Great article in today’s Wall Street Journal titled “The Real Million-Dollar Band” that I just have to share. Its title, FYI, is a reference to (and repudiation of 🙂 ) the official name for the University of Alabama’s marching band, “The Million Dollar Band,” and the article opens with this sentence:
Here in Ohio State country, it’s hard to say who is having a better season: the school’s undefeated football team or its marching band.
Oh yeah, totally. Both band and team are having an amazing season!
I’m not a football fan. Most years I don’t even bother watching the Super Bowl, especially now that all the cool television commercials can be found everywhere on the Internet the next day. But I do follow Ohio State football. In fact, the one and only game I am guaranteed to watch every year is the epic annual match-up between college football’s two fiercest rivals, the spectacle to which every television and radio in Ohio is tuned the last Saturday in November. The Ohio State–Michigan game.
OSU fans probably also recognize the acronym in my blog-post title today. It is a legacy of legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes, who once described the Ohio State marching band as “the best damn band in the land”—politely shortened to TBDBITL.
I grew up in Ohio. Played clarinet in my high school’s marching band. Our band director was freshly graduated from Ohio State when he began his job at my high school the same September I entered as a freshman. Hanging on the wall of Mr. Tolliver’s office was the equivalent of the Harvard diploma one might find in an attorney’s office—an artifact that not only testified to Mr. Tolliver’s bonafides but also boasted of his membership status in a similarly elite group. For Mr. Tolliver had marched in TBDBITL! And on his office wall hung a framed black-and-white photograph of the OSU Marching Band’s famous “Script Ohio” in finished formation.
A couple weeks ago, the OSU band did a tribute to Michael Jackson so fabulous that the late singer’s mother telephoned the band director personally to congratulate him. Here is video of that performance from the student-run OSU BuckeyeTV YouTube channel. Watch for something really, really special beginning at about 4:40 minutes in. (Hint: it’s the gloved-one’s most famous dance move :))