When the Ohio State football team invaded enemy territory last weekend, they were not alone. Not only were they accompanied by thousands of Buckeye faithful who made it possible to get an ‘O-H-I-O’ cheer going around The Big House yet another year, the Ohio State Marching Band was also in attendance. This marked the fourth road game of the year for TBDBITL, a very busy season but one that has allowed tens of thousands of people, OSU fans and opposing fans, to see the band who would not normally see them due to not being able to attend a game in Columbus.
The band departed Columbus on Friday and headed north to Sandusky, Ohio where they performed a concert at the Kalahari Waterpark and Conference Center. A group of students from high schools in the Sandusky area had the privilege to spend part of the day with TBDBITL director Jon Waters where they got to learn about the band. Things got even better for those students when they got to play with the band on stage for part of the concert. I thought this was a very classy move on the part of the band, giving these high school students and their families a memory they will cherish forever while also doing a great job of recruiting for the band.
After facing the number one team in the country on Sunday, things didn’t get easier for the Ohio State women’s basketball team as they traveled to College Park to face 8th ranked Maryland in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge; yes, someone decided that OSU and Maryland would play each other in both the men’s and women’s challenges and both games would occur at the same time. The Terrapins have done very well in the challenge for the ACC over the years and were looking to conclude their participation on the ACC side with a win while the Buckeyes were looking to improve on their 2-4 record in the challenge.
Maryland opened the scoring and jumped out to a 5-0 lead but Ohio State quickly responded with four straight points to make it a 5-4 game two and a half minutes in. The Terrapins used a 7 to 2 run to extend their lead to six points but the Buckeyes quickly responded and used an Ameryst Alston three pointer to cut the deficit to 13-11 with just over six minutes run off the clock. From there the two teams traded baskets for the rest of the first half with Maryland unable to get more than a four point lead and OSU unable to take the lead despite chances. Neither team shot well in the first half, both going around 30% from the floor. The Terrapins dominated the boards early on but as the half went on, OSU evened that out a bit and at halftime Maryland held a 26 to 21 advantage in rebounds. The Buckeyes did a great job taking care of the ball early while forcing Terrapin turnovers but just like in rebounds, those numbers pretty much evened out by the end of the half.
After bouncing back from their second loss of the season with a win over Lehigh, the Ohio State women’s basketball team faced their biggest challenge of the season today as they took on top ranked Connecticut in Springfield, Massachusetts in the premier game of the first annual women’s Hall of Fame Challenge. The Huskies entered this game 8-0 and boasting an average margin of victory of nearly 40 points which included games against #6 Stanford, #8 Maryland, and #13 Penn State; UConn’s average margin of victory in those games was 18 points.
Both teams opened the game with a very deliberate tempo, moving the ball around on offense and working to get good looks though good defense by both squads limited those looks early. Connecticut scored the first four points of the game before Martina Ellerbe got things going for the Buckeyes with a three pointer and Ameryst Alston followed with a layup to give OSU a 5-4 lead. The Huskies responded with six straight points to retake the lead. A jumper and a free throw by Alston would pull the Buckeyes within two, 10-8, with eleven minutes remaining in the half but Connecticut responded with a 10 to 2 run to extend their lead to double digits, 20-10. Ellerbe’s second three pointer of the night would make that lead 20-15 with four and a half to go but then the Huskie defense locked down as they closed the half on a 15 to 2 run to go into the half leading 35-17.
The second half mostly played out as an exercise in the inevitable as Ohio State never managed to seriously threaten Connecticut. The Huskies extended their lead to 21 on a couple occasions and the Buckeyes managed to get as close as 14, 50-36, with eight minutes to play but for the most part the two teams traded baskets. When the final buzzer sounded, UConn had a 70-49 win.
To most Ohio State fans, the OSU-Indiana game was Senior Day for the football players. However it was also Senior Day for the marching band which saw the departing fourth and fifth year band members honored at the end of the halftime show; graduating members who have been in the band less than four years did not have their name read out during the ceremony. Senior Day is always a bitter sweet day for the band members as they perform for the last time in Ohio Stadium in the uniform that they earned through with years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.
The fans in the stadium may have been cold and bundled up due to the lightly falling snow but the band quickly got them on their feet and cheering with the traditional pregame show. The light snow fall actually helped to accentuate the skill of the band as the band members left footprints in the snow; check out the end of the first video where following ramp you can clearly see how each band member stepped in the footprint of the member in front of them, leaving only 8 blank spaces in the snow every five yards.
The show for the Indiana game was obviously going to be the show that the band would take to Michigan and thus this highly influenced the choice of show theme. As a tradition, the band almost always takes a patriotic themed show to M*ch*g*n. This is done knowing that due to the bitterness of the rivalry, the M*ch*g*n fans are going to boo the band and in theory that will be limited with a patriotic show as even Wolverines wouldn’t boo America. From my experience this generally works and the Michigan fans just have to get all their booing in during pregame. Personally I didn’t mind the booing during pregame, and I know many other band members who felt the same way, as it actually fired us up as we prepared to take the field.
This year the band decided to use their patriotic show to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. After the season the band has had, expectations were obviously very high for the band and while the band could easily have gotten cheers by just playing a few patriotic tunes and forming an American flag, anyone who knows TBDBITL knows that they would never settle for such a thing. Instead, the band came up with a show that serves as a perfect cap to a phenomenal season.
After forming an ‘1863’ on the field to music from the movie Gettysburg at the start of the show, the band quickly drew cheers as they formed a trio of soldiers marching across the field with a battle flag waving while playing “Battle Cry of Freedom”. The band then transitioned to a Confederate and a Union soldier who were thinking about home to the strains of “Home, Sweet Home”. Next up was “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and a cavalry officer with sword on horseback. Perhaps the most famous speech ever given by a president was Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and as the words of that speech were read, the band played music from Gettysburg and “Taps” while forming the Lincoln Memorial. For the finale, the band was joined by the Ohio State Men’s Glee Club for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Not content with the two animated formations they had already done, the band formed and fired a cannon and then had a Confederate and Union soldier shake hands during the finale.
This was another great show that had a bit of everything we want for an OSUMB performance: the animated formations the band has become famous for, some more modern line and block drill, props, pyrotechnics,… The music selection for the show also did a great job showing off the sound and range of the band; compare the sound of the band during the music from the movie Gettysburg and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to see the perfect example of the band’s range. The show, like so many done over the past two seasons by TBDBITL, got a lot of attention in the media, showing up on Fox Sports, Deadspin, the UK’s Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and many others.
After the game, the band performed their normal postgame concert on the field before marching up the ramp and under the stadium where the seniors were dismissed for the last time at a home game. This march back up the ramp is a very emotional moment for all the departing band members as they know that was the last time they will perform in Ohio Stadium.
A House Divided?
The band taking a Civil War themed show to M*ch*g*n is sort of appropriate as like the war, it is a bitter rivalry that divides families and friends. As much as it pains us, most of us probably have at least one friend who is a Wolverine and many of us probably know families that are split between the two schools; my grandfather actually went to M*ch*g*n and my dad cheered for the Wolverines until I went to OSU and he saw the light (somehow I always had a fondness for OSU as a photo of myself in an OSU jersey from when I was 5 proves).
It isn’t my story that I wish to talk about this week; rather, it is the story of Liz McIntosh-Russell (@osumarchingmom) and her son Phil. Phil is a 5th year sousaphone player in the OSUMB who has been a three time i-dotter (September 1st, 2012 against Miami (Ohio), September 7th, 2013 against San Diego State, and November 2nd, 2012 at Purdue). So Liz of course is a proud mother of band member but there are lots of those, what makes this story interesting? Well, in addition to being the mother of a member of the OSUMB, Liz is also an alumnus of the M*ch*g*n Marching Band where she was their first ever female sousaphone player. Big Ten marching bands are traditionally quite masculine and sousaphone sections are even more so. Thus to be the first female member of the MMB was “pretty crazy” as Liz puts it; she recounted how MMB director George Cavender would stop during rehearsal and say to the trumpets “There’s a girl in the tuba section!” 60 Minutes Australia even did a short piece on Liz when they were at a Michigan because as Liz puts it, “women just didn’t play the big horn all that much at the time.”
Being in the MMB obviously gave Liz a different perspective on the rivalry than OSU fans get. She recalled the 1978 game played in Columbus where the MMB staff decided that the band would form a script ‘State’ while playing the OSU fight song. The sousaphones completed the formation by marching down and crossing the ‘Ts’, complete with the traditional i-dotter bow. As Liz remembers, “It was NOT well received. Knowing what I know now about Script Ohio and tradition, I am surprised we made it out alive.”
When it came time for Phil to decide on where to go to college, at first he was going to follow in his mother’s footsteps and attend that school up North. Phil’s audition for the M*ch*g*n School of Music didn’t go well though and he was not admitted to the school. Phil and his mom decided to attend the OSU School of Music orientation session on a whim and while there Phil turned to his mom and said “this feels like home” and she agreed. Phil auditioned for the OSU School of Music and was accepted.
Phil’s first tryout for the OSUMB did not go as well but he stuck with it, staying in Columbus the summer after his freshman year so that he could practice for tryouts more. Phil’s second year of trying out was more successful and he made the band and eventually went on to become an i-dotter. Phil graduated last May with a Bachelors of Music Education and chose to take a class at OSU this fall so he could be in the band for the final year of his eligibility (a member can only be in TBDBITL for 5 years).
Despite her being in the M*ch*g*n Marching Band for a short time, she left early to join the Navy, Liz has become a complete Buckeye fan thanks to Phil’s experiences as a student and musician at Ohio State. See, not only is TBDBITL highly skilled and entertaining, they also have the power to transform Wolverine fans into Buckeyes.
This week is always a busy one for the band. Everyone loves to put on pep rallies and events for M*ch*g*n week and the band is flooded with requests for a pep band from all around the state. While most of these get turned down as there is just no way for the band to make all of them and still have time to do things like rehearse, eat, sleep, study, etc. There are some pep bands the band does and band members will be busy this week performing at various events; fortunately the Beat M*ch*g*n pep rallies tend to be a lot of fun for the band.
The fact that the game has been moved to the Saturday after Thanksgiving makes this week even busier and more hectic for band members. While there will be a little time to enjoy the holiday, band members shouldn’t eat too much turkey because while the rest of you are sleeping or out shopping on Friday, the band will be reporting to the stadium to load buses and head north. It has been a long standing tradition of the band to honor Woody Hayes by never staying in That State Up North and thus the band normally will spend the Friday night before a game in Ann Arbor or East Lansing in a hotel in the Toledo area. As part of the trip, the band also traditionally performs a concert somewhere in the Toledo area. This year the concert will be at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio on Friday at 7:30pm; tickets for the concert can be ordered from the OSU Alumni Club of Erie County.
A big part of what makes college football so special is the passion of those connected to it: the players, the coaches, the band, the fans, etc. This passion and the intensity of emotions that it causes is what makes college football so great, it causes players to play harder and make spectacular plays that seem beyond their ability, it causes band members to devote hundreds of hours to practice in order to make the band and to get to perform at the game, and it causes fans to get up at ridiculous times and drive a few hours just to stand outside in often inclement weather to cheer on some kids that they don’t know personally.
However, like all good things, too much passion can be a bad thing and can cause people to go too far. This is most easy to see when a team loses and its fans have to find some outlet for the anger, disappointment, and frustration they feel. While most fans deal with these emotions in most appropriate, or at least harmless, ways, that isn’t true for everyone. Some fans go too far and react in ways that are inappropriate or even illegal. We have all probably had the unfortunate experience of seeing a fan attack an opposing fan, either verbally or physically, after a loss or engage in some sort of destructive act against physical property.
Technology has changed not only how we follow games but how we deal with losses. In the past fans would probably go to a bar, complain about things to other fans over a few drinks, and then go home, all under the watchful eye of a bartender and bouncer who would keep things from going too far. The invention of message boards made it easier for fans to reach out to other fans to commiserate with over a loss without the need to go to a bar. This has obviously been a boon for fans who are spread around the world, it also can cause anger to fester and grow as there is rarely a watchful eye to put a stop to things; fortunately the fact that most message board posters are at home when posting serves as a nice safety mechanism there. Twitter has provided yet another change with how fans interact as now they can not only share their thoughts with other fans, they can even do so with some of the players on their teams. While this can have the benefit of increasing a feeling of community, it also makes it easy for fans to lash out in inappropriate ways toward student athletes.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team entered day three of the Hall of Fame Challenge as the only undefeated team in the Columbus site after having beaten Old Dominion on Friday and then rallied to beat Marist on Saturday. Less than 24 hours after that thrilling comeback against the Red Foxes, the Buckeyes were back on the court to take on in-state foe Bowling Green.
A Darryce Moore layup opened the scoring but OSU’s lead was short lived as Bowling Green used a pair of three pointers to take an early 8-2 lead. It quickly became apparent that the Falcons were going to use a similar strategy as Marist did and attack the Buckeyes from beyond-the-arc. Unfortunately OSU still struggled to close out on the three point shooters and Bowling Green took advantage of those open looks. To compound problems for Ohio State, the Buckeyes struggled with their own shooting and as a result found themselves down 5 to 7 points for most of the first half before they managed to trim their deficit to 25-21 heading into the locker room. Considering the fact that OSU made only 4 first half field goals on 22 attempts, being down only 4 to a Bowling Green team that was 6 of 12 from beyond the three point line wasn’t too bad.
After Bowling Green stretched their lead to 37-28 just four minutes into the second half, Ohio State responded with seven straight points, bookended by layups by Moore, to pull within two points with fourteen and a half to go. The Falcons responded though with a 12to 0 run of their own to stretch their lead to 49-35 just past the midpoint of the half. The run proved to be a killer and the Buckeyes wouldn’t manage to get close than 8 the rest of the way as Bowling Green coasted to a 64-52 win.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team didn’t get much of a break after their win over Old Dominion last night in the first game of the Hall-Of-Fame Challenge as the Buckeyes faced the Marist Red Foxes in the second game of the challenge. Fans of OSU women’s basketball probably remember Marist as the team that upset the Buckeyes in the opening round of the 2007 NCAA tournament and I at least was looking for revenge.
Ohio State opened the scoring with a Darryce Moore layup on the first possession but things slowed down for the Buckeyes from there and they found themselves in a 10-6 hole five minutes into the game. A pair of layups by Raven Ferguson and then a layup by Ashley Adams gave the Buckeyes the lead back 12-10 but the Red Foxes responded with a 7 to 0 run to go up 17-12 with eight minutes remaining in the half. The two teams went back and forth from there with Marist extending their lead to 30-20 with just under two minutes to go. OSU put on a great performance in the final twenty seconds of the half though, getting an old fashioned three point play from Ashley Adams, forcing a turnover, and then closing the half with a Martina Ellerbe layup that cut the Marist lead to 30-25 as the two teams went into the locker rooms. The key difference between the two teams in the first half was the outside shooting, Marist was on fire from beyond the arc and that gave them the lead even though they shot pretty much the same overall as Ohio State.
Celebrating a great senior day, and getting ready for The Game… but this was too good not to post ASAP.