The age-old debate about whether the NFL product is better than the NCAA’s commodity is easily settled: the NFL lacks marching bands.
The Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins escape blame here as they do possess marching bands at their home games, but every other professional football team is on blast here: live music with brass, drums and woodwinds is MUCH better than the tunes pumped through the speakers during timeouts and in-between downs.
There is nothing better than a really good college football band to accompany great on-field action. Playing the theme from Magnificent Seven after a touchdown and extra point are the things that are SO underrated in the collegiate athletics experience. Even at volleyball games at KU, rocking out to a massive band playing Centerfold by J. Geils Band during TV timeouts is a GREAT feeling.
But which team have the best band? And is there a direct correlation in top brass with top product? Here’s a quick ranking of the top five marching bands in the college football scene:
#5 – University of Michigan, Michigan Marching Band
If you were a weird kid like my brother and I and bought school fight songs on our dad’s iTunes growing up, there’s a decent chance the Michigan Marching Band was actually providing the content. Classic uniforms, nothing to brag home about in that department, but the sound is what really matters and they are the definition of the phrase “music to my ears.” Oh, and they have one of the most recognizable fight songs of all time.
#4 – Notre Dame, Band of the Fighting Irish
Story time: I went to a Notre Dame vs. Tulsa game a few years ago. I think Joe Montana’s son was playing QB at one point and Brian Kelly made a TERRIBLE decision late in the game that cost the Fighting Irish a victory (shocker), but the day was still a blast. My dad, his high school friend and myself left for Notre Dame Stadium around 7:30 am for a 2:30 pm game time.
We had A LOT of time to spare, so while my dad took a quick snooze in the parking lot, his buddy grabbed a security jacket he had somehow confiscated somewhere along the road and walked me through the hotspots of game day like it was nothing. Hands down, greatest college football experience I’ve ever had and I just called a game on the radio last month. Anyways, one place he took me was to the indoor practice facility, which the team uses in extreme weather on MOST occasions…*ahem* Brian Kelly *ahem*… Inside, the Band of the Fighting Irish were practicing the Notre Dame Victory March. Just me, my dad’s friend and the band. Nothing like it. So #4 is a sentimental pick.
#3 – Ohio University, Marching 110
This band is the only group on the list I have never seen perform live at some point in my life. They were hot in the streets a few years ago with tremendous formations, but without an on-field product to continue the growth of their legend, they were quickly cast aside. But this is an elite group of marchers. They’ve performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, and in 1976, became the first college band to take the stage of Carnegie Hall. Must’ve been all that practice.
Texas A&M, Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band
Penn State, Blue Band – lost points because they have people sing, too. no, stop that immediately.
#2 – USC, Trojan Marching Band
Quite possibly the most famous marching band in the land, they’ve been featured in movies, commercials, parades; you name it, they’ve done it. I had the pleasure of watching their pregame and halftime shows at the Cotton Bowl last year and their band’s performance was much better than Sam Darnold’s and the rest of the team. They’ve got theatrics with horses and there’s a lot going on, but there are few fight songs that match up with SC’s Tribute to Troy and Fight On.
#1 – Ohio State, Ohio State University Marching Band
USC’s football team weren’t the only Trojans taking an L in Dallas last December. For as incredible as the Trojan Marching Band was, Ohio State stole the show. If you followed the Student Union Sports Snapchat last year, I documented the whole thing while in attendance. It was a GREAT show. Sound? Perfect. Formations? Flawless. The Buckeyes just couldn’t be beat that day. Slightly beating out the Trojans, rounding out the countdown and taking you back into reality is your Ohio State University Marching Band.