When Four “i”s Get Dotted

IMG_3114I took a friend to his first-ever game at the Ohio Stadium today.  He got to see the Buckeyes beat up on a hapless Kent State team, 66-0, and was introduced to all of the great traditions that surround Ohio State football.

Although he was impressed by the football team’s score, what really blew him away was The Best Damn Band In The Land.  It was alumni band weekend, and 800 of the former members of TBDBITL returned for a chance to march and play on hallowed ground once more.  When they marched in before the start of the game, the alumni bandies covered the entire field.  And whew!  What a massive, colossal sound when about a thousand brass instruments and drums start to play I Want To Go Back To Ohio State in unison!

The band’s show ended with the quadruple Script Ohio — three of which were performed by alumni band members.  When the 4 “i”s got dotted and the sousaphone players bowed to the crowd, the place went up for grabs.

Here’s a sign of how much Ohio State fans like their band.  At halftime, people actually stay in their seats to watch the band’s show.  It’s only in the few minutes between the end of the band’s show and the start of the second half that there’s a mad stampede for the bathrooms.


A Heartfelt Message From “Donk”

The fallout continues from the discharge of Jonathan Waters, the Director of the Ohio State University Marching Band.

IMG_1898Jocelyn Smallwood, whose TDBITL nickname was “Donk” and whose nickname was prominently featured in the report that precipitated the dismissal, has written a lengthy letter to the new President of the Ohio State University.  It’s a great letter, and it helps to flesh out the range of emotions and reactions to the report and the dismissal.

Band members, band alumni, band parents and friends, and members of Buckeye Nation feel passionately about The Best Damn Band In The Land.  It’s one of the things that separates TBDBITL from the run of the mill college bands and makes it an elite institution.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to OSU administration that the dismissal has provoked strong reactions.

One Band Member’s View

Every Ohio State graduate I know is proud of the Ohio State University Marching Band — which any true Buckeye knows as The Best Damn Band In The Land.  That’s why the recent report about TBDBITL, and the dismissal of band director Jonathan Waters, is very hard news to take for the members of Buckeye Nation.

One of my friends is father to a daughter, Jocelyn Smallwood, who played Sousaphone in TBDBITL and dotted the i in Script Ohio during the Michigan game — an incredible accomplishment I wrote about in this blog several years ago.  She loves the band and respects Mr. Waters — and she also happens to be mentioned in the report because her band nickname is “Donk.”

Jocelyn offers a different view on the recent report and the dismissal decision.  If you’re interested in seeing what one band member has to say about the issues, you can find Jocelyn’s thoughts here.

Cool Band

The Fifth Floor Band Dad advises that TBDBITL — that is, the Ohio State University Marching Band — will be performing at the Purdue game today, and his daughter will be “dotting the i” on Script Ohio, just as she did last year at the Michigan game.

Watching The Best Damn Band In The Land is always a treat, but this year the band has been breaking new ground with their marching routines, which create cowboys, dinosaurs, and other moving figures that correspond to the musical themes of their halftime shows.  The terrific show where the band depicted Michael Jackson “moon-walking” — complete with white glove — gives you a good sense of how TBDBITL is, once again, absolutely living up to that name.


Those of us in Ohio have always known that The Ohio State University Marching Band is the Best Damn Band In The Land.  Now, thanks to the Bus Riding Conservative and this video showing the band skimming across the waters of Lake Erie on their way to a celebration of the War of 1812 at Put-in-Bay, we know that TBDBITL is also TBDBOTW.

Let’s Go, Buckeyes!

Let’s go, Buckeyes!  It’s time to win The Game and kick some Maize and Blue butt!  (And enjoy Jocelyn Smallwood dotting the i in Script Ohio.)

Edited to add:  It’s cold here in Columbus on Game Day, with a brisk wind and a few snowflakes drifting down.  Perfect football weather!

Dotting The i At “The Game”

If you are a Sousaphone player in Ohio, you have one overriding dream:  to one day dot the i in Script Ohio.

Script Ohio is one of the most revered traditions of the Ohio State University Marching Band — commonly known, without exaggeration, as The Best Damn Band In The Land.  In fact, Script Ohio may be the most famous band maneuver in the world.  Starting from the form of a square, the band plays “Le Regiment” and follows the drum major in order to spell out “Ohio” in cursive letters, as if the word were being written by a giant hand.  The climax comes when the drum major leads one of the senior Sousaphone player out to dot the i.  The Sousaphone player high steps out, removes his or her hat, and does a deep bow to make the dot as Ohio Stadium roars its approval.

As great as it is to dot the i, the real cherry is to dot the i in Script Ohio during The Game — Ohio State’s annual grudge match against the Michigan Wolverines. I’ve actually met the Sousaphonist who will have that tremendous honor, and the nationally televised thrill of a lifetime, during Saturday’s Big Game.  Her name is Jocelyn Smallwood, and her parents are Carl and Connie Smallwood.  TBDBITL is a strict meritocracy, and Jocelyn has worked hard to earn the acclamation that will come with dotting the i at the Michigan game.  Among the more than 100,000 screaming fans will be many members of the extended Smallwood clan, cheering Jocelyn on as she prances out to Sousaphone immortality.

Congratulations, Jocelyn!  (And Beat Michigan!)