College “Marching” Bands

by Travis Normand

I think I am in the minority when it comes to my opinion of most college bands.  Personally, I don’t care for the performances of what I call “show bands.”

However, I like the idea of college bands and would never want them to disappear or go away.  They are too important to the overall college football game experience.

What I dislike is their unoriginal nature.  The fact that most of them wear the same uniform (despite different colors) and they all do the same thing (in terms of “marching”).  It wouldn’t hurt some of these bands to be a little original.  Don’t even get me started on their music choices.

However, one of these bands finally did something rather cool.  On 6 October 2012, the Nebraska Corn Huskers traveled to Ohio State to take on the Buckeyes.  The Ohio State University Marching Band (or The Best Damn Band in the Land, as it is commonly known) apparently put on quite a show during the half-time break.

When I first saw this video, I thought it was a fake.  However, I can’t find anything online that would confirm my suspicion, so I am assuming it is legit and unaltered.

Unfortunately, the entire performance of the band is less than spectacular.  Playing music from old (and new) video games, while creating random logos and symbols from those games, is just not what I find to be inspiring or interesting.

However, at the six-minute mark of the video (6:00) the band performs a horse formation that is pretty interesting.  I highly recommend checking this part of the video out (and skipping the rest).

The following text accompanied the video on

This is the halftime performance of The Ohio State University Marching Band on 10/6/12 against Nebraska. The theme was Video games and it included parts from Zelda, Halo, Pokemon, Tetris, and others.

Zelda?  Pokemon?  Really?

When I was a kid, long before I was in high school, I was fascinated by the video game titled The Legend of Zelda (I outgrew this fascination by the time I reached high school).  By the time Pokemon was released, I had already graduated from college.

Regardless, neither of these things were on my mind at any point during my college career.  I guess I was too busy studying, going out, having fun, chasing girls, going to parties, etc. to think about Pokemon (something I have always assumed was a toy for smaller children).  I wonder if the people who market the Pokemon games and toys know that their target demographic also includes college students at Ohio State?

Oh well, at least the horse formation is kind of cool.

Showband of the Southwest

The photo directly above is the University of Texas’ Showband of the Southwest.  While this particular band is “okay” (for the most part), I am going to use them as an example of what is wrong with most college marching bands.

I feel like I should start with a positive, so I will say that at least this band’s uniform is somewhat original and is representative of the school.  However, having said that, the rest of it is a complete disaster.  If I was an alum, I would cringe every time this band performed in front of another school’s fan base.  When the performance was over, I would feel like I should apologize to everyone in the stadium for what they just witnessed.

If you want a “western” look, that is perfectly fine, but why can’t you spend some money on the uniform itself?  After all, isn’t this suppose to be something you are proud of?  If you are going to wear it for four years, then why not spend the money on a decent looking uniform

For starters, get a real cowboy hat.  You know, a hat that doesn’t come with a little white string you tie under your chin.  Did John Wayne ever have one of those?  I think not.

Second, there has to be a material that is better than polyester, right?  If nothing else, you perform most of your games in Texas (where it is HOT), so lose the polyester.

Speaking of Texas, what is up with the white sneakers?  I thought this was Texas?  Don’t you guys wear boots?  Do you mean to tell me that all those “Texans” at the University of Texas are not really Texans after all?  Do any of those Texans have a problem with the fact that their band is dressed up like a bunch of cowboys, yet none of them are actually wearing boots?  Do they not have cowboy boots in Austin?

Look at this from the perspective of a 20-year-old college student.  If you weren’t a member of this band, would you ever decide on your own to wear these tennis shoes?  Remember, “What would John Wayne do?”  He wouldn’t wear white tennis shoes with is cowboy outfit, I know that.

Finally, in case you are wondering, I don’t have a problem with the 1950’s style Lawrence Welk Show cowboy uniforms.  If anything, that aspect is unique, despite being somewhat goofy.  After all, that style of Hollywood cowboy uniform was actually a look at one point in time (although, I think even those guys wore boots).

Note:  Just as a fyi, there are a lot of bands that I really like.  These few bands usually have a great look and an original uniform.  Some of them even go so far as to play decent music that isn’t completely random.  Finally, if I am really lucky, the band has some kind of tradition or identifying characteristic that links it to the school it is trying to represent.

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