The Final: March Madness
Forever dissed, school bands boast colorful, mischievous histories. You can't make this stuff up -- well, not all of it
By John Walters
Don't underestimate the contribution of the marching band to college sports. Those pimp percussionists and woodwind wizards have given us Drumline, the greatest band movie of all time after Spinal Tap. They've given us punch lines: "There was this one time, at band camp...." And now this time line, which will double as a true/false quiz on great moments (or not) in band history. Good luck. Answers at the end.
1. 1941: The University of Chicago disbands its marching band -- two years after having disbanded its football team.
2. 1949: A piccolo player reportedly has a romantic encounter.
3. 1967: During a nationally televised game against Harvard on ABC, the Princeton band intentionally spells out the letters NBC.
4. 1974: On Children's Day in New Haven, Yale's band dedicates a halftime show to birth control.
5. 1975: Historically Lutheran München College is sued by Ohio State for copyright infringement after its halftime marching oompah band performs the "dotting of the umlaut."
6. 1979: At an SEC school that shall remain nameless, a trombone player is suspended after he is discovered alone in the band shed "tooting his own horn."
7. 1981: The Brown band visits Columbia, in New York City. During the halftime show the band forms the "I love NY" symbol. Suddenly three saxophone players don stocking masks and begin mugging their fellow performers while other bandsmen pretend not to notice.
8. 1981: During a postgame performance a few members of the Stanford band reportedly urinate on the field.
9. 1988: A piccolo player reportedly has a romantic encounter with someone who is not also in the band.
10. 1989: After a new dean is named at Columbia, band members blockade his office, refusing to disperse until he accepts a list of 10 demands. Among them: "Write a glowing law school recommendation for [the band manager]."
11. 1991: At halftime of the Sugar Bowl, the Virginia band makes a "flesh pile" atop an Elvis impersonator, after which the P.A. announcer says, "The mystery is now solved; Elvis is officially dead."
12. 1998: The Prairie View A&M and Southern bands engage in an on-field halftime fracas. "Right about then," SI reports, describing the drumline drubbing, "the two bands started dotting each other's eyes."
13. 2003: VH1 produces an episode of Bands Reunited featuring the five members of Fleetwood Mac and the Southern Cal marching band, all of whom played together on the title track of Mac's 1979 double album, Tusk. The reunion falls through, however, when it is revealed that during those studio sessions Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had torrid affairs with the Trojans' percussion section.
14. 2004: During halftime of a game against BYU, a Stanford band member "marries" five Dollies (cheerleaders) as the public address announcer declares it a sacred bond "between a man and a woman ... and a woman ... and a woman ... and a woman ... and a woman."
Answer Key: 1. T; 2. F;3. T;4. T;5. F;6. F;7. T;8. T; 9. F; 10.. T; 11. T; 12. T; 13. F; 14. T
Issue date: September 30, 2004