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.

TBDBOTW

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!)

Winning, And Saluting Our Soldiers

Yesterday the Ohio State Buckeyes manhandled the Fighting Illini, 52-22, in a game that really wasn’t that close.  Ohio State ran the ball at will, completed long pass plays, and throttled the Illinois offense as they moved to 10-0.

It also was a good example of why attending a game is a different experience than watching it on TV.  Before the game, at halftime, and during all those timeouts when TV viewers are forced to watch commercials about cars and beer, Ohio Stadium was saluting our military.

When timeouts came, recorded greetings from Buckeyes serving abroad were played on the big scoreboard, and students in the ROTC were introduced down on the field.  Before the game military members unfurled a huge flag as The Best Damn Band In The Land played the National Anthem, and then two fighter jets screamed by overhead.  And at halftime, TBDBITL played a series of songs from military movies while the band members marched into patriotic shapes and Old Glory was displayed again, at the center of a star.

TBDBITL is always wonderful, and yesterday’s show and general salute to the members of our military, presented just a few days before Veterans’ Day, was well timed for another reason — at the end of a long and sometimes bitter presidential campaign, it was nice to see something that everyone in attendance, regardless of party affiliation, could cheer wholeheartedly.

Horseshoe Hotbox (II)

As predicated, the Ohio State-Akron game was a hotbox.  The game featured blazing sunshine and temperatures that reached near the century mark.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that medics treated dozens of people for heat-related conditions, and University officials opened up cooler areas of the Stadium, including the band room, for people suffering from the effects of the heat.  As for the band itself, members received bags of ice to place on their baking noggins, as shown in the Cleveland Plain Dealer photo at left.  The TV report on the game showed that a huge number of alumni band members fled for shaded areas and ice water rather than endure the cruel heat and sun in the stands.

As bad as the spectator seating was, the field was worse.  One official had to leave the game, and the trainers were working overtime to keep players hydrated and cooled off.  Normally temperatures in the 80s at game time produce lots of cramps, but there didn’t seem to be many yesterday.  Perhaps that is a sign that this year’s Buckeye squad is particularly well-conditioned.

It will be good to get into true football weather — for fans, players, bandies, and officials alike.