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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Traditional. Power.

I've heard both Stanford head coach David Shaw and his predecessor Jim Harbaugh state how their interest is not simply in building a team but building a program. At least one of them mentioned he would like to see them get to the point where Stanford not being a winning team is a distant memory, and with their continued success they're certainly well down that road.

Last week, Stanford derailed Oregon's title hopes for the second time in as many years, while giving themselves an outside shot of entering the conversation. Not only are they in the conversation for a Pac-12 championship annually, but they are doing it in a traditional fashion; their pro-style offense serves as a foil to Pac-12 North rival Oregon's spread.

While the football team is traditional, their band the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, is anything but. In the tradition of Ivy League scramble bands, Stanford's band is perhaps the most nontraditional in the major conferences. While I know that Stanford embraces their "nerd" image, as one of the most academically rigorous programs in major college football, I don't know how much they embrace their unorthodox band.

As Stanford's football team continues to raise its national profile, might there be pressure on the LSJUMB to be a little more traditional? After all, probably their closest counterpart was the student-run Virginia Pep Band at UVA, which fell out of favor a decade ago and was replaced by the Cavalier Marching Band. Half a century prior, Stanford's baymates in Berkeley, the Cal Band, made the change after meeting Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Stanford's band the last of a dying breed at their level of competition, but is anyone seeking to change them? Each year, as they vie for a Rose Bowl berth and more likely than not a matchup against a traditional style, Sudler Trophy-winning band, the light is shone on how they are different. Will this remain their calling card or become an uncomfortable wrinkle to be smoothed out? The answer lies in Palo Alto.
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