The Michigan Wolverines and Georgia Bulldogs will meet in the second semifinal in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Michigan made the playoff after beating archrival Ohio State in the final game of the regular season and Iowa in the Big Ten championship game. After spending the entire season at #1, Georgia dropped the SEC championship game to Alabama, but only fell to #3. The Orange Bowl matches a pair of Sudler Trophy winners: Michigan was the first to receive the honor, while Georgia was the first in the SEC. However, as is Orange Bowl tradition, both bands will miss halftime, as their recording artist halftime show will get fancy like Applebee's on a date night with Walker Hayes.
The two programs both have ties to bandsmen I admire. My high school's blue and gold may as well have been maize and blue under the direction of Paul Parets, who spent 36 years as director of the Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band. Among the band's accolades with Mr. Parets at the helm were five trips to the Rose Parade, multiple trips to the Lord Mayor's New Year's Day parade in London, St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland, and of particular note here, performances in the Orange Bowl Parade in Miami.
This past January, I lost a friend and colleague who passed unexpectedly in Dr. Dennis AsKew, who served as director of the School of Music at UNCG. I met Dennis when he was serving as the pep band director, and we connected over our love of athletic bands, including drum corps. He marched sousaphone for Georgia and loved his Dawgs. Dennis also attended Michigan.
Should Alabama win the other semifinal, the winner of this game will be headed for another dual Sudler matchup.