Keep an Eye On

I figured before we start this season, I'd give both a team and a band to keep an eye on this coming season in each of the six (yes, SIX) AQ conferences.

My team to keep an eye on in the ACC is Florida State. I keep more of an eye on them than anyone else, as I tend to attend games with a friend of mine who's an alum. Of course, the fact that they're on USF's schedule this year doesn't hurt either. I'll stay in Tallahassee for the Marching Chiefs as well, who are the only college marching band in town for at least this year. I think the Chiefs may have a good shot at being the ACC's first ever Sudler Trophy winner, though who knows when that'll take place.

Big East
Excepting the ever-watchful eye I keep on my own Bulls, I'm interested to see what we can expect out of Rutgers post-Schiano. I'm hoping not much, because, well, I hate them. At halftime, I'm looking forward to conference newcomer Temple's Diamond Marching Band, who I'll get to see live in Philly this October

Big Ten
I don't know if Michigan State is pissed off, but they've got every right to be. They got passed up each of the past two years for a BCS game: In 2010, as a Big Ten co-champion, they watched the other two champions head to major bowls despite a the same record as co-champ Wisconsin and having beaten the Badgers head-to-head. In 2011, in-state rival Michigan headed to the BCS despite the Spartans winning the Legends Division and beating the Wolverines. The Ohio State Marching Band is a year behind their football counterparts--the team faced a transition from a longtime coach before the 2011 season, while the band faces that now with Dr. Woods' retirement.

Big 12
Call it nostalgia--I've certainly waxed poetic on former conferencemate West Virginia before--but I'm really interested to see how they do in a conference in which they don't even share a time zone with any of their peers. Texas Tech's Goin' Band from Raiderland will relocated in the stands in a move that will hopefully maximize their acoustics. As a band that has always come through loud and clear on TV, that's an almost frightening prospect.

OK, i'll bite and feed the USC beast, although the point I intend to make is not about their dominance, but rather their mortality. In each of the past several years, even before sanctions, they dropped a game or two they had no business losing, and I have a feeling that may be the case again this year. And while I'll readily admit I catch precious little of west coast bands, I'll be lazy and point the spotlight at the nation's most prominent scramble band at Stanford.

John L. Smith knows he has a 10 month contract, and that to me makes Arkansas both potentially exciting and potentially dangerous. I expect them to be playing YOLO ball and pulling out all the stops, especially in division matchups with Alabama and LSU. And now forming at the North end of Kyle Field, I expect for Texas A&M's Fightin' Texas Aggie Band to add significantly to an already strong SEC West, as every band not in the state of Mississippi holds a Sudler Trophy.