several other, less prominent Catholic schools) currently reside, or through creation of a new conference.

And that new conference will need a name. While the (Pope) Urban Conference is tempting, until further notice, given its basketball focus, I'm calling the yet-to-exist conference the MarchDiocese.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

'Tisn't The Season

While it's half a year away from drum corps season, tickets went on sale this past Monday for DCI's premier events. Prior to that, the schedule was released, and there were a few things that made me go hmm... -My friend and drum corps buddy Joseph pointed the first one out to me. There are usually a few shows - at least two hosted by Carolina Crown - in NC, SC, and southwestern VA that we attend each year. This typically gives us an early season taste as well as a piece of the late season push towards Indy. This year, probably due largely to Crown beginning their tour out west, there are no shows in reach until NightBEAT in late July. -NightBEAT, typically a Sunday show, will take place on Saturday night this year. It's switching spots with the DCI Southeastern Championship, which seems a curious move, putting major regional on a work night. It also means the general trajectory of some of the major cors will go back south before heading north (though to be fair, the Murphreesboro-Atlanta-Charlotte swing did that s well) -The Tour of Champions has given rise to a yet-to-be-named "Special Series". You may recall that the "ad hoc committee" that made the first proposal that became the Tour of Champions consisted of seven corps. In the two years of the TOC, the series featured the top eight corps, which coincidentally included all of the Undersigned and one other: The Blue Stars in the first year and the Boston Crusaders in the second. This year, the seven abandoned the pretense and are going it alone, adding shows in Buffalo and Warrensburg, MO to the previous five-show lineup. All in all, some interesting changes to the season. It may take me a bit longer this season to see DCI action live, but I'll still catch them when and where I can.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BOTR Game Of The Week: 2012 Week 15

At the Division I FBS level, there is only one game this week. It is this way be design; the rest of the college football community parts the ranks to let arguably the most traditional game the sport has to offer stand alone. It is the Army-Navy game. This year, the Midshipmen and Black Knights meet in Philadelphia, by far the most common site for the game. Once upon a time, having no ties to either institution or branch of service, I likely would have sided with Navy as a Marylander-by-association. With a brother in the Army and a cousin who is a West Point graduate, I'm far more inclined to say Go Army. Of course - and this is often stated but cannot be overstated - the young men on the field of play will be lining up on the same side in defense of this nation following graduation. In that sense, thank you to them all.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

For NFL Players, All Bets Are Off

College bowl season is about to kick off and with that means a ton of side betting on the various games.  Fans will place bets on their favorite teams and even who will take down to the national title, that is unless you are a player in the National Football League.

Most of you likely know that NCAA athletes and even college athletic departments are not allowed to make any wagers on NCAA sports.  The obvious reasoning behind this is that they feel that athletes could be influenced by bookies to throw games.  Games such as college basketball are highly prone to game fixing and the NCAA does what they can to avoid that.

The National Football League actually goes a step further than the NCAA.  If you are a  player in the NFL, you are not allowed to gamble, period.  It doesn't matter if it is football, baseball, basketball, or bingo.  According to league rules, players are not permitted to gamble.  This ban also extends to league officials and anyone working for an NFL organization. 

About the only exception that the NFL makes for this policy is charity poker tournaments.  The only reason those events are allowed to pass is because the money collected from the events goes to charity and cash prizes are not awarded to participants. 

With that said, if events are held inside a casino, those are still off-limits.  The league office snubbed an event in Las Vegas in 2011 because it was held at the Golden Nugget.  Players were allowed to go to the event as cheerleaders but could not play in the event.

The NFL takes such a hard stance against gambling because they are trying to keep the integrity of their game intact.  A game fixing scandal would not only be damaging to one team, but to the league as a whole because fans would be suspicious as to how deep the cheating goes in the game.  All you need to do is look at the steroid controversy in Major League Baseball to see how a cheating scandal can have long term effects on the perceptions of a league.

While the NFL's policy is tough, it is one that is in place to protect both the league and the players.  With the Millions being made in the league by players, curbing one's gambling activities seems like a small price to pay.

This has been a collaboration with Daniel Smith, a fellow football fan and poker fan.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before The B4 2012: We're Back!

Save for the Army-Navy Game, the 2012 college football regular season has sadly come to a close. Bowl season is once again upon us. And here at 80 Minutes of Regulation, that means the Return of the Big Band Bowl Battle!

Last year, I embarked on the sizable yet rewarding undertaking of previewing every bowl game marching matchup. I'll be at it again this year. Before we begin, a few thoughts about the big picture of this year's marching matchups. 

-There are just four games this year that match a pair of Sudler Trophy winners: The Heart of Dallas Bowl (Purdue vs. Oklahoma State), Capital One Bowl (Georgia vs. Nebraska),  Cotton Bowl (Okahoma vs. Texas A&M) and the BCS National Championship Game (Notre Dame vs. Alabama). Two of these are in the Dallas metro area, and one, the Cotton Bowl, is televised on Fox, which means we'll actually get to see some of halftime, unlike the games on band-blocking ESPN
-Despite being notoriously fan friendly, the Rose Bowl is once again without a Sudler winner. The Granddaddy of 'em All hasn't hosted a winner since Ohio State in 2010, and hasn't had a dual Sudler matchup since Texas-Michigan in 2005.

Here they are - all 35 bowl band matchups:

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman
Belk Bowl
Bridegeport Education Holiday Bowl
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Russell Athletic Bowl
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Valero Alamo Bowl
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Hyundai Sun Bowl
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Chick-Fil-A Bowl Gator Bowl
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Outback Bowl
Capital One Bowl
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
Discover Orange Bowl
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
AT&T Cotton Bowl
BBVA Compass Bowl Bowl
Discover BCS National Championship

Public Service Announcement

I am a lifelong believer in the power of music. Even without words, music has the power to stir emotion and convey a message.

When music does have words, however, its message goes from abstract to concrete. Even when played without them, the meaning behind the lyrics carries through, so it's important that whatever is being played is consistent with the message that is intended.

I say all that to say this: *ahem*


I get it. I do. The song was quite popular. Its relevance to sports is clear. It was probably extremely easy to arrange, and it gives you an easy victory with the crowd by being instantly recognizable. But its own familiarity is its undoing. The statement that's being made is clear, and if it's wrong, you just look dumb.  Does your team have a losing record? Is the current game all but out of reach? Is there a good chance that the other team will pull out the victory and make you eat your notes? If one or all of these is true, maybe it's not the right time to play this song. 

This has been a public service announcement from 80 Minutes of Regulation - because we care.

Monday, December 3, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 14

Having attended the ACC Championship game this past Saturday, it's no surprise that my high notes recognition come from that game. A thorough recap is on the way in a future post, but the recognition goes to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Marching Band.

Both bands were quite talented, but I think the Jackets brought a big more variety to the table. In addition to the traditional pieces, they tapped into their Atlanta roots and gave us Jeezy's I Put On (which I first heard them do at the ACC Tournament) and Mykko Montana's Do It. Throw in a few traditional pieces like the Beer Barrel Polka before the 4th quarter and Verdi's Dies Irae as a downs cheer and the Jackets are my pick for the night.

Holtz Out

In early 2010, a pair of teams met on the gridiron, in Canada, no less: USF and Northern Illinois. If someone would have said at that point that one of those teams would find themselves in a BCS bowl in the next three years, smart money would have been on the team in an AQ conference. You would have been wrong.

The two teams' paths have diverged greatly in that time. Northern Illinois has gotten better each year, progressing first to a loss in the MAC championship, then a conference championship victory, and this year winning the conference and heading to the BCS. USF, conversely, has gotten worse each year, posting 8-5, 5-7, and 3-9 records, below .500 in the Big East each year.

That bowl game was the last game that Jim Leavitt, to that point the only coach the program had ever known, would coach for the Bulls. Following his firing in response to a locker room incident, Skip Holtz was brought in less than two weeks later. In addition to the off-field issue, Leavitt's final few years had become characterized by a midseason slump, each dooming the conference season before the Bulls were even in the running. Holtz brought with him a promising track record from East Carolina and many, myself included, thought he was the pick to take USF football to the next level.

Having fallen short of that mark, expectations, and even USF's worst season to date, Holtz was relieved of his duties following the season finale versus Pittsburgh. And while I'm typically uncomfortable calling for someone's livelihood, the program had diminished into one of which it had become impossible to be proud. It was time, and while I wish him the best wherever he may land, he was not the man for our program.

Now USF's in the hunt for a head coach. Because it seems what you're supposed to do, I'll take this moment to point out that Jon Gruden has experience coaching in that very stadium. Seriously, though, USF AD Doug Woolard is currently 1-1 with our revenue sport hires, hitting a jackpot with basketball's Stan Heath. Here's hoping this next hire emulates that S. H.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

It's the last day of Movember, an initiative through which men seek to raise awareness for men's health issues, particularly testicular and prostate cancer. Given my piss-poor ability to grow facial hair, I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I participated. ESPN is also celebrating Jimmy V Week, seeking to eradicate cancer through its fundraising efforts.

Jim "Jimmy V" Valvano, former coach of NC State men's basketball, is perhaps best known for this inspiring speech at the Espys:

Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

BOTR Game of the Week: 2012 Championship Weekend

While not every conference has a championship game, all six major conference championships are/were in play this week/end. The party began last night as Louisville clinched the Big East and will continue through championship games tonight and tomorrow for the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC, and ACC. the Big 12 is in play as well, as Oklahoma fans root for archrival Texas to knock of K-State, giving the Sooners the title. Even MACtion is in play, as Kent State has a realistic shot at a BCS berth with a victory in the MAC championship.

Normally, I've got one of two go-tos. Having a Big Ten marching bias, the matchup in marching music's capital is always appealing, and Nebraska-Wisconsin is no exception. In Atlanta,  a rematch of last year's SEC championship reprises a battle of two Sudler Trophy winners. But this year, I'm making the short trip down the road to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, where I'll catch the Marching Chiefs and Yellow Jacket Marching Band.

Florida State:

Georgia Tech:

High Notes, 2012 Weeks 12 and 13

So I'm late in getting you week 12's high notes. I'll blame Thanksgiving.

Back during Week 12, Tennessee headed to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt. Not only to the Vols get thumped by little brother and lose their head coach, but the Spirit of Gold put in work and earned that week's honors.

Vanderbilt featured into Week 13 as well. While I didn't catch much football at all, I did do some traveling, visiting my grandma in Poughkeepsie, NY. The travel piece included trips to the Vanderbilt Mansion and FDR national historical sites in nearby Hyde Park - increasing our national park passport stamps - as well as the Walkway over the Hudson and Roadside America. Great times with family and getting some travel into the mix

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And Another One...

They're gonna need more dots.
The ACC zagged when I thought they might have zigged.

I knew another robbery of the Big East was coming, but I expected the ACC to have stuck a little closer to its footprint and taken UConn. Instead, they walk away with Louisville in what was probably the most advantageous move they could have made. While I continue to believe UConn would have been the best fit for the ACC, Louisville was the best choice for the conference. Put another way, UConn would have been more of the same, while Louisville raises the conference profile. Academics notwithstanding - and frankly, I think it's lip service when they're brought up in athletic conference realignment anyway - Louisville brings in strong football and basketball, as well as an athletic program that seems committed to growth. The Cardinals seem to be most closely replacing the Terrapins, and in doing so, the ACC is trading in the Preakness for the Kentucky Derby, an analogy which - with all due respect to College Park - runs deeper than just location.

I'm not going to wax poetic on this departure as I did with another, but in this move, in addition to striking another death blow to the Big East, we lose the school I probably most thought of as a rival to USF. Louisville and USF's kinship has spanned three conferences, and while I joked earlier that this surely means USF is headed to the ACC as well, I know this is probably goodbye.

Another one finds the life raft. See y'all here in Greensboro.

Lost in the shuffle, however, were the teams that the Big East picked up to replace Rutgers and Louisville. While I raise an eyebrow at Tulane, I'm pleased that they made the move I've been pushing all along and brought in ECU as a football only member. It's only for the selfishness of a game local to me, but beyond that, I've thought of them as the next available anyway. Now we're just an addition of Southern Miss, UAB, and Charlotte away from having every team we can from 2003 Conference USA.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Realignment Twitrospective

I don't have a chart or graph, but I'm positive there was a spike in my tweets as the latest Big Ten expansion news was coming out. I figured pertinent tweets were worth holding onto for posterity. I'm pretty sure I went through the five stages of grief in the process.

I started back when it was still very much in the rumor phase…

This never materialized.

Shit just got real.

Realignment Roulette

Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows...

I know most folks consider realignment talk a distraction from real college football, and are particularly annoyed that it's taking place during the season. I agree with that to some degree, but I also find it fascinating, especially because (or despite the fact that) it almost always involves a blow to my conference. Still, if you follow me on Twitter (and you should) you know that nothing gets my tweet rate up like realignment talk

Just for shits and/or giggles, I figured I'd put together a "next targets" list for all the major conferences (I'M STILL COUNTING THE BIG EAST IN THAT, DAMMIT) based somewhat in prediction, somewhat in fantasy, and somewhat in who-the-hell-knows. This will likely be ever-evolving; all opinions are my own, no sources were harmed in the creation of this post.

ACC: It seems that after losing Maryland (College Park) to the Big Ten, their next target will be UConn. There have been whisperings of Navy as well; not a bad look to pick back up that Baltimore-DC market. I've long said they should go Hopkins for a lacrosse-only membership--also back to Maryland--and Temple would bring Philly, the most major mid-Atlantic city not in play (if you believe that Syracuse brings New York.

Big East: Look, as much as I hate tot admit it, all the Big East has been playing for for some time now is the hope of being the best of the rest. Today, announcements are reportedly on the way to invite Tulane in all sports and ECU as a football only member. Let's just go all out and make it Conference USA circa 2003, and get UAB, Charlotte, and Southern Miss in the mix as well.

Big Ten: Jim Delany and the pursuit of product for the Big Ten Network started this mess up again. To that aim, why not invite Army and Navy and try to get BTN on bases nationally and internationally? Barring that,   the Big Ten's contiguous state doctrine only put one more state in play that wasn't before: Virginia. Adding Virginia and Virginia Tech gives you decent football in Tech, academic prestige in UVA, and what they care about the most: a decent sized metro area in Virginia's Tidewater region. They could also go after Missouri, who, after a lackluster first SEC season decides that's where they'd rather be anyway, or make one final embattled plea at the great white buffalo: Notre Dame.

Big 12: Since we're cannibalizing the Big East anyway, might as well go with Louisville and Cincinnati. Pick up some Florida eyeballs with USF (hey, a guy can dream, can't he?) and reach west for BYU and Boise State.

Pac-12: They should actually probably be the ones making a play for BYU or Boise State; also in the mix would be San Diego State, or, since Larry Scott's a wily sort of guy, get really Pacific on them and bring in Hawaii. And hey, all indications are that the University of British Columbia's football isn't up to snuff, but hell, why not take it international?

SEC: I'm going to side with Clay Travis' Virginia Tech and NC State theory. That'll give the SEC what they should truly have: Presence in every state that seceded from the Union.

One final thought: the College Athletics-Industrial Complex steals all of our rivalry games and sells them back to us as bowl games and specialty matchups. Be on the lookout for the Texas-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl and Maryland vs. Duke in the Big Ten - ACC Challenge.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 13

It's Thanksgiving, and it's one of the weeks that rivals traditionally do battle, making strained relationships in mixed families and good football for all.

While there are plenty of gridiron marching matchups to point you to, I'm going instead to the parade route. Outside of New Year's Day, Thanksgiving features some of the highest profile parades. Most attention goes to Macy's in New York, but I've got a personal bias towards the Philly parade. Whether you're catching one of these or another parade entirely,  kick your turkey day off right. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Delany Shall Not Call In Vain

Well, that which I wrote about as a most likely this weekend is now a definite. College Park will announce this afternoon that they are Big Ten bound, and Rutgers is slated to announce tomorrow. There goes the neighborhood.


And we all believed expansion had quieted for the time being.

What started as seemingly baseless rumors now seems to be a done deal: The University of Maryland, College Park is reportedly headed to the Big Ten, and Rutgers will be joining them. I've got a few thoughts on the matter. Here they are.

First of all, losing Rutgers, while I can't say I'm sad to see them go at face value, is another blow to the Big East. Add to that the fact that the next domino many see falling is UConn to the ACC, and the everpresent Big East Sword of Damocles gets closer to dropping.

As for College Park, I live in the capital of the ACC, and they are the conference team I tend to pull for the most. It wasn't much, but there was a bit of familiarity seeing them in the ACC Tournament here in town each March. They'll be leaving a conference of which they were a charter member and turning their back on rivalry and good old fashioned hatred.

From the Big Ten's standpoint. I won't ask why this is on the table. Certainly it's the $ame rea$on it alway$ i$. Still, it seems to dilute its identity in more ways than one. Even with the most recent expansion, adding Nebraska, the Big Ten remained a midwestern conference (yes, I'd include Penn State's part of Pennsylvania in this). Adding the DMV and the Tri-state very clearly dilutes that.

The geographical mismatch is what stands out to me the most. I can't claim to speak for the Rutgers or UMCP fanbases, but as a native of the east coast, having grown up a state away from both schools, there's frankly a hubris that comes with being the first to see the sun each day. This is intensified in the BosWash megalopolis that both schools inhabit; if it's not on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, we're not sure it exists. There is even a coast privilege that typically manifests itself as the east coast bias many mention. Why, then, would these two align themselves with a primarily midwestern conference? College Park already keeps company with southern schools and Rutgers with a host of others, but the "Atlantic Coast" and "East" parts of their current conferences are part of each schools' identity.

The Terps and Scarlet Knights aren't exactly football powerhouses, but then, neither is the Big Ten these days. And perhaps most importantly (from the perspective of this blog, at least) adding College Park and Rutgers is a huge blow to a marching conference in which ten of the current 12 members hold Sudler Trophies. Both schools will struggle mightily at halftime and frankly aren't even a good fit stylistically.

And then there's lacrosse. While I know it didn't play a huge factor in the decision making, this potential move affects the lacrosse landscape in a few days. First of all, the mighty ACC, while still mighty, becomes the conference that could have been. Syracuse and Notre Dame would be joining College Park, Duke, UNC, and UVA to form a now-legitimately-sized conference that would gain an autobid it didn't need, as it would routinely put all six in the tournament. Terps and Rutgers to the Big Ten gives you another "almost" conference; they'd join Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. Northwestern, with its private school status, success in women's lacrosse, and Chicagoland's embracing of the sport would be my next callup, but who knows if that's happening. Meanwhile, Rutgers' departure leaves the Big East without enough for an autobid and all but dissolves the conference after only three years of existence, at least until Navy comes along.

My leaning is probably clear in this, but I don't particularly want to see this happen, and as I've thought about it, I realize it's less because it's poised to wreck my conference (again) and more the cultural disconnect I feel as a part-time Terps fan and Marylander-by-association. Should this come to pass, as all indications are that it will, at least throw this geography and history nerd a bone and call the College Park-Penn State rivalry Cresap's War and award a Mason-Dixon crownstone as the trophy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Itch

I'm  a relative Johnny-come-lately to the world of college football. Growing up in an area where it's not big and attending undergrad with no football team, I really first became a fan when I started grad school at USF just under a decade ago. After catching every home game in my two years down there, I've averaged about 1-2 games a season since. Some of it's been USF on the road (and in just one case, USF at home), a couple have been bowl games, some's been FSU with my friend James, and a couple have been games to which I have no direct tie.

The itch is getting stronger.

Some time a few weeks ago, I found myself inexplicably mourning the season's mortality, despite being only about halfway over. When this season's done, I'll catch three games (maybe one more if someone comes through with bowl game tickets for my birthday or Christmas): USF at Temple, SC State at A&T, and the ACC Championship game. James and I are already talking plans for catching FSU as well as going to a game to which neither of us are directly connected. We've talked half-jokingly about hitting a different game each week of the season.

If I had the resources--both time and money--I'd be all over that. Some of my favorite literary escapism is the likes of Clay Travis' Dixieland Delight, Warren St. John's Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, and Adam Goldstein's Tailgate to Heaven, all of which involve spending a season on the road with football. I'd love to do this with a band nerd twist, hitting Band on the Road games each week and catching great football and bands each Saturday. If I had my druthers, each game would involve tailgating but still getting into the stadium early enough to catch everything from pregame to the 5th quarter, when applicable. I don't know how well that book would sell, but I'd sure have a lot of fun writing it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 12

Robert Champion
(Image from

Band on the Road typically serves to recognize a football and marching matchup where two marching bands are present. This week, it's going to recognize a game where that's not the case.

Game of the Week is going dark this week in honor of Robert Champion, the FAMU drum major who lost his life to hazing following last year's Florida Classic. This weekend it is once again the Florida Classic, and the much anticipated matchup will only feature one marching band, as the Marching 100 was suspended following Champion's death.

This weekend, as part of the Florida Classic's festivities, Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M are partnering on an anti-hazing and anti-bullying symposium. Sadly, even in the wake of such a high profile hazing death, other bands at the high school and college levels have been suspended following hazing allegations. I would like to believe that it is a sign of programs being rightfully vigilant and possibly too careful, but I fear that not all of these allegations are unfounded.

Chances are good there will be a moment of silence before the game to commemorate the anniversary. To that aim, I'm repeating something that I posted after this year's Honda Battle of the Bands:

[...] But I hope sincerely that during that moment of silence, something else enter[s] folks' hearts and minds. To those who have ever swung a paddle, a fist, a foot or an instrument so that a fellow bandsman or woman could "get down", or stood idly by as a party to such offenses, you are sadly part of a much darker legacy. It is this legacy, this insidious institution of hazing, which claimed the life of Robert Champion.

 Let's end hazing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

High Notes: 2012 Week 11

Despite the obvious natural rivalry, North Carolina and South Carolina don't face off on the gridiron to the frequency one may assume. While Clemson and NC State meet annually in the Textile Bowl as conference and divisional rivals, UNC and South Carolina have met just once in the past two decades. But each year, in a rivalry some may miss, North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State, the states' two HBCU land grants, meet in a rivalry matchup.

SC State had bested the Aggies the previous 11 meetings coming into this past Saturday's game. The Aggies ultimately emerged victorious, 17-7, over the visiting Bulldogs to snap this streak. But as you can probably guess, this post isn't about football.

The premise upon which this blog is founded is that I enjoy both sports and marching/athletic music. And while I know this stands on uneven footing in favor of my band side, never has the imbalance been as evident as it was this past weekend. I realized very quickly that the football game served only as a conduit to get the two bands directly into my veins.

To be fair--and one of the few detriments I'll mention about the day--the bands didn't much care that there was a football game going on either. While SC State's Marching 101 typically responded on first downs and on their Bulldogs' lone touchdown, the Blue & Gold Marching Machine couldn't much be bothered to acknowledge that a game was taking place at all. While I am a band nerd first, it is my belief that in a game situation, the band's first duty is to support the team.

That said, it didn't keep me from thoroughly enjoying the battle that took place for all of the requisite 80 minutes and then some. I began the game sitting next to A&T's band (conversation with a gentleman in my section, a Vietnam vet and former Aggie football player: Him: You know the drumline will be right there? Me: That's why I'm here.) and following both halftime performances, made my way to the other end to get a closer look at the 101. After the game was over, I went to the midway point between the bands--behind the goalposts--for a fair and balanced take on the 5th.

The two bands went at it all game long and into the 5th. I've captured one of the key matchups here, across two media: Sadly, my Flip battery died right as the 101 was starting Hay, so I had to catch the rest in much diminished quality on my phone. Here they are:

There'll be far more video coming once I get everything uploaded; I'll probably do a second post here and share it all over on the YouTube channel.

After Saturday's game, I couldn't help but admonish myself for living across town from A&T for the past 7+ years and never attending a game. This is something I'll certainly correct in the future. I knew I was headed to the right place when I purchased my tickets online and the seating chart clearly delineated the seating for the home and visiting bands.

To answer the question that's likely on everyone's mind: Who won? While both bands definitely brought it, I think I'd score this one for the 101. I could further subdivide and give some sections to the Marching Machine, but SC State took halftime (A&T had far too much park and bark for my tastes) and narrowly took an excellent 5th (the clincher was the 101's rendition of Someone Like You. Extremely well done, and with A&T following up with a medley that included the same piece, it made my preference for SC State's version clear). Sadly, the battle we didn't get to see was the up close and personal battle. A&T's Cold Steel drumline blocked up down on the field, but in what originally looked like a 101 retreat, I learned later that Greensboro PD stopped both bands from going toe-to-toe. All of our loss, really.

Team Check

I love my teams, but it's a good thing I don't live and die by them. I'd certainly be dead right now.

This football season's been a tough one. After starting out with a couple of improbable wins in turnover-laced games, the Eagles dropped one to the Cardinals. Seemingly righting the ship with a win the following week vs. the division rival New York Giants, the Eagles started the season 3-1. They haven't won a game since. The most recent loss was against the hated Cowboys in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, at USF, I'm pleased to report that it's basketball season. If you've been familiar with the sports landscape at USF, you know that's not something that is typically said with glee, especially not at the expense of football season. But following a great 2011-2012 campaign which resulted in an NCAA tournament berth and advancing to the field of 32, USF basketball was picked in the preseason to finish a respectable 8th (of 15) in Big East hoops. Coincidentally, USF football may find themselves at the same spot (of 8). USF finally picked up a win vs. UConn this past weekend after having dropped six straight, one of which I was present for (in the home of the Eagles, no less). For those keeping track at home, that's one weekend victory my teams have to show in the past six weeks. It's been rough.

On both Saturdays and Sundays, the calls for coaches' heads has risen from a whisper to a roar. With the Eagles, we knew that this season was going to be a re-audition for Andy Reid, as his contract was not extended as season's beginning. With that knowledge, it's doubtful we'll see him on the sidelines in Philly this coming year. In Tampa, Skip Holtz took a team that hadn't missed the postseason since 2005 to its first losing season in as much time last year, and, barring winning out this year, its second consecutive for the first time in program history. And while this is no fault of Holtz', the remaining victories may be a little more difficult to come by, as quarterback B. J. Daniels sustained a season- and career-ending injury in the UConn game.

Hopefully both squads right the ship, if not this season, then by doing what needs to be done in the offseason. Until then, it's not easy being green.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 11

This is an easy one for me. Week 11's Game of the Week is North Carolina A&T vs. South Carolina State. The Marching 101 will be making the trip up to Greensboro to take on the Blue and Gold Marching Machine, and I'll be there.

There'll be a thorough recap afterwards. In the meantime, keep up in realtime via Twitter, @80mins.

High Notes, 2012 Week 10

Some things just bear repeating.

LSU and Alabama met for the third time in two years this past weekend, and once again, it was a band matchup with noting. Unlike last year, when LSU only brought a pep band to Tuscaloosa, this game featured two bands at full strength--oh yeah, and the football wasn't bad either.

There's something a little rebellious about being the road band. While the home band's director or drum major is typically on headset with the gameday management folks, adhering to instructions of when to play and when not to, the road band typically has--within common courtesy that they may or may not exercise--carte blanche to crank it up whenever. For that reason, plus the eventual victory, Alabama's Million Dollar Band once again gets the recognition.

I've mentioned before how the SEC West is the division most adept at putting together an All 80 performance--that is, excellence in both football and marching band. Five of the bands have Sudlers, and while Auburn and Arkansas have recently fallen off their football prowess, A&M is certainly stepping up, and Mississippi State is ranked as well. So as tired as you may get of SEC love from the football media, I'm here to tell you it's founded on the band side as well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Field is Set

The field was unveiled earlier today for the Honda Battle of the Bands 2013. The bands are:

  • Albany State
  • Alcorn State
  • Bethune-Cookman
  • Edward Waters
  • Jackson State
  • North Carolina A&T
  • Tennessee State
  • Winston Salem State
I don't know that I'll make it back down to Atlanta this January, but there's plenty of local angle here for me. After all, I sit across town from A&T's Blue and Gold Marching Machine and across the Triad from Winston Salem State's Red Sea of Sound.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Band on the Road, 2012 Week 10

Sometimes, you just gotta believe.

I wanted so badly to believe that one of this week's marquee matchups, a 2012 edition of last year's GAME. OF. THE. CENTURY. and national championship game, would feature a fully traveling Million Dollar Band. After all, during last year's matchup in Tuscaloosa, despite being the biggest game of the regular season easily, LSU only brought a pep band. I revisited the schedule, took to the tweets, and found one lone piece of evidence upon which to hang my hat:

Aha! For reference, the internet leads me to believe that DSHS is Denham Springs High School in Baton Rouge. That's all the evidence I need. I read full band, and it's in Baton Rouge. I'll use that to extrapolate that the Million Dollar Band will be in the house on Saturday night, matching a pair of Sudler Trophy winners and a pair of SEC heavyweights in a night game in Tiger Stadium. An LSU loss gives the game slightly less luster than it had last year, but it may be all the more potent in the stands and at halftime.

High Notes, 2012 Week 9

I'll admit, I don't have much to go on. Not much football, and really nothing to speak of from my usual closely related topics. This week's high note may be the fact that I all-but-solidified that I'll be headed to the ACC Championship game. I had toyed with the idea of going anyway, with chances growing stronger as my boy James' FSU Seminoles inch ever closer to a championship game berth, but my friend Josh, who'll be up in the Carolinas for business, made the decision that he, and thus we, are going. He really had to twist my arm with that one.

High notes may be back in the saddle this week, but I warn you all: It's homecoming at UNCG, so I make no promises.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 9

If you mention college rivalry at all, and certainly college rivalry in the state of Alabama, Auburn and Alabama's Iron Bowl is sure to come up. Without getting into the finer points of the Morrill Land Grant Act, there's another pair of state schools who meet on the gridiron each fall: Alabama State and Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic in Birmingham.

On the off-chance that you're unfamiliar with HBCU classics, think mid-season bowl games. Some, like Indianapolis' Circle City Classic, invite a new pair of teams each year, while others--Magic City being one of them--are annual rivalry games between two schools. More than simply the game, festivities will typically include a parade, battle of the bands, pep rallies, and all sorts of other related festivities. Simply put, it's more band for your buck, and makes the Magic City Classic perfect for this week's Game of the Week.

And as with many HBCU matchups, the show is not over once the clock hits 0:00. Here's the 5th Quarter from last year's Magic City Classic.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Battle of the Bands: Tobacco Road Edition

There's nothing like a college sports rivalry.

This week UNC and NC State meet on the football field. While Duke-Carolina gets most of the press, especially on the hardwood, there's no love lost between Carolina and State either.

In what I'm hearing is an annual tradition, a contingent from NC State's Power Sound of the South hopped on the highway to Chapel Hill to blast The Army Goes Rolling Along their fight song towards several residence halls on campus. This is the sort of harmless trolling that accompanies good rivalries, especially those with geographic proximity. The folks at SB Nation's NC State blog, Backing the Pack, gives us the twitrospective here.

Apparently the high brass of the Marching Tar Heels feel the gauntlet was thrown. A few of their trumpets took to YouTube to whip 'em out in a challenge to NC State, the pinnacle of which was a high (several octaves above middle C. I can't tell you how many. I'm a drummer) D that one of the trio nearly (yes, he falls  short. Even a drummer can hear that) hits, followed by an invite to "see [them] on the 50".

For those wondering what the point even is of recording a lick from marching band standard Malaguena, allow me to shed a little light. First of all, for those unfamiliar with the trumpet personality/stereotype/reality, I'll point you to the diagram and equate the trumpets with wide receivers. The ego, the braggadocio, and the cocksure sense of self are all there. This particular trumpeter--I can't even put it on the trio, as two were really just playing supporting role--saw fit to show off his prowess with an admittedly impressively high note. You see, while there are many qualities to being a good player, one that first trumpets tend to latch onto is how high they can play. For maximum effort, hold it a beat beyond when the director cuts you off. It's practically an end zone dance!

So to recap, the PSOTS took their fight to the Heels' door, while three members of the Marching Tar Heels took to the internet for a lukewarm callout. I'm scoring this one decisively for NC State. And while I admittedly got a bit fired up about this, I also run a sports and marching/athletic music blog. Most everyone else is probably shaking their head and saying, "band nerds."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 8

I was out-of-pocket for much of this weekend--various family things on Saturday and hiking and camping Sunday into Monday--so I didn't catch a whole ton of football live. Luckily, people continue to believe that Amazing Happens Every Saturday, and often have their cameras at the ready.

The state of Ohio is trying to post a monopoly on #AHES, as TBDBITL does it again. Huffington Post shared this past weekend's show, and it was, quite literally, out of this world. Video below.

A couple of things worth noting about this particular show. One is that while I don't know that this was stated or even done intentionally, it's particularly fitting that Ohio State should do an Out of the World show when playing Purdue. After all, the recently departed Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University. Secondly, I notice that when entertaining, a lot of things that I'm not a big fan of in marching/athletic music--voiceovers being a big one--can be overlooked, as they certainly helped enhance this show.

One more note about this past weekend, and it makes the "high" notes in a different sense of the word. In some of the action I did catch on Saturday, I quipped prior to halftime that the Marching Chiefs and Band of the Hour were both in the house and the home audience wouldn't see any of it. A friend of mine who works at Miami shared that the Chiefs wouldn't be taking the field. Apparently, FSU didn't include the Chiefs in their ticket allotment, leading to them being relegated to the top 10 rows of Sun Life Stadium. Talk about high!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, Week 8

Week 8 puts up a strong slate of band on the road matchups. Each of the six AQ conferences has at least one travel game, and there are several big regional matchups and long-standing and growing rivalries.

While I already knew the Marching Virginians of Virginia Tech were going on the road this weekend, I  learned via the Twitter of Clemson's Band that Shakes the Southland that the two would be teaming up for a Military Appreciation show. I've mentioned before that I'm not typically a fan of mass bands, save for special occasions, but honoring our military certainly fits the bill. with that in mind, the game of the week, contrary to what Steve Spurrier may believe, will be in Death Valley. It looks like both bands are already hard at work:

Photo courtesy of Clemson's band on Twitter. Follow them @CUTigerBand

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amazing and Newsworthy

Not long after I unveiled my #AHES initiative, my old band director shared something with me on Facebook that was right on time.

I wasn't previously familiar with CNN's iReport series, but it seems the topic of the month is marching bands. They're inviting users to submit their own videos into what has become a treasure trove of band content. Check it out here!

Monday, October 15, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 7

While I include games where only a pep band travels in Band on the Road, I admittedly discount those matchups. I never include them as Games of the Week, and when it comes to looking at any given week's matchups, they're certainly second-class citizens. While this practice makes sense, I do need to keep in mind that a traveling "pep band" is not the same 30-50 member ensemble that plays in the basketball arena. Traveling bands still bring 100 or more, and while they may not take the field, they can still pack a punch in the band.

That was the story this Saturday in Baton Rouge. South Carolina only brought a pep band to LSU, but they put in work in the stands. While the Cocks fell short of the Tigers on the football field, and the diminished Mighty Sound of the Southeast certainly faced an uphill battle against the Golden Band from Tigerland, it was clear that pound for pound, South Carolina brought their A game.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Amazing Happens Every Saturday

But here's the thing: Amazing happens every Saturday on football fields throughout the country, and a lot of it happens when the game clock isn't running. Amazing happens in a variety of marching styles, with a variety of musical offerings, and it happens largely out of the view of television cameras, and sadly, also out of the view of live spectators who take the opportunity to grab a beer instead of watching what's going on on the field. October 11, 2011

It was just a line from a post that's turned into a bit of a recurring theme. At the time, I was talking about the Marching 110's performance of Party Rock Anthem, which had recently gone viral, and more broadly, other marching shows that gain pop appeal through viral means. Shortly after that post, the folks who run the UConn Marching Band's Twitter separated out what has become the tagline, and a concept was born. We're seeing halftime shows gain internet fame more frequently now, and while I love it and think it's good for the activity, I maintain my stand that Amazing Happens Every Saturday.

That's where you come in. If you come across Amazing on any given Saturday (or Thursday, Friday, or any other time) please share either an account, photo, or video of what happened. They can be shared over on the 80 Minutes Facebook page, or on Twitter using the tag #AHES.
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