Ohio State Marching Band Traditions

Ohio State Marching Band Website

Skull session
In 1932 Eugene J. Weigel enhanced the band’s performance by having members completely memorize music before the game each week. By doing this bandsmen could concentrate more on the marching maneuvers without sacrificing the music. Weigel then scheduled a final rehearsal of the music before game time so the band could play and think through the show one last time – one last “Skull Session.” In the old Rehearsal Hall there was room for a few hundred parents and fans to sit and listen. Eventually, watching this rehearsal became so popular tickets were issued to bandsmen to make sure their parents had seats. After St. John Arena was built in 1957, Jack Evans requested its use for the last rehearsal before game time. Athletics Director Richard Larkins was happy to oblige, as he was eager to show off the new facility. The skull session was changed to a concert/pep rally atmosphere by Dr. Paul Droste which continues today. Skull session starts one and a half hours before kickoff of every home football game. It is a popular concert/pep rally, with over 10,000 fans in attendance. Seats for skull session are in high demand and it is not unusual for dedicated fans to arrive up to two hours before the band.

Ramp entrance
The Ramp Entrance dates back to 1928, when it was introduced by band members Bill Knepper and Elvin Donaldson. The entire sequence survives today virtually unchanged and is one of the single most defining elements of The Ohio State University Marching Band.

Following their performance at Skull Session, the band forms outside St. John Arena and marches across Woody Hayes Drive in ranks of 12 to drum cadence. The band enters Ohio Stadium and assembles on the ramp which leads to the field.

The percussion section leader stands at the base of the ramp, setting the tempo of 180 beats per minute. At the appointed time, he screams to his section “Drums on the side!” The percussionists then take the field, chanting “O-H-I-O, OHIO, O-H-I-O, OHIO…” Band members take their spots on the ramp as the percussionists leave and the Stadium comes to life as the drums hit their mark. The drums roar to life as the first trumpets emerge, executing a precise arm swing and carrying their instruments at their side, maintaining perfect two step spacing.

The back bend
Once the ranks fill up, a whistle sounds and the entire band turns and the introduction to “Buckeye Battle Cry” is played.

The drum major struts through the middle of the band and comes to the front of the ranks to execute a back bend. As the major’s plume touches the grass, a cheer fills the stadium and the band breaks into two choruses of the fight song while storming toward the South Stands. The drum major reaches the end zone, performs a goal post toss and the band finishes the downfield march, executes an about-face maneuver and stands motionless awaiting the raising of the flag and the performance of the national anthem.

Script Ohio
The signature formation of the Ohio State Marching Band performed before, during halftime or after home games is Script Ohio.

Each time the formation drill is performed, a different fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player has the privilege of standing as the dot in the “i” of “Ohio.”

Athlon Sports’ 10 Greatest College Football Traditions
OHIO STATE’s Dotting of the “i”
Texas A&M’s Bonfire
Army-Navy Game
Notre Dame’s Victory March
Michigan’s Helmet
TexasOU Weekend
Notre Dame-USC
The Stanford-Cal Axe
The Wishbone
The Tournament of Roses

History of the “i”-dot
At its first performance, the Script Ohio’s “i” was dotted by a trumpet player, John Brungart (1933-36). The march from the top of the “o” to the top of the “i” was just another movement to complete a formation but over 60 years later, the honor of dotting the “i” is known throughout the world.

In the fall of 1937, Glen R. Johnson, a sousaphone player, was ordered to switch places with the trumpet player in the formation.

The familiar kick, turn and bow by the sousaphone player at the top of the “i” was an innovation introduced by Johnson at a game in 1938. “(The turn) was an impulse reaction when drum major Myron McKelvey arrived three or four measures too soon at the top of the “i”,” Johnson explained, “so I did a big kick, a turn and a deep bow to use up the music.” The crowd roared when this happened, and it became part of the show thereafter.

Who dots the “i”
To be eligible to dot the “i”, a sousaphone player must at least be a fourth-year member. Fifth-year members also are eligible to dot the “i”, but only after all fourth-year members have been chosen. At postseason performances (usually double scripts), fourth and fifth-year members compete for the open dots in what is called a “dot-off”, in which eligible members perform their routine for the entire sousaphone section. Members watch two rounds of competition and vote for the best two candidates.

Honorary “i”-dotters
Woody Hayes and Bob Hope are among the select few non-band members who have had the honor of dotting the “i.” This is considered the greatest honor the band can bestow to any non-band person and is an extremely special (and rare) event.

How to dot the “i”
At exactly 16 measures from the end of “Le Regiment,” the drum major struts out toward the top of the “i,” with the sousaphone player high-stepping a couple of paces behind. As the crowd’s cheering crescendos, the drum major stops and dramatically points to the spot, and the sousaphone player assumes the post of honor, doffs his hat and bows deeply to both sides of the stadium.

OSUMB directors

Gustav Bruder 1896-1928
Eugene J. Weigel 1929-1938
Manley R. Whitcomb 1939-43, 1946-51
William B. McBride 1943-45
Jack O. Evans 1952-1963
Charles L. Spohn 1964-69
Paul E. Droste 1970-83
Jon R. Woods 1984-present

Lyrics to Ohio State Fight Songs and Alma Mater

Buckeye Battle Cry
In old Ohio there’s a team
that’s known thru-out the land;
Eleven warriors, brave and bold,
whose fame will ever stand.
And when the ball goes over,
our cheers will reach the sky,
Ohio field will hear again
The Buckeye Battle Cry

Drive! Drive on down the field,
Men of the scarlet and gray;
Don’t let them thru that line,
We have to win this game today,
Come on, Ohio!
Smash through to victory.
We cheer you as you go:
Our honor defend
We will fight to the end for O-hi-o.

Across The Field
Fight the team across the field,
show them Ohio’s here
Set the earth reverberating
with a mighty cheer
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hit them hard and see
how they fall;
Never let that team get the ball,
Hail! Hail! the gang’s all here,
So let’s win that old conference now.
Carmen Ohio
Oh! Come let’s sing Ohio’s praise,
And songs to Alma Mater raise;
While our hearts rebounding thrill,
With joy which death alone can still.
Summer’s heat or Winter’s cold.
The seasons pass, the years will roll;
Time and change will surely show
How firm thy friendship O-hi-o.