Power Ranking the Top 25 College Marching Band Pregame Shows

John HindulakContributor IIIAugust 28, 2011

Power Ranking the Top 25 College Marching Band Pregame Shows

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    A College Football Game does not start at kick-off, it starts at sunrise on game day.

    Unlike other sports, the college football fan has more to cherish about their favorite team. The game-day experience is not only full of anticipation, but the pageantry surrounding it—the pep-rallies, the tailgating and the music. 

    When the Marching Band hits the field, it's game time. Some Marching Bands do it much better than others, while some of the best college marching bands in the country miss the mark completely.

    It took some time for me weave my way through all the videos out there, but I think I did a good job. Please feel free to comment on my results.


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    Here is the deal. I used only videos I could find on Youtube.

    The number of Pregame videos per school on Youtube made a big difference in my judging because if there were more videos available for any specific pregame, then there is more fan appreciation for it.

    It may sound like a lame way to scope fan appreciation, but when you look at Ohio State vs. Baylor in terms of pregame videos, Ohio State has over 200 more videos than Baylor does.  

    Sometimes I had to watch two or three from the same school to get a sense of the entire pregame. 

    If you think your favorite school is underestimated on this list, look up your favorite team on Youtube. If the videos aren't there then I didn't see it.

    I watched a ton of videos for this list. If I couldn't find it then it isn't there.

    If you want your school to be ranked higher then put some damn videos up. I can't search for them if they're not there.

"Game Time" and Lots of "Rah-Rah" Equals More Power

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    There is a big difference between "Show Time" and "Game Time."

    If it looked like "Game Time," I ranked that school higher.

    There were lots of very elaborate and visually impressive pregames out there, but if it looked more like a halftime show disguised as a pregame, I gave them a lower ranking. 

    Then there was what I call the "Rah-Rah" factor. That dealt more with how much fan interaction, types of music played and tradition involved with the pregame. Was the selection of music to the point and void of "fluff," and was the crowd singing, clapping and all together taking part in the pregame festivities?

    The more "Rah-Rah" the better.

No. 25 Texas Tech

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    Texas Tech literally offers a course in "Marching Band."

    The "Goin' Band From Raider Land" can, in any given year, have over 400 members. That's a big marching band!

    I was on the fence between Baylor or Texas Tech for a spot on this list, and the tie-breaker came down to how many more videos Tech had over Baylor on Youtube. More videos means for fan appreciation.

No. 24 Minnesota

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    It could be true that the "Pride of Minnesota" marching band is, more or less, holding a pregame show for themselves rather than for their team.

    I almost shrugged off this pregame as "Show Time" until the end when they formed the Minnesota "M" and what little crowd was in the stands began to cheer loud and chant. 

    While the Golden Gophers may be lacking "W's," they're still in the B1G and need to have a pregame to prove it.

    It's not like Minnesota football has done anything impressive within the past few years, or decades, but their marching band does offer you a decent game day atmosphere. 

No. 23 Georgia

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    What I really like about the "Georgia Redcoat Marching Band" pregame is the reading of the "Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation" and how the crowd becomes quiet (or as quiet as possible) to listen.

    It reminds me of a 1930's black and white movie where the coach gives an over-acted speech about how important it is to try.

No. 22 Texas

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    Here is a classic example of where a marching band says "It's showtime," rather than "It's game time."

    To be fair, the Texas Longhorn Marching Band does refer to themselves the "Show-band of the Southwest," though.

    It is Texas, so there is a lot of crowd participation. It is also packed full off Texas-ness.  

No. 21 Wisconsin

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    The Wisconsin Marching Band can be considered more like rock-stars than band geeks. 

    The band has been placed on probation multiple times and even had to sit out a game against Ohio State in 2008 because of allegations involving sex, booze and hazing.

    Yes, I'm talking about the Wisconsin Marching Band, not Stanford's.

    Wisconsin is also better known for producing more alcoholics than graduates.

No. 20 Florida State

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    It is said the the Florida State University "Marching Chiefs" have never lost a halftime. They're not that bad at a pregame either.

    Very basic in their delivery and the crowd participates. 

No. 19 Arkansas

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    The University of Arkansas "Razorback Marching Band"  is definitely a show-band. 

    I wish there was more added to the entrance because it was a very climatic moment.

    Plus I'm amazed how they created some form of crowd participation with the William Tell Overture.

No. 18 Michigan State

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    The Michigan State "Spartan Marching Band" may be better known for their march to the stadium, called the "Series," or for their drum line, but they can put on a good pregame too.

    There are only two marching bands in college football that get serenaded by the crowd with "Go State" as they enter the field. Michigan State is one of them.  

No. 17 West Virginia

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    When putting on a pregame, it's a good to have an important piece of American music significant to your location.

    The West Virginia University "Mountaineer Marching Band" has Copeland's "Simple Gifts of an Appalachian Spring" to play with.

    I've always said there are a million ways to describe someone from West Virginia, but they sure can put classical art on the field—in a "Game Time" fashion too. 

No. 16 Texas A&M

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    The "Fightin Texas Aggie Band" is really good, like really-really-really good, and let's face it, nobody can do what they do.

    I would like to rank them higher, but the pregame lacks some "Rah-Rah" factor. They have a "12th Man," so I'd figure out a way to use them more. 

    Of course the pregame is clean and polished from start to finish, but more crowd participation would make this pregame a grand slam.

No. 15 Iowa

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    The "Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band performs an amazing pregame packed-full of old school formations similar to those found in marching band film from the 1950's.

    With a few modern additions, this pregame is a total throw back.

    The crowd seems to love it too.  

No. 14 Southern California

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    The "Trojan Marching Band" puts on a real "Game Time" performance. I like the simplicity of their pregame, but not much for the crowd to participate with.

    That is actually okay, though, because it is USC football and it doesn't take a lot to get the crowd going.

    Plus, they're going to hear "Fight-on" played a million times during the game anyways, so why blow it during the pregame.  

No. 13 Nebraska

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    The University of Nebraska "Cornhusker Marching Band" offers lots of opportunities to clap-along, but not many to sing-along.

    Nevertheless, it is Nebraska and the band clearly thinks "Game-time," rather than "Show-time." 

No. 12 Notre Dame

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    The Band of the Fighting Irish gets to play the "Notre Dame Victory March."

    There is nothing more "Game Time" then that.

No. 11 Alabama

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    The University of Alabama "Million Dollar Band" is so good that they just walk onto the field with swagger.

No. 10 Florida

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    The "Pride of the Sunshine" doesn't march onto the field, they chomp their way on to it.

    Another great SEC pregame where crowd participation is a must.

    Once the band signals you to sing along, you're on your feet until the team takes the field. 

No. 9 California

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    The Cal Band's pregame is "Game Time" from start to finish.

    it feels like a pregame that beckons their former glory days, full of school songs and traditional formations.

    It's a stand-alone classic. 

No. 8 Auburn

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    In 2004 the Auburn University Marching Band decided they needed to put a little more pep in their pregame.

    And they delivered for sure.

    As with most pregames created post-9/11, there is a lot of "God Bless America" involved, but the band's entrance, crowd participation and overall energy level make this pregame very intense.

No. 7 Georgia Tech

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    The Georgia Tech "Yellowjacket Marching Band" is truly one of the best marching bands in the country.

    This is one of my favorite pregames because everything is geared towards school pride and the football game itself. No extra fluff. And if the team isn't ready to come out yet, they stand at attention and wait, rather than add unnecessary songs to pass the time.

No. 6 Louisiana State University

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    I wonder when, or how, LSU was able to coordinate 90,000 people to clap the way they do while the "Golden Band from Tiger Land" takes the field.

    I think this is a great example of where you don't have to do anything special to get the crowd going.

    How many times in this pregame does the band stray from the LSU formation?

No. 5 Tennessee

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    Apparently, Tennessee's pregame is unrivaled in college football.

    Why? Because the people from Tennessee say so.

    That is a good enough indicator to me that the Volunteer's think this pregame is special too. Just type Tennessee pregame into Youtube and see what you get. 

    One thing that sticks out to me when watching this pregame, even though it's much more "Show Time" rather than "Game Time,"  is that everyone in Neyland Stadium is on there feet, clapping and singing along.

    You'll also notice that the band doesn't stop moving, which actually creates some confusing images with the flag and baton girls marching through almost every formation, but it's all perfectly timed from band entrance to team entrance.     

No. 4 Penn State

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    The Penn State "Marching Blue Band" doesn't have to do much to get the crowd going in State College because, as many people have stated in the past, the Penn State faithful are nutz.

    The Blue Band rocks it's way into Beaver Stadium serenaded with a raucous chant of "Let's Go State," setting the tone for what opposing teams can expect.

    After the National Anthem and salute to the opposing school, the band then performs a series of songs and formations to usher in "Game Time." Crowd participation is off the charts. 

No. 3 Oklahoma

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    The Oklahoma marching band knows how to get the party started.

    You know it's going to be a good pregame when the fans cheer as loud for the "Pride of Oklahoma" marching band as they do for their football team.

    It also helps to have one of the most famous songs from Broadway—"Oklahoma"—available to use as a fight song.

No. 2 Ohio State

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    The Ohio State pregame is about as traditional as you can possibly get in college football.

    As far as Buckeye Nation is concerned, without the Ohio State marching band pregame, there will be no football game.

    Of all the pregames in college football, the Ohio State has by far the most basic show:  ramp entrance, one fight song down the field, the other team's fight song up the field, the "Script Ohio," the team entrance and the National Anthem. That's it. 

    I don't understand why Ohio State needs an announcer because Buckeye fans know this pregame step by step, Ohio State has been performing it the same way since the late 1950's.

No. 1 Michigan

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    Why is Michigan's Pregame #1?

    When putting together this list I was looking for "Game Time" and lots of "Rah-Rah" and Michigan can do it all with one formation and one song; and everyone in the stands goes nutz. 

    Emerging from a tunnel near the fifty yard line, the Michigan Marching Band hops onto the field, forms the letter "M," then marches from west to east blasting "Hail to the Victors" while all one hundred thousand plus in attendance sing along.

    It's the most powerful sight in all of college football.


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