Battle of the Bands

As we continue to remain hopeful that the start of the college football season is right around the corner, takes a look at some of the top college marching bands that definitely add to the college game day experience.

Without question, school spirit is an important part of the sense of community and family at any university, and one of the main shows of school spirit for any school that’s big on sports are the football and basketball games. Before these games start, and at the half-time section of most football games, a college’s marching band will step in to make sure the crowd is hyped up and ready to enjoy the game!

There is definitely a lot of debate on which school has the best marching band – some of the most notable include:

  • All American Marching Band – Purdue University
  • Leland Stanford Marching Band – Stanford University
  • Human Jukebox – Southern University
  • Michigan Marching Band – University of Michigan
  • Longhorn Band – University of Texas
  • Fightin’ Texas Aggies Band – Texas A&M University

In this article, however, gives props and highlights the traditions of two of the most famous colleges marching bands, Ohio State and Penn State, who unfortunately will not be able to perform this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Best Damn Band in the Land

The Ohio State marching band, also known as “The Best Damn Band in The Land” is one of the most iconic college marching bands in the country. With over 225 students strong, it is also one of the biggest college marching bands. Ohio State’s band is also unique because it’s based on traditional British Military brass bands, instead of the other band models most schools typically follow. Choosing to go with this type of band model allows them to modify their entrances onto the football field, which they do by having their drum major sprint down the field, eventually leading the band into signing the school’s signature “Ohio” onto the football field.

Over the years, one of the best and most memorable Ohio State marching band traditions at football games is its signature and dotting of the “i”.  This is done when the marching band spells out “Ohio” with the entire band. Once the signature is completed, the drum major and the person who dots the “i” will high five each other, and the band will get into formation to let the football team run onto the field amidst a frenzied crowd.

As Buckeye fans can attest, Ohio State is big on school spirit, and the school also has an athletic band which serves as its version of a pep band. This Ohio State band performs at all of the men’s basketball games and plays similar music to the marching band to get fans fired up and rowdy before and during Buckeye hoops games.

The Blue Band

Often times amidst a sea of white-shirted Nittany Lion fans at Beaver Stadium, the Penn State marching band, also known as the “Blue Band”, is another iconic college marching band.

The Blue Band was originally formed in 1899 by George H. Deike as a six member drum/bugle corp. Interestingly, the significant increase in size from 6 to 320 members (presently) was made possible when the school received a donation from Andrew Carnegie that made forming a brass band possible.

With its large student membership, the Penn State marching band has added many fan favorite traditions over the years that helps fire up its faithful. Some of these include performing the “Floating Lion drill,” performing “Fight On, State,” to celebrate Penn State touchdowns; and even signing the Nittany Lion before marching to Beaver Stadium.

Tradition and School Spirit

It’s hard to imagine big-time college football games or March madness without the presence of marching bands or pep bands. They have a huge impact on furthering traditions and firing up their respective fan bases. College bands are an important aspect of the college game experience, and with their ability to get fans excited before games, make students happy to take pride in their schools, and inspire football and basketball teams, who wouldn’t want to see them out on the field or court having fun?