Yes, We Have ‘The Most Exciting Band In The Land,’ But We’re Not Ohio State

By
Kelly Martin


Updated Thu, Sep 19, 2013 9:18 am

As I clicked on Rolling Stone’s link to the 10 Best College Marching Bands cover song performances that a former co-worker posted on Facebook, I just knew I’d find Ohio University’s Marching 110 listed.

Unfortunately, what I found listed was Ohio ‘State’ University’s Marching 110.

Sigh..

After the Marching 110 performed the Norwegian parody ‘The Fox’ by Ylvis at halftime during the Saturday, Sept. 14 game against Marshall, the video went viral around the world. It made headlines in Norwegian papers and major news outlets. This isn’t the first time Ohio U has gotten attention for a performance. The Party Rock Anthem and Gangnam Style performances had millions of hits on YouTube and made headlines around the world in the last few years.

While the attention is nice, there’s only one problem: a decent number of the media reports always say the Marching 110 is from ‘The’ Ohio State University.

These are national publications - real news sources with top-notch editors. Many of these mistakes have the correct name in the body of the story, but the headline includes the word ‘state.’  

As I scrolled down to the comment section to unleash my fury I noticed that the comment section was filled with other Bobcat alumni that had already let them have it - and they were ticked.

There were comments such as ‘How can you confuse beautiful Ohio University with that Ag school in Columbus? FIX IT NOW!’ and ‘Rolling Stone, get it together. The Marching 110 is the proud, "ridiculously awesome" marching band of Ohio University. Fix it, y'all. Fix it now’ and one of my favorites ‘Woah, woah, woah. Why does everyone make this mistake? That’s the original OHIO Marching 110. OU, oh yeah.’

Update: Rolling Stone has fixed the mistake. Ohio University is now correctly identified.

Many reading this comment section may have thought it was an overreaction by some crazy Bobcat fans – but proud alumni of Ohio University completely understand the fury - they’re tired of not getting the recognition they deserve. 

Let me explain why.

Ohio University was established in 1804. It was the first institution of higher learning in the Northwest Territory. So, we’ve been here a long time and we’re proud of it.

But most importantly, we take our band seriously. Oh, everyone loves his or her college’s marching band. They think they’re great and are fun to listen to at the parade and ballgame, but the admiration of the Marching 110 is different. You see they aren’t your normal marching band.

For years I attended football games for the sole purpose of seeing the band perform. Even though Ohio’s football team is quite impressive these days and has had several great winning seasons in recent years - in the not-so-distant past, they weren’t impressive at all. Quite frankly, they were terrible.

But even in the bad football years, the one bright spot during the game was when the halftime show began. At any normal football game, as soon as the team leaves the field the crowd scatters, but not at Ohio University. The only reason someone moves from their seat is to get a better view of the band. The popcorn, soda and bathroom break will wait until the band’s performance is complete. 

And they dazzle us. There’s no John Philip Sousa music going on here – the music is usually top hits, maybe a Michael Jackson tribute or one of the latest hit songs. It’s always unique - and always entertaining.

In 1966, Gene Thrailkill became director of the OU band and decided to make some big changes. He wanted a high-energy band complete with new uniforms and only men. Yes, he kicked women out of the band during a particularly strong point during the feminist movement. Man, that was a gutsy move.

Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly a popular decision – but he held strong and unleashed ‘the most exciting band in the land’ – complete with a high marching step and dance moves. Women didn’t stay out of the band for long and in the WOUB documentary "Ohio University Marching 110 – Better Than The Best Ever," Thrailkill admits he most likely wouldn’t make the same decision today.

The dance moves were, and still are what sets the Marching 110 apart from others. Thrailkill says the dance moves became a part of the routine because of a drum major that couldn’t stand still. He allowed him to choreograph the dance moves and many of those routines remain part of the tradition today.

Generations of alumni fell in love with the Marching 110 - their cadence and drum section, the high marching steps that are so unique and the great dance moves that often make you wonder how someone could do it all while playing a trombone or tuba.

After looking at Rolling Stone’s list, I see several bands that are trying to abandon the traditional music for something a little more hip and some are even including dance moves. But they are missing one thing – the Marching 110’s heart and soul.

You see the passion that the Marching 110 has is special - it’s not just their funky dance moves that keep fans in their seats at halftime, it’s that you can tell they love what they do and are having the time of their lives. They are a part of a tradition; one that they each recognize is special. By watching the videos in Rolling Stone's top 10 list, you’ll see what I mean.

We recognize that Ohio State University has a lot of notoriety –and we’re ok with it. They are one of the most winning football programs of all time. But the marching band - not so well known.

So, even though many will never make it to Athens, Ohio, to see one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, we ask one thing – to remember we may never be known as one of the best football teams in the country, but we are Ohio University and the fabulous, ‘ridiculously awesome’ Marching 110 is ours.  

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