Ohio State University Marching Band

The Ohio State University Marching Band (OSUMB) performs at Ohio State football games and other events during the fall semester. It is one of the few collegiate all-brass and percussion bands in the country, perhaps the largest of its type in the world.[1] Its nickname is The Best Damn Band in the Land (TBDBITL).[2]

The Ohio State University Marching Band
SchoolThe Ohio State University
LocationColumbus, Ohio
ConferenceBig Ten
DirectorChristopher Hoch
Members228 (192 pregame marchers, 195 halftime marchers, 36 alternate members)
Fight song"Across the Field", "Buckeye Battle Cry"


Military training was an important part of the early curriculum at Ohio State, and a band was formed to provide music to the cadets for drills. The Marching Band originated in 1878 as a fife and drum corps and was sponsored by the university's Military Department. In 1881, a stolen mouthpiece incident, which prevented the Marching Band from performing, led the Military Department to end support.

The band was a student-led organization until 1896 when Gustav Bruder, a professional musician with military band experience, was hired to lead the band. Under Bruder, the band's size grew. It began playing and marching for all military and athletic events. In 1926, it performed jointly with the Ohio State University Drum and Bugle Corps at West Point. The timing between the groups on the field was off because of errant counting, causing the groups to counter march through each other's ranks. This spectacle was considered one of the most intense band formations done on the field at West Point. In 1929, the Military Department, along with the School of Music, entered into a new agreement to bring the Marching Band under control of the School of Music, which would provide faculty, while the Military Department limited membership to cadets, who also received military instruction along with playing and marching. The band was so popular in 1929 that the entire 100-piece block band was composed of upperclassmen. This situation gave Director Eugene J. Weigel the idea to create two additional bands, the Infantry Regimental Band and the Artillery Regimental Band, which would provide training to underclassmen until they were able to try out for the Marching Band. These bands met in the Winter and Spring, and together with the Activities Band formed in 1947, created the modern Athletic Band.

During World War II, Ohio State was one of the few colleges able to field a marching band for every home game. The band was able to field 100 to 120 musicians throughout the war. Because the band was still under ROTC control, women were not allowed to perform. The band was open to alumni members of the band, woodwind players, vocalists, high school students, even strangers on the street who expressed interest. The morale with which this highly volunteer band helped to cheer on Ohio State football was during a time when spirits on the home front were at a low. By the early 1950s, the Department of Defense issued much more stringent rules about what courses and activities constitute eligible curriculum for the ROTC program. The Marching Band was no longer an eligible activity, and in 1952, the Marching Band officially ended ties with the ROTC department. Cadets in the band could continue to try out and participate in band, but they would no longer receive ROTC credit. Once the Marching Band separated from ROTC control, the band was more free to experiment with show themes and music genres, culminating in the band's 1965 performance of "Hang On, Sloopy!". After the extremely positive response for "Sloopy", the band decided to venture into more modern and topical styles of music.

The band maintained a 120-piece block into the 1970s, when director Paul Droste expanded the band first to 160, and then to 192 members by adding another row of Sousaphones, creating a full row of snare drums, and adding tenor duo-toms to the row of bass drums and cymbals. Women were admitted into the band starting in 1973, after the passage of the 1972 Title IX legislation. Today, approximately 20–25% of the band's members are women each year. By the mid-1970s, a limitation on the maximum number of years one could be in the Marching Band was imposed. Prior to this, there were people who had spent nearly a decade playing and marching with the band. Some of these band members were gainfully employed graduates of the university, who would continue to pay fees to try out for band. A decision was reached to limit the band to 5 years, 6 under extenuating circumstances and director approval. This allowed for more new students to try out and make the band, and also allowed for a better spirit of competition for the 225 total spots in the band.

In 2016, under the direction of Dr. Christopher Hoch and percussion instructor Mark Reynolds, a decision was made to expand the band for the first time in over 40 years. Three additional band members were added; one each on bass drum, cymbals, and tenor drums. The driving decision to allow this expansion is to bring the band's percussion section closer in number and substance to other comparable college marching bands by having a full tonal bass drum section. Until 2015, the band used four tonal bass drums for halftime, which presents a challenge to percussion writers, as the standard instrumentation of a bass drum line is five drums. The addition of the fifth bass drum allows for a broader color of percussion parts to be written. The traditional Ramp entrance block band will still maintain four bass drums tuned to two pitches, high and low, for effect.

Many marching band innovations were first tried and developed at Ohio State. Among them are: floating and animated formations, measured step marching, script writing, and the fast cadence with a high knee lift. Brass instruments especially designed for marching bands were also first used at Ohio State.[3] In 1934, the OSUMB became one of the first collegiate bands to adopt an all brass-and-percussion instrumentation.

The school fight songs—"Buckeye Battle Cry" and "Fight the Team Across the Field"—were first performed in the early 20th century. Other traditional songs performed by the band are the 1960s pop hit "Hang on Sloopy" and “We Don’t Give A Damn (for the Whole State of Michigan)” (aimed at its archrival, the University of Michigan), which was popularized by James Thurber in the Broadway production of The Male Animal.[4] Other songs that are played commonly in the stands include: "Night On Bald Mountain", "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", "Bully", "Talkin' Out the Side of Your Neck", "Seven Nation Army", and a recently student-written and composed piece with a hip-hop feel called "Buckeye Swag."

2014 hazing scandal

The band made national headlines in the summer of 2014 following the release of an internal investigation into the band's culture and reported incidents of hazing. On July 22, 2014, Ohio State University released an investigation report titled "Complaint against Jonathan Waters, Director of the OSU Marching Band." In the report, the university's Office of Compliance and Integrity found that the band's "culture facilitated acts of sexual harassment" and that then-director Jon Waters knew or reasonably should have known about this culture."[5]

On July 24, 2014, following a two-month investigation into complaints of a "sexualized" culture amongst band members, Jon Waters was fired by the University.[6] Waters later denied the report's characterizations of the band and of his actions.[7]

A second investigation was led by former Ohio Attorney General, Betty Montgomery. The Task Force Report, released on November 18, 2014, identified a number of issues within the band, making 37 recommendations for changes, but also criticized Ohio State University for decades of lax oversight and inadequate resources for enforcing compliance.[8] The task force final report include results of a survey of 278 then current and recent former band members; see Appendix D.[9] The survey seemed to contradict many of the university's claims about Mr. Waters and the band.

Performances and academics

A typical season with the OSUMB runs from June until January. Starting in June, the band runs Summer Sessions to train and teach prospective and returning band members. In July, the band performs a joint concert with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. This event is typically performed with 1/2 to 3/4 of the full band. In August, the schedule becomes highly packed. There are often small pep band events throughout Columbus, at OSU's Regional Campuses across the state, as well as on the Columbus campus. The band performs at all home football games, at an NFL game (either the Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns), and at least one or two away games. In 2013, the band performed at four away games, a first for the band. If the football team is eligible for post-season play, the band will travel to those games as well. On away trips, there is almost always an Ohio State rally, put on by the local chapter of the OSU Alumni Association. This rally features guest speakers, the band, and cheerleaders. For trips to the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, the band performs a sit-down concert in the Toledo, Ohio area. There are additional full-band performances such as the Homecoming Parade, Circleville Pumpkin Show Parade, and two big concerts: one in an often remote part of Ohio, and the annual concert in Columbus at Value City Arena (previously held at Veterans Memorial before its demolition during the 2014 season).

The band holds tryouts usually two weeks before school starts. This is somewhat variable as the band staff tries to allow for members to perform in Drum Corps International World Championships in Indianapolis. In recent years, DCI Finals night was held on a Saturday night, while OSUMB Candidate Days (for all prospective band members who have not made the band before) would begin the following Sunday morning. Due to a tighter schedule in 2016, Candidate Days were held during DCI Finals, and full band tryouts began the following morning. Typically this is avoided however, to allow incoming freshmen to finish a drum corps tour and then learn the OSU style in the two days prior to full band tryouts. Once the band is picked and until school starts up, the band practices three times a day Monday through Friday. Once classes start, the band rehearses on Monday-Friday afternoons. Many shows must be learned in as little as four days, with all music and drill committed to memory.

Because the band utilizes a system of regular members and alternate members, challenges are done before every performance where an alternate member may challenge a regular member in their row for that member's spot the next week. Challenges consist of a "mini" tryout session where members are put "on the line" against one another and asked to perform various drills from memory, as well as playing and marching the tryout drill, performing Hang on Sloopy, and a down-the-field ramp. Squad leaders for each row determine if the alternate member wins the spot, or if the regular member retains their spot. If the alternate member wins the challenge, the regular member is made an alternate and must challenge before the next performance to get their spot back, or they may challenge a different regular member in the row. This system ensures that the best 192 marchers are on the field each week. The alternate typically spends their week "shadowing" a squad leader so that in the case of an emergency, they can be substituted in. Alternates are still required to have all the music memorized each week.

Each Friday before a performance, the band has "Grey Day" where all members are required to wear the same practice outfits and their uniform hats to simulate the gameday performance. Before "full rehearsal" begins, all members participate in music checks, to show that they have memorized all music for the week. Squad leaders are first checked by the directors, then squad leaders are responsible for checking their rows while the music for the week is performed. If a squad leader believes a member in the row does not have their music memorized, they can "fail" the member and the member may appeal to a director. If the member fails their appeal to the director, they are automatically made an alternate the following week and must challenge to get their spot back the next week. If a member fails three music checks during the course of a season, they are removed from the band upon failure of their third music check.



The band consists of 228 musicians. The pregame block seen at every home game consists of 192 members, while halftime shows consist of 195 members. The other 36 members are alternates. These are members of the band who challenge the regular members every week for a spot in the gameday block. The alternates also understudy the week’s halftime show with the squad leader in case someone gets sick or injured before the performance. Alternates have a chance to perform with the regular band members during performances of Double Script Ohio, as well as during pre-game shows on away game trips. All music is memorized and verified during music checks each Friday. On game day, the alternates help move equipment or are led by the assistant drum major and stand at attention (minus instruments) on the sideline. The band block consists of lettered rows A, B, C, E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, Q, R, S, T, X and D. D-Row consists of one Head Drum Major, one Assistant Drum Major, and "Drum Major Training Squad" members who train and study under the current drum majors, who will then try out in the spring of that year for the Head and Assistant positions along with any returning incumbents.

While the brass-only configuration has been unvarying since 1934, the instrumentation has been subject to experimentation over the years. Around 1938, slide trombones were removed from the band for fear they could not easily navigate the difficult Script Ohio drill. Trombones were originally replaced by tenor horns, and then eventually by valve trombones that were wrapped as a euphonium, earning them the nickname "Trombonium." Slide trombones returned to the band in 1980. Tromboniums last marched in the varsity OSUMB block at the 1982 Alumni Reunion game, but continue to be used by the alumni band.

In 1997, the band converted the alto voice of the band from Eb alto horns to F mellophones. Several factors including instrument quality and durability, as well as tone projection, were cited in the switch.

In 1999, Dr. Jon Woods, a trombone player himself, added bass trombones to the trombone section. This was done in an effort to round out the trombone choir, and to give a bit of an edge to sousaphone parts in climactic music.

In 2008, the band received a generous donation which allowed the entire high brass section (Eb Cornets, Trumpets, and Flugelhorns) to be outfitted with new Yamaha Xeno model instruments.

The percussion section of the band currently uses Mapex drums, having switched from Pearl in 2018. In 2014, a decision was made to experiment with metal drum carriers. These had been used for a number of years by tenor drum players; however, the bass drums and snares continued to use cloth sling harnesses. Through a large amount of experimentation, metal carriers made their debut midway through the 2014 season for halftime and parade use only. The snares and basses are still carried by traditional slings for pregame due to the visuals done with the drums in execution of the Ramp Entrance and Script Ohio.


Squad leaders

Each row of the band has one Squad Leader and one Assistant Squad Leader, with exception of J row, which has two Assistants. The role of the Squad Leaders is to make sure their respective rows are at rehearsal on time, take attendance for the row, and make sure all members in the row are striving for their best during each rehearsal and performance. Squad Leaders also run Friday music checks and game day uniform and instrument inspections, and act as judges for the row challenges on Mondays. The Squad Leaders must also try out for the band, typically during the week before the rest of the band does their tryouts. Squad Leaders have been cut from the band in past years. In this case, the Assistant would become Head Squad Leader, and one of the highest scoring returning band members would be offered the position of Assistant.

Drum Major

Since the early days of the band, a Drum Major has been the head student leader, serving as the point of contact between other student leaders and the directing staff. Other roles of the Drum Major include complimenting the band visually by twirling their baton.

Today, being drum major for the OSUMB is one of the hardest collegiate drum major positions to achieve in the country. It is one of the most physically and mentally challenging, and requires the utmost in flexibility, concentration, and on-the-fly thinking and creativity. Typically, there is only one Drum Major and one Assistant Drum Major for the season. The Assistant Drum Major will often wear a different uniform, representative of the uniform that the Drum Major of the OSU Military Band wore. The Military Band was a marching band run separately from the OSUMB that allowed woodwind instruments, and played at mainly ROTC parades and other campus events when the Marching Band was unable to perform or during the off-season of the Marching Band.

In 2013, the Drum Major was unable to perform for the first four games of the season. This necessitated the Assistant Drum Major to assume the role of Drum Major. One of the highest-scoring (at tryouts) D-row trainees assumed the role of Assistant Drum Major. Once the Drum Major was able to return to the field, a historic first for the OSUMB occurred. At the 2013 OSU vs. Wisconsin game, the band introduced three drum majors for the first time. The band finished the season with two Drum Majors and one Assistant; in 2014, the band went back to one Drum Major and one Assistant.

Student staff

As well as the 228 marching and playing members of the band, there are 14 additional student staff members who do not march. The student staff are responsible for the day to day happenings on the student level of the band. There are two Heads of Staff who are in charge of separate areas. The Head Secretary oversees the secretary’s office, and the Head Manager oversees the Staff Managers. The 14-member Student Staff breaks down as follows:

  • Head Manager oversees the two uniform managers, one seamstress, two instrument managers, and two A/V technicians and Record Fund.
  • Head Secretary, two assistant secretaries and one librarian/secretary

All staff members wear the OSUMB uniform and work throughout the entire school year in the band offices. Members of Student Staff, along with the Drum Major Trainees, hold the directors' ladders on the field, stand at intervals along the sidelines to observe for and collect instrument or uniform parts that may fall off during a show, and even dress in costume or work props for the field show. If there are holes in the band due to illness or injury, and the full 228-piece band is required for a performance, Student Staff will march with an instrument. These staff members typically get a "crash course" in the specifics of that instrument's carry and positioning, but are not expected to play the instrument or memorize the music, although memorizing charted positions is often necessary. Many members of Student Staff are musicians themselves, however some do not have brass or percussion backgrounds.

Directing staff

A band the size of the OSUMB requires a large directing staff. All directors are versed in conducting all of the school songs and show music, and attend various pep band and spirit rally events with the band. The Director is typically busiest with the administrative side of the band, leaving most smaller performances that do not require the whole band to the other directing staff. These directors make up the uniformed directing staff. In addition, other professors from the OSU School of Music regularly conduct the band during performances. These include the Director of the School of Music, and the Director and Associate Director of Bands.

All of the Marching and Athletic Band leadership report directly to, and are under the guidance of, the Ohio State University Director of Bands.

Arranging staff

Because of the unique instrumentation of the OSUMB, all music for performances must be custom-arranged. The band typically plays a wide variety of music throughout the season, and employs the expertise of a number of local and well-known arrangers. The first arranger of the OSUMB, Richard Heine, is considered to be most responsible for the unique sound of the band. All staff arrangers since Heine have kept true to the same style of arranging, while broadening the repertoire of the band. John Tatgenhorst became a staff arranger after his wildly successful arrangement of "Hang On, Sloopy!" in the mid-1960s. Other arrangers include world-renowned concert band composer James Swearingen, Dr. Ted McDaniel, Ken McCoy, Steve Pfaffman, Lisa Galvin, and John Brennan.

Adjunct staff

To keep the band running smoothly, there is a host of other staff members who wear blazer uniforms and work behind the scenes for the band. Some of these members include audio engineering staff, announcers, visiting band liaisons, physical trainers, and Drum Major coaches.


Script Ohio

Script Ohio, the signature formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band, is performed before home games. Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State University Marching Band on October 24, 1936, at the Ohio State vs. Indiana University football game. According to The Ohio State University Library, a similar floating formation was first performed during the 1932 season by the University of Michigan Marching Band.[10][11]

Script Ohio is the most identifiable trademark associated with Ohio State football and The Ohio State University Marching Band. It was devised by band director Eugene J. Weigel, who supposedly based the looped "Ohio" script design on the marquee sign of the Loew's Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus.[12]

The script is an integrated series of evolutions and formations. The band first forms a triple Block O formation, then slowly unwinds to form the letters while playing Robert Planquette's "Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse". The drum major leads the outside O into a peel-off movement around the curves of the script, every musician in continual motion. Slowly the three blocks unfold into a long singular line which loops around, creating the OSUMB's trademark. Unlike a typical follow-the-leader drill, the Script Ohio is a very specifically measured and charted maneuver. Each band member is required to memorize the counts for each portion of the formation. Squad Leaders, as part of their tryout drills, are required to march a Script Ohio, individually, from their spot in the block to their final charted position to ensure they are counting and not just following the person in front of them. This is also required in the event that the drum major is incapacitated for some reason (injury, sudden illness).

Each time the formation drill is performed, a different fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player is chosen to stand as the dot in the "i" of "Ohio." Because the Script Ohio formation was one of many new formations introduced by Weigel, no extra emphasis was placed on the dotting. Originally, an E-flat cornet player, John Brungart, was the first "i"-dotter. Brungart dotted the "i" two more times that season, in performances during halftime shows against Pittsburgh and Chicago. The first recorded instance of a sousaphone player dotting the “i” was the final game of the 1936 season on November 21 at home versus Michigan. In the fall of 1937, Weigel turned to Glen Johnson, a sousaphone player, and shouted, "Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player in the dot." A year later, when the drum major arrived at the top of the "i" three or four measures too early, Johnson turned and bowed to the crowd to use up the rest of the music. The bow has been part of the show since then.[13] Glen then became the second sousaphone player to dot the "i" on October 23, 1937. Since then, a sousaphone player has dotted the "i" over 800 times.[14]

Today, toward the end of the formation, drum major and the "i"-dotter high-five each other. Then with 16 measures left in the song, they strut to the top of the "i". When they arrive, the drum major points to the spot, and the "i"-dotter turns and bows deeply to both sides of the stadium.[15]

There are two commonly seen versions of the Script Ohio drill: Single Script, and Double Script. Single Script is performed with the 192-member block band and is the most commonly photographed. Double Script is performed with 224 of the full 228-member band. Double Script is usually performed at away games, NFL games, or at home games when there are a large number of i-dot eligible Sousaphone players. During Alumni Band Day, four Script Ohios are performed (a Quad Script), with typically two done by the Alumni Band and two done by the current band (though in some years when there is high alumni attendance, the Alumni Band will perform three Script Ohios and the current band will perform one).

At the 2013 Ohio State - Florida A&M game, the OSUMB performed a single Script Ohio, sharing the field with the Ohio State School for the Blind Band, which performed a Script Braille Ohio. The Ohio State School for the Blind hosts the only visually impaired marching band in the world. Some students are low-vision, and can march unassisted, but many have almost no visual acuity, and require the help of marching assistants, who guide the musicians on the field. Some students can read very large print music, others can read Braille music, while some simply learn by ear, memorizing parts played to them.[16][17]

Honorary "i"-dotters

Woody Hayes, Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, James "Buster" Douglas, OSU Presidents Novice Fawcett, Gordon Gee and their wives, the late composer Richard Heine, Ann Droste, wife of retired director and former OSUMB member Paul Droste, retired OSU ticket director Robert Ries, John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn, The Limited Brands founder, chairman, and CEO Leslie Wexner (an OSU alumnus), and former football coach Earle Bruce are 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 member and is a very special (and rare) event. The fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player selected to dot the "i" for that specific game must give up their spot in order for an honorary member to dot the "i".

On November 19, 2011, Jon Woods, the marching band's director for the previous 28 years, dotted the "i" in his final home game directing the band, becoming the only non-band member to dot the "i" during a game where the OSUMB performed Script Ohio twice. The first Script Ohio of that game in its traditional pregame spot featured senior sousaphone player Jonathan Lampley dotting the "i". Woods dotted the "i" in a special second performance of Script Ohio during halftime.[18]

Although not the famous Script Ohio formation, John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn returned to Ohio Stadium on September 22, 2012, to dot the "i" in the word America during a NASA-themed halftime show paying tribute to Glenn's NASA accomplishments and time as an Ohio senator.

Diamond Ohio

The Diamond Ohio logo, which is created by superimposing the I over the center of the H, and making the O's into pointed triangles, was first created by the OSUMB in the late 1930s. The band continues to use this formation today at every home football game as the team entrance tunnel. The Ohio University Marching 110 has also used the Diamond Ohio logo since 1966 when director Gene Thrailkill designed a pregame set modeled after the Ohio State University Marching Band to give the newly reformed Marching 110 a symbol.[19] Photographs show former OSUMB director Manley Whitcomb (1939-1942, 1946-1951) charting this formation on a table lined with field markings, and other photographs depict the band in performance of the Diamond Ohio as far back as 1939.

Skull Session

The first Skull Session held at St. John Arena was in 1957. Prior to this, Skull Session was nothing more than a final run through of the music on the morning of the game. Originally, these were closed rehearsals that the band eventually opened up to friends and family members. Each week, more and more people showed up to hear the band rehearse that the director, Jack Evans, decided to move the rehearsal to St. John Arena across the street. Today, upwards of 14,000 people pack St. John Arena every home game to see the band and football team. Many of these people do not even have tickets to the game, yet travel hours just for a chance to see and hear the band.

During the Skull Session, fans are treated to a variety of activities. Each week the band's "cheer groups" perform a song to go along with the football team's opponent of the week. The cheer groups are selected from their respective sections: Trumpet Cheers (the oldest Cheer Group), Flugelhorn Cheers, Trombone Cheers, Horn Cheers, Baritone Cheers, Stadium Brass (an instrument from every part of the band except percussion), Percussion Cheers (often playing Wipeout) and the Tuba-Fours. At some point after these performances, the football team enters to the sounds of James Swearingen's "Fanfare for a New Era". Immediately after their entrance a pre-selected senior football player speaks to the band and fans in St. John Arena followed by the head coach. The team then exits to the sounds of "Hang On, Sloopy!" Upon the football team's exit, the band commences with the traditions associated with the Skull Session. This includes performance of “(Fight the Team) Across the Field” first softly and slowly, and on the repeat of the chorus, at the well-known tempo and dynamics. The band is also known for performing “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” otherwise known as “The Navy Hymn,” to formally begin every Skull Session concert. If a visiting band is in attendance they will perform their pre-game and halftime show, followed by the OSUMB's performance of pre-game and halftime. At every Skull Session, there is a guest Ohio high school marching band. The high school band plays various songs before Skull Session to entertain the audience awaiting the arrival of the OSUMB. During Homecoming, the OSU Athletic Band also performs at Skull Session, trading off with the guest high school band on various pieces of music. The OSU Athletic Band is run by the same band staff as the marching band, and often has many students who perform in both.

Ramp entrance

The ramp entrance is one of the most highly regarded traditions among band members, and is infamous for being very physically demanding. The ramp entrance starts with around 19:45 remaining on the countdown clock. A short video is shown on the scoreboard prior to the band emerging from the ramp tunnel. At the end of this video, Diamond Ohio appears on the screen. This is the cue for the percussion section to start down the ramp.

The percussion section is the first to march down the ramp, and onto the field; not to cadences, rather, silently, at a precise tempo of 180 beats per minute (bpm), and the snare drums perform a unique arm swing. A series of elaborately timed flanking maneuvers called the “power V” leads JI Row into their file in the block.

The "Ramp" cadence is then played exactly 17 times in a row, also at 180 bpm, as the other rows in the band file down the ramp, onto the field, and into their positions. Once a row is placed, the members mark time until all rows are into position.

As the final two rows, T and X file in, their squad leaders nod to the two sousaphone (KL Row) squad leaders, who then sound a loud blast on their whistles. The entire band responds to this call with a deafening yell of "Whistle!" After the last Ramp cadence, a roll-off is played, while the entire band (except JI Row) performs a conversion step maneuver, and a horns-up.

The band proceeds to play the intro of "Buckeye Battle Cry" while marking time. This is followed by the verse, while the band goes into what is referred to as a "half-time step" (mark time); one step per every two beats. During the verse, a member's leg lift (completion of a full chair step) is crucial for a clean and precise look. Also, during the verse, KL Row performs a special horn flash in which they tilt their bells slightly back, and swing their entire upper body, including their horn, to the tempo of their step. The KL row horn flash is based on the horn swing that OSUMB Sousaphones did while marching until the 1970s.

After the completion of the verse, the band proceeds to march southward down the field to two choruses of Buckeye Battle Cry. The band then executes a "halt, kick, down", followed by a "step-forward about-face". At this point, the Drum Major runs back through the band, blowing a short whistle to the lead snare drummer, who initiates a roll-off to begin the rest of the pregame show, which includes playing the visiting team's fight song, Script Ohio, Carmen Ohio, and The Star-Spangled Banner, which is typically conducted by the visiting band's director, or a staff member of the OSU School of Music.

Back bend

During the introduction and verse of "Buckeye Battle Cry", the drum major enters the stadium running down the ramp, then struts through the band and comes to the front of the ranks where they execute a back bend, forming their body into the shape of an O. After a dramatic pause, the drum major’s plume - or on special occasions, such as before the annual rivalry game against Michigan, the entire top of the drum major's hat - touches the turf, just before the band begins to play two choruses of “Buckeye Battle Cry” while marching toward the south end zone. The drum major reaches the end zone and tosses the baton over the goal post as the band finishes the downfield march.

Neutron Man

Orlas King (1942-2004), also known as the Neutron Man, would burst into original dances whenever the band played the Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance."


Year Title Notes
1996 My Fellow Americans In the movie, Senator Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon), a Republican from Ohio, wins the election for President of the United States. A pep band, made of mostly squad leaders, was asked to perform for the celebration scenes. The band can be seen for several seconds during the opening credits.
2006 The Pride of the Buckeyes A documentary produced by WOSU Public Media which follows the Marching Band through the 2005 season. The program starts with scenes from Summer Sessions and Tryouts, and continues through the season, culminating with scenes from the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, and 2006 Drum Major tryouts.
2006 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Midwest Midterm Midtacular Jon Stewart recorded a special episode of The Daily Show on the Ohio State campus, featuring a student-focused theater audience for the episode. The marching band recorded an arrangement of the show's theme song and performed a drill set of the show's logo. The music and drill were featured as the closing credits of this episode.


The Ohio State University Marching Band has been honored with The Sudler Trophy for outstanding college band, and in 1988 was featured in a multi-page article in USA Today.

The band has also performed in seven Inaugural Parades. The band represented the State of Ohio during the inaugurations of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon (1969 and 1973), George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush (2001 and 2005), and Barack Obama (2009).[20]

In 2006, the Marching Band was featured during a taping of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Stewart brought his program to Columbus to spotlight Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial race. The band performed an arrangement of the show's theme music, and was featured during the closing segment known as the "Moment of Zen."[21]

During the October 6, 2012 football game between the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Ohio State, the Band performed a tribute to video games, containing music from games such as Pokémon, Super Mario Bros., Halo, Tetris, Pac-Man and The Legend of Zelda. During the performance, the band executed formations based on these video games, including a falling set of Tetris blocks, and an animated galloping figure of the horse Epona. A fan's recording of the performance posted to YouTube the next day soon became a viral video, spread in part through video game fans that were directed to the video.[22][23][24] The band's interim director at the time, Jon Waters, had planned for the performance based on the national broadcast of the night game, and that the video game theme would resonate with the college students that had grown up with the games.[22] With the widespread attention to the performance, the school promoted Waters from interim to permanent band director.[25]

The show for the September 7, 2013 game against San Diego State University, put together on four days' notice, featured music from television game shows The Price Is Right, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune, as well as jabs at the University of Michigan.[26] The September 28, 2013 game against the University of Wisconsin featured a Country and Western themed show which received numerous accolades for a formation of a singing cowboy removing his hat, as well as a steam locomotive racing across the field. For the Homecoming game on October 19 against the University of Iowa, the band performed a tribute to Michael Jackson, featuring the OSU Gospel Voices choir for "Man in the Mirror." During the show, band members performed individual moonwalks, and also created an image of Michael Jackson performing a Moonwalk across the field, complete with sequined glove. This tribute has been seen on YouTube by well over 8 million people, and was featured on many television programs and newspapers. The performance even attracted the attention of Katherine Jackson, Michael's mother. She was quoted as being very thankful and gracious for the band's performance of Michael's music.[27]

However, the accolades did not stop there. With four days of preparation, the band performed a movie-themed halftime show at the October 26 game against Pennsylvania State University. This performance featured music from Superman, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Formations performed included an image of Superman righting and steadying a collapsing building, and Harry Potter on a broomstick chasing a Snitch during a game of Quidditch.

The 2014 marching band season was difficult for band members and staff alike, with an interim directing staff and the national spotlight being turned on the program in a negative light due to the release of a report by the University claiming a "sexualized" culture. Many people in the media questioned whether the 2014 band would be able to continue to impress audiences without the leadership of Jon Waters. The band took to the field in Baltimore for the season opener against the United States Naval Academy. This condensed show featured much more traditional military-band style symmetrical drill that emphasizes precision. The band also created an image of soldiers marching with a Civil War regimental flag. The band also played the Navy service song and formed a floating anchor, a formation first performed by the OSUMB in 1934, also at a game versus the Naval Academy in Baltimore. This show ended with a double Script Ohio. The show was well received by fans from both schools and was featured in national headlines for being the first performance of the band since the termination of their director.

For the first home game of 2014, the band performed a tribute to classic television shows titled "TV Land, Too!", with music from Dragnet, The Simpsons, The Addams Family, M*A*S*H, I Dream of Jeannie, The Office, Game of Thrones, Hawaii Five-O, The Brady Bunch, and The Lone Ranger. Drill selections included Bart Simpson on a skateboard, Thing waving to the audience, a helicopter blowing up a Michigan Block M, a costumed Jeannie appearing from her magic bottle, costumed Brady Bunch characters in their trademark squares, a fire-breathing dragon, and the Lone Ranger's horse Silver galloping across the field. The show instantly went viral, drawing praise from TV Land and actor Tom Hanks.

The second home game featured the annual Alumni Reunion. The largest turnout of band alumni to date prompted the band staff to feature both bands on the field for a substantial portion of the show. The show theme was D-Day, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Normandy. Selections included "This is My Country", "American Patrol", a medley of military service songs, and "America the Beautiful". The band formed an animation of the famous image of a sailor kissing a woman in New York City upon returning home from the war, an army tank, ship anchor, the planting of the American flag on Iwo Jima, a classic twin engine bomber aircraft, and a coast guard boat. The nearly 800 band alumni framed the current band during most of their formations. This show also received national acclaim, particularly for its proximity to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


  1. "History". OSUMarchingBand.com. The Ohio State University Marching & Athletic Bands. 2013. Archived from the original on August 26, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  2. Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press. Its former director Jon Woods claimed, 'Supposedly at a pep rally one year, Woody Hayes stood up after the band played a song and said, "That's the best damn band in the land!" That's all it took. When Woody says something, it's law.'
  3. "History of The Ohio State Marching Band". The Ohio State University. 2006-10-25. Archived from the original on September 10, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-26.
  4. "Songs of The Ohio State University". scarletandgray.info. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
  5. "Investigation Report - Complaint against Jonathan Waters, Director of the OSU Marching Band" (PDF). The Ohio State University Office of University Compliance. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  6. Binkley, Collin (July 24, 2014). "Ohio State fires band director Jonathan Waters over 'sexualized' culture". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  7. Binkley, Collin (August 5, 2014). "Waters wants second chance from Ohio State". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  8. Hickman, Logan (November 19, 2014). "Flawed band culture stems from lack of university oversight, Betty Montgomery's investigation finds". The Lantern. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  9. https://www.osu.edu/bandculturetaskforce/report
  10. "Script Ohio Controversy". OSU v Michigan. Ohio State University Archives. 2002-10-12. Archived from the original on 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2006-10-26.
  11. Michigan Marching Band director Jamie Nix said, "Yes, that's true [that Michigan formed OHIO with its marching band], but certainly not in the complex form it takes on now with the OSU band."
    Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press.
  12. OSU Marching Band website, Eugene Weigel biography
  13. "The "i"-Dot Tradition". The Ohio State University Marching and Athletic Bands. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  14. Script Ohio, Evolution. Kappa Kappa Psi, Eta Chapter. 2004
  15. Ohio State Marching Band Traditions, OhioStateBuckeyes.com
  16. "Ohio Dept. Of Education Press Release". Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  17. "Columbus Dispatch Article on Script Braille Ohio with Pictures and Video".
  18. Castel, Brandon. "Retiring Band Director Jon Woods to dot the "i" at Halftime". TheOZone.net. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  19. Brozak, George (2004). Diamond Ohio, A History of the Ohio University Bands. Ashland, Ohio: Bookmasters, Inc. pp. 34–36.
  20. "OSU Marching Band Heading for Washington DC" (Press release). The Ohio State University. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
  21. "Moment of Zen, November 2, 2006". The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  22. Lesmerises, Doug (2012-10-09). "How the Ohio State marching band pulled together the video-game halftime show everyone is talking about". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  23. Silver, Curtis (2012-10-09). "Ohio State University Marching Band (TBDBITL) Goes Retro Arcade". Wired. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  24. Benedetti, Winda (2012-10-09). "From Tetris to Halo: Marching band's game tribute goes viral". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  25. Netburn, Deborah (2012-10-13). "Marching band showdown: 'Gangnam Style' vs. video game tribute". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  26. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VztAMzzjH0I
  27. Tzagournis, Elizabeth. "Ohio State Marching Band attracts attention of 'TODAY,' Michael Jackson's mom". The Lantern. Retrieved 9 Nov 2013.
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