Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm with the Band: Michigan

Band: Michigan Marching Band
University: University of Michigan
Founded: 1896
Current Director: Scott Boerma
Current Drum Major: Jeffrey McMahon
Fight Song: "The Victors"

Major university marching bands are serious business. I can virtually guarantee that on any given Saturday of football season, there is just as much talent on the field at halftime as there is during the game and with a small fraction of the budget. Marching band programs offer scholarships and are lead by professors with real doctorates and everything. These groups work hard and take enormous pride in their efforts, both musical and physical. While television usually ignores them, I can tell you as a graduate of a college that didn't have a marching band, a live football game is far less interesting without one.

In the world of college marching bands, the Michigan Marching Band is the Beatles: the standard by which everyone else is measured. In addition to being a football powerhouse, Ann Arbor has one of the finest music programs in the country. While I don't know if many or any of the marchers are also in the conservatory, musical standards at the university are very high indeed.

"The Victors" was composed by Louis Elbel in 1898. John Philip Sousa himself called it "the greatest college fight song ever written." I'm rather partial to a different one but we'll get to that another week. Gerald Ford, U.S. President and star footballer at Michigan, was a big fan of the song. He frequently requested it be played for him rather than "Hail to the Chief." He also requested it for his funeral procession.

All This and Football, Too!

My Picks for the Week: 13/20 (3rd place out of 3 players)

I started a college pick'em group on Yahoo! in order to follow the regular season more closely in preparation for our larger bowl pick'em group. Two other guys joined. I don't know either - friends of friends of friends. No problem. The setup: Yahoo!'s default games each week, no point spread, no confidence points, just a running tally over the course of the season. I only picked three upsets this week - UCLA, East Carolina and Rice - and they all lost. I would have done better just to pick all favorites. How disappointing!

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