In a 1930 game against Navy, the Ohio State marching band wowed the world with the very first “floating formation” – an anchor that moved downfield as musicians performed Anchors Aweigh.
Not only did fans in the stadium go nuts, but The New York Times even wrote about band’s innovative halftime show that day.
Today, not much has changed for The Ohio State University Marching and Athletic Bands. Videos of the band’s halftime shows have garnered millions of views on YouTube – often going viral before games end.
The following is our primer on the Pride of the Buckeyes.
The band came before football. The band’s beginnings date back to 1878 as a military drum and fife corps performing music for cadet drills on campus.
But Woody gave us TBDBITL. Ohio State football coach Woodrow Hayes was the first to dub the band as “The Best Damn Band in the Land.” Not only did the name stick, but the acronym also is common vernacular among Buckeye Nation.
Making an entrance at 180 beats per minute. During a typical season, the marching band’s elaborate entrance down the ramp on the north side of Ohio Stadium can induce chills. Percussion is the first to march onto the field at a rapid tempo of 180 bpm. The ensuing fast cadence is played exactly 17 times in a row. Listen closely, and you may hear the percussionists chanting “O-H-I-O, Ohio!” in time.
The uniform has not changed since 1930. It was designed to replicate an ROTC uniform and includes 26 pieces.
Look closely at the color. That fabric is not actually black – but dark navy. Uniforms are made of 100 percent wool.
The “i” was first dotted by a cornet player. It wasn’t until the game against Michigan in 1936 that a sousaphone player dotted the “i” – a tradition students have repeated more than 800 times since.
Why do they call it a Skull Session? Because band members do not carry music as they march, this event was intended to provide a final practice run-through of the show to help the musicians keep the week’s music in their skulls. Skull Sessions started in the 1930s and were closed to the public. They evolved into full-fledged pep rallies.
TBDBITL is known around the world. The band’s halftime performances have garnered more than 45 million views on YouTube – with their moonwalking and cannon-firing formations being applauded long after Saturdays in the ‘Shoe.
How did Sloopy become a Buckeye? John Tatgenhorst was a percussion student at Ohio State when he introduced an arrangement of a rock ‘n’ roll hit in 1965 into The Ohio State University Marching Band’s repertoire. Watch him recount how it happened.