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Ohio State Traditions: The Band, the Music, and Game-day Atmosphere

Discussion in 'Content' started by jlb1705, Dec 17, 2004.

  1. jlb1705

    jlb1705 GROWN AND SEXY Staff Member Bookie

    This is the second column in a short series on Ohio State Buckeye traditions and rituals. Hopefully, this will provide some answers for those of you who have wondered:


    What is Tabittle? Why do all these Buckeye fans keep saying it?
    - or -
    How do Ohio State fans get so loud?


    There isn’t a more passionate group of fans in all of college football than Ohio State Buckeye fans. Here’s part of the reason why…


    The Best Damn Band in the Land. Otherwise known as “TBDBITL” (tuh-bit-tle), “The Pride of the Buckeyes”, The Ohio State University Marching Band is as much a part of the Ohio State experience as the football game itself. TBDBITL is 225 members (33 of which are non-marching alternates), all brass and percussion. They are one of the few, and perhaps the largest band of this type in the entire world. The Ohio State University Marching Band has been an innovator in its field, and many of the methods employed by college and high school marching bands around the country got their start at Ohio State.


    The band plays an integral part in getting Ohio State fans pumped up before and during the game. The band has released twenty-six commercial recordings since 1958, and pretty much any tailgate worth a darn will have at least one of those recordings playing. Additionally, the spirit and energy displayed by the band during its songs and cheers help make the crowd as loud an intimidating as any in college sports.


    Skull Session. One of the marching band innovations to come about at Ohio State was the memorization of music. This practice would allow for concentration by the band on more intricate marching and maneuvering. To accommodate this new method, it became necessary for the band to hold a last-minute practice or “skull session” to make sure that the music had been memorized correctly and was ready for performance.


    Rehearsal Hall was where this last-minute practice took place, and friends and family members would come there to watch the band before the game. The practice session became very popular among the general public, and the practice session quickly outgrew its setting. In 1957, the Skull Session was moved to St. John Arena, across the street from Ohio Stadium.


    Since its humble beginnings in 1932, Skull Session has evolved from a rehearsal to a full-blown Buckeye pep-rally, with over 10,000 people cramming into St. John Arena (many of them arriving up to two hours before the band) to hear the band prepare for its pregame and halftime performances. Coach Tressel has even got the football team involved in the festivities, bringing them for a brief walkthrough where Coach Tressel greets and thanks the fans and the band for their support and their part in the success of the football team on the field.


    Ramp Entrance. For the fans, this moment marks the end of pregame festivites, and the start of the game. The Ramp Entrance brings about the first real roar from the Ohio Stadium crowd on football Saturdays. It is a crescendo over the course of several minutes, which starts with the band arriving at the stadium, and culminates in one of the most famous images of the band outside of Script Ohio. This is when the drum major high-steps from the ramp, through the band’s formation and stops at the front to bend back and touch their plume to the ground before leading the band to the other end of the field while they play “Buckeye Battle Cry”.


    Fight Songs. Ohio State has two fight songs in its repertoire, “Buckeye Battle Cry” and “Fight the Team”. The first of the two is more prominent. “Buckeye Battle Cry” is played at the end of the Ramp Entrance, is sang by the band at the end of Script Ohio, and is the fight song that is played after every Buckeye score. Fight the Team is equally beloved and important though, as it is the song that the band uses to rally the team and the fans at critical points in the game. It is also sang by the team before dismissing from the locker room after the game.


    Hang On Sloopy. This is a big crowd pleaser. The song was released in 1965 by the rock-n-roll group the McCoys, who were from Ohio. Later that year, it was arranged for TBDBITL by a band member, and they began playing it during games. It caught on very quickly, and became a permanent fixture in the band’s routine. This song pumps up Buckeye fans to the extent that the reaction during the playing of the song has been used to test the structural integrity of Ohio Stadium. “Hang On Sloopy” is not only synonymous with Ohio State and Buckeye athletics; it is also the official rock-n-roll song of the State of Ohio. Buckeye fans sing the chorus of this song, and will let out cheers of “O! H! I! O!” during the song.


    Script Ohio. This is perhaps the most recognizable, enduring, and time-honored tradition in all of college sports. The band first performed it in 1936. The routine begins with the band assembled in a triple “Block O” formation on the east side of the field. The band plays a French march called “Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse”, while the drum major leads the band single-file through the scripting of “Ohio”. The whole thing takes a few minutes, and culminates in dotting the “i”, which is a grand tradition within the Script Ohio tradition. After the cheers from dotting the “i” subside, the band sings “Buckeye Battle Cry”


    Dotting the “i”. There is one position in this most revered of college traditions that itself is revered above all others, and it is that of the i-dotter. Dotting the “i” is the ultimate moment in the Script Ohio, and for the lucky few that get to occupy that position it is a defining experience. The i-dotter is always a veteran sousaphone player. Sousaphone players actually come to Ohio State and try out for the band in hopes of one day becoming an i-dotter. Additionally, dotting the “i” is the highest honor that the band can bestow on friends of the band. A select few non-band members have been honored in such a way, Bob Hope and Woody Hayes among them.


    Carmen Ohio. This is the Ohio State alma mater. It is the original school song, and is the most emotionally moving of all of Ohio State’s songs. When the band plays it, it begins with the sounds of Orton Hall’s chimes. The lyrics for Carmen Ohio were composed by Ohio State freshman Fred Cornell in 1902 while returning from a lopsided Buckeye defeat at the hands of M*ch*g*n. (On a personal note, it was upon hearing Carmen Ohio for the first time at the ‘Shoe that I realized I wanted to go to Ohio State.) Jim Tressel started a new tradition associated with Carmen Ohio when he arrived: After every home game and some away game, Coach Tressel, the team, and the band assemble on the field and sing the song. Hopefully at the end of this month, they will be singing it on the floor of the Alamodome after yet another Buckeye victory!


    Neutron Man. Sadly us Buckeye fans are no longer blessed with this tradition, but it is worthy of mention anyhow. In 1983, TBDBITL began playing a version of the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” during games. A man named Orlas King, a huge Buckeye fan and TBDBITL supporter, would get up and do a wacky dance when the band played the song after the third quarter, while the rest of the crowd cheered him on. His dance and his enthusiasm entertained Buckeye fans for years. Mr. King passed away this season, on October 7.


    O-H-I-O. This is the standard chant/cheer of Buckeye fans. There are several variations on it, and opposing fans in San Antonio will probably see each of them at some point or another. Each of these chants/cheers is accompanied by arm motions that help spell out the name of our state (think YMCA, but not lame). The two most visible examples of this will be during the game, when Buckeye fans around the stadium will spell out O-H-I-O (one letter for each “side” of the stadium). It will be interesting to see if things work out in San Antonio to allow Buckeye fans to do this cheer similar to the way it’s done in Columbus. In Columbus, the cheer has an almost tidal wave effect.


    The other main version of this is a call (O-H!) and response (I-O!) this one is more likely to be heard outside the game, and especially at the bars and other places where Buckeye fans will congregate. Hopefully, Buckeye fans will be yelling it loud and proud while celebrating another Buckeye victory.




    This is a 3 part piece by jlb1705. Find other information about OSU Traditions in JLB's other articles.

    Ohio State Traditions: Buckeye Football

    Ohio State Traditions: The Band, the Music, and Game-day Atmosphere

    Ohio State Traditions: Buckeye Symbols & Icons


    Find other articles (including these) concerning the Alamo Bowl at O-State's "Bowl Central"

    O-State's Bowl Central

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