Video: Tennessee’s Marching Band and Possibly the Worst Halftime Performance in College Football History

Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm ET

College Football, Kissed With Apocalypse

Frumped by

There wasn’t much to be particularly happy about on Rocky Top at the end the 1st half last Saturday evening. The Volunteers had played the Georgia Bulldogs to a somewhat pedestrian 6-6 stalemate heading into the locker room, but, nevertheless, there was still a lot of energy in the Knoxville night; still hope for the future and the second half of SEC football that lay ahead.

And then the band took the field.

Listen, we all know that halftime performances can be a bit drab, prompting the creative forces in charge to take risks; to think outside the box in an effort to keep butts in the bleachers and — if nothing else — help curb America’s growing obesity problem. Having said that, there is never a reasonable excuse for the liberties taken at Neyland Stadium over the weekend. Never a rational reason to subject 100,000+ rabid football fans to a Tennessee-themed reworking of Victor Fleming’s 1939 fantasy musical classic, The Wizard of Oz.

That’s right, Volunteer fans watched in captive horror as their “Pride of the Southland” marching band conducted a dialogue-rich reenactment of Dorothy and her dog “Smokey’s” trip down the “Checkerboard Road” in search of a way back to Rocky Top. Replete with embarrassingly lame jokes about Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and even the evening’s guest in the form of the “Wicked Witch of Georgia,” I think they may have even thrown in a still incomprehensible jab at Texas A&M (around the 6:15 mark).

Out of bounds, Vols. Out. Of. Bounds.

Pat Summit

Pat Summit, cast as the Good Witch, has every right to be upset

But wait, there’s more. Obviously not content with embarrassing merely themselves, someone in Tennessee’s music department decided that legendary Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit should be cast as the Good Witch (and the basketball team as the munchkins, apparently). Indeed, Coach Summit was even tasked with asking Neyland’s capacity crowd to click their heels three times and say “There’s no place like Rocky Top” (I’m not making that up; see around 7:00).

By now, of course, the Tennessee crowd was becoming cannibalistic. The kindest of Georgia fans probably offered their condolences, but most knew the damage was irreparable (and delighted in that fact). The positive energy had been sucked out of Neyland as quickly and as violently as Dorothy had been sucked into Oz.

With the home crowd still reeling from the ten minutes of halftime hell they’d just sat through, any home field advantage was now lost. Tennessee would go on to lose 20-12, gaining just 33 yards in the 2nd half, and in game that saw Georgia’s defense hold the Volunteers to -20 rushing yards for the entire contest. It may very well be only the second time in college football history where a marching band has played a pivotal role in the outcome of a game.

Leave the novel reinterpretations of The Wizard of Oz to bored Pink Floyd fans, okay, Vols?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Share
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

38 Responses to “Video: Tennessee’s Marching Band and Possibly the Worst Halftime Performance in College Football History”

  1. Sanjay Medi Says:

    Finally! Video of Tennessee's marching band conducting perhaps the worst halftime performance in CFB history #Oz

  2. Matt Forshee Says:

    Wow! I've never seen anyone so criticize a college marching band halftime show. Tenn's show mush have been awful. #fb

  3. Sam Smith Says:

    Shut the hell up and leave this band alone. Tennessee fans should be ashamed of themsevles for talking about their own band like this. Get a life.

  4. John Henderson Says:

    What’s wrong with the show? Schools do Oz shows everywhere.

  5. Lee Turner Says:

    Sat there amazed and sickened. I’m a former member of the Pride. That used to mean something. Now it means nothing except we USED to have a good band. Ugh.

  6. Ben Says:

    check out the 5:04 mark when the band decided it would be a good idea to spell out “UGA” on the field. Good thing ESPN didn’t cut to that on national tv while the pride is spelling out the opponents name. The whole thing was a joke.

    This is coming off a piss poor marketing stunt where they were out performed by a high school band at teh buffalo game. But even worse after they did a salute to superheroes on the ten year anniversary of 9/11 laying superman and ghostbusters instead of honoring the real heroes.

    absolutely unacceptable.

  7. BoyOBoy Says:

    Very clever…sounds like the crowd loved it. Sounds like old folks filming that still want them to do step two drills. I’m embarrassed for the foolish woman talking in the background. Better to be thought a fool than to open you mouth and prove it.

  8. Howard Luttrell Says:

    The worst show in college band history. Not sure who the band director is, but that person should be fired.

  9. Friday Says:

    Sam Smith, I’m an alumna of the band, and we ARE speaking out about the state of the Pride. Not because we hate it, but because we love it. You know what happens when you turn over a rock in the forest? You expose all the bugs, worms, and dirt underneath.

    Well, get a life of your own. We are busy turning over the rock.

  10. Friday Says:

    Just for Howard Luttrell: Contact info.

    I’ve heard rumors that Dr. Sousa, who was to replace Dr. W J Julian, has delegated the marching band to Dr. Ryder and Dr. Stewart. Also, that the students have input into what shows they do. So what’s next? Lady Gaga on the 50 yard line?

  11. Casey Says:

    I was in this band for 4 years… That’s not the worst show they’ve done. Nice try trying to blame the band for the team taking a crap on the field in the second half, though. There was fan interaction, people clapped, laughed, and said “there is no place like rocky-top” at the end. Then when they spelled Rocky Top, everyone cheered. Get over yourself. Just because the band did a show you don’t like doesn’t mean you should belittle one of the best bands in the Nation because you’re pissed the Vols lost. Get a life asshole.

  12. Billy Bob Says:

    Yes, they spelled UGA, but you might go back and look at the fact that the top of the A was very thin, making it look more like an H, as in “UGH”. I think it was supposed to be a joke.

  13. Ally Says:

    Dr. Julian was probably cringing….

    It is embarrassing. This is something UofVA would have done. I remember getting letters of apology all over the information wall from Alumni when schools would do this kind of pathetic stab?


    No Alumni Band for me.

  14. Veronica Says:

    HORRIFIC! I had heard about it, but seeing it is just embarrassing! Julian or Sparks would have NEVER sunk so low! Awful!!! 5 charts in 9 minutes…are you kidding me? POTSL members used to make fun of those kinds of bands, but even the park and barks have more charts than that! HORRIFIC!

  15. Troll Says:

    …this is why I enrolled at MTSU and I’m in the Band of Blue…

  16. AlumniPride Says:

    People – GET A LIFE! I’m an alumni of the pride. I love the band. The show was hilarious. I laughed all the way through. I can tell you it was a lot better than the choir show we had to do every year. Get over it. I’m looking forward to the trumpets on Saturday. As for the band helping to lose the game? Check out our rushing yardage, our missed tackles, our horrible pass rush and woeful secondary. The band had nothing to do with it.

  17. DarthRandall Says:

    There are two camps on this issue.

    In one camp are Pride alumni, both music majors and non-majors who were/are quality musicians. They were very proud of the work ethic and performance standards when they were a member of The Pride, and they lament at the downward spiral this organization has taken since the late 1990s. They take exception to clearly unrehearsed throwaway shows such as the one presented in this article, which isn’t entirely worse than every show of the last several years. The only quality show The Pride performs anymore is The Tennessee Circle Drill, which is an incredibly watered-down version of a show that debuted in 1998 (prior to that time there was a new circle drill every year, sometimes 2). Ultimately, these people were the heart and soul of the success of The Pride, and they are now ashamed to admit that they belonged to what is now an embarrasing 120-piece dance band.

    In the other camp are a). the average football fan, who could care less if the band performs at halftime or not; b). band alumni who were and are grossly unaware of their surroundings (and who also coasted by for four years on the field by *pretending* to play their instruments), are incapable of having their own opinions or tastes, relying on others to tell them what they think and what they like, and never understood what “Tennessee Pride” was or is; c). The parents of current members of The Pride, who believe their children are unique snowflakes, and everything they do or take part in must be of the highest caliber.

    One must take caution in placing blame on the situation in that program. The current head director has little to nothing to do with the marching band anymore; he abandoned it long ago to focus on the music school’s wind and percussion program (which is just as unknown and obscure outside academia as it was 15 years ago). The economy is often cited for the band’s low numbers in recent years; unfortunately, enrollment in most other top-tier SEC schools’ band programs is higher than ever, so that excuse does not hold water. And one must not forget the school itself is engrossed in SEC violations, ever-changing personnel in high-profile positions (particularly the atheletic director, who, surprisingly, probably is more to blame than anyone else). The bottom line is that the Tennessee band program has lost its repuation as one of the best bands in the nation, and is losing much of its alumni support, and the people in charge could absolutely care less if there’s a marching band program or not.

  18. BeckyW Says:

    Hmmm….look familiar. This was our show last year. MMB always does it best.

  19. TKM Says:

    I’m a recent grad from a Big XII school. I’ve seen my share (and even been a part) of some shows that I didn’t really care for. Watching this video, I can tell that the band worked hard on what they did. The drill was pretty sharp and the music was clean. Yeah, I would call it a bit cheesey, lame and all-around odd choice for a halftime show, but we’ve all done things we aren’t proud of.

  20. Sarah Says:

    I was there, and the show was funny and enjoyed by everyone, including the GA fans all around us. You are welcome to your opinion, but there is no way this group of talented musicians, a band known world wide for excellence, performed the worst show in college band history.

  21. UofMFan Says:

    This is ridiculous. How could the band steal the exact same show from the Michigan Marching Band? The MMB’s version was beyond a complete hit. If you lift a show, do it right.

  22. William Zachary Says:

    The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland is in a rut. Mr. Sousa needs to be replaced by someone capable of delivering the volume, energy, and incredible drills that were present during the Dr. WJ Julian era. I don’t know who that would be, but Sousa clearly does not give a damn. They can’t even play Rocky Top correctly now… all the notes “dubbed off” as Jim Sparks was fond of saying.

    before, done correctly:
    before, done correctly:

    now, nearly silent:
    now, goose farting:

  23. Lindy Says:

    To all Pride of the Southland Alumni.. You should all be ashamed at the way you are talking about the Pride. It is your alma mater for crying out loud. Times change, generations change, and the people change. These kids work EXTREMELY hard. They put in over 20 hours a week for 1 credit hour. You have all been through it and need a reality check. My daughter is in the band. STOP bringing these kids down. They look at your comments and are hurt and discouraged. NONE of you have a life and just need something to bitch about, apparently. But seriously, stop. You are only making the alumni look bad… Really bad.

  24. MagnoliaFan Says:


    They certainly worked hard on learning how to lay their instruments down on the field and dance like idiots to Thriller, didn’t they? Because that is what The Pride is all about, shrinking from 350 to 100, playing every note as short as they can, and moving 5 times in 10 minutes. They SHOULD be hurt and discouraged, which would be a step above their seeming content with mediocrity. It would behoove you to watch some videos of The Pride in the 80s and 90s on Youtube, then videos from the past 5 years. Further, you should watch some videos of bands such as Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan, and Georgia. If you can’t see the marked difference in quality and musicianship, then YOU are making parents living vicariously through their children look bad. Really bad.

  25. Jenny Says:

    I agree this is a disappointing and embarassing half time show. I only say that because I expect more from the Pride of the Southland. Where was the “Circle Drill” or any of the other spectacular and impressive performances I have seen in the past? Weak!!!

  26. GatorBoy Says:

    Go Gators!!!!

  27. David Says:

    I saw the show and thought it was very creative and fun. The music and marching execution were excellent as always. What is clear is that this author doesn’t know anything about marching band and should leave music performance evaluations to the experts.

  28. ME Says:

    Well I think you all need a life and I pretty sure they did not affect the outcome of that game. The football team just sucks more than what UT fans thought they would this year. Plus how can this be the worst game when michigan has done it as well, explain that one.

  29. Davey boy Says:

    Hello? Southland Hicks! Anbody Home?

  30. Recent Pride Alumnus Says:

    I did the Thriller show, and I must say, we put a good effort into that. It was a very special and unique show for a very rare HALLOWEEN night game. The crowd loved it, so I don’t care what a few angry alumni say about it. It was a cohesive show with good music and some entertaining forms. There’s stuff the Pride’s done lately that I don’t like either, but don’t discount the hard work the kids are doing. These kids are as good as any past Pride groups. Pregame is still solid. All complaints should go to the directors. The Wizard of Oz show was cheesy I must say. The biggest disappointment of that was the lack of good charts, just lots of standing and playing with silly,silly dubbed acting.

  31. Robert Cobb Says:

    Yes, the kids in the Pride today work very hard, which is all the more reason to be outraged and embarrassed by this fiasco. As a Pride alum from the 80s, I was appalled as I watched this. You who think we don’t have a life because we criticize this hve obviously never known what it was once like to be a part of this once great organization. As band director and professional musician, I can say that this was mindless and inane. It wasn’t the worst college halftime show ever (tht distincton probably still goes to the Uniersity of Virginia for “killing” Elvis at the 1991 Sugar Bowl), but it is absolutely the all-time low in POTSL history, and no I didn’t hear or see anyone blaming te kids. Rather, they plced it squarely where it belongs–on the leadership. This band that once numbered around 350 now struggles to firld 175, if that, and now we see why. Pregame is still well-performed, but with a much smaller set that no longer reaches sideline to sideline, and the “T” that once went from the back of the endzone to the opposite 45 now geos from the goalline to the near 45. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but while it may have seemed like a good idea to someone at the time, to call the end result embarrassing is an incredible understatement. The peopl we heard talking bout it were merely expressing what countless Prie alumni were undoubtably thinking. Sure the fans participated and even cheered, but the average fan doesn’t know a sousaphone from a piccolo and only gets excited when they play Rocky Top anyway. Most of them actually think it’s the school fight song! So for you who think we are over the top for complaining, you are entitled to your opinion, but so are we, and ours is based on actual information and experience that you will never have.

  32. Interesting Says:

    There’s several reasons why the Pride numbers have fluctuated so much recently..One is the ebb and flow of the alternate system. When the band gets bigger, more people end up on the sideline as alternates because there’s a certain limit on the number of marchers in Pregame and halftime shows. This limit is definitely lower than the band numbers from earlier eras.Rule violations or repeated marching mistakes will get you pulled off the field. This strictness is meant to encourage the highest performance level,but it often discourages many talented kids who are non majors from coming back. Once you get pulled, you basically have to wait your turn on a list to get back on the field. The only way to move up is when other people screw up and get pulled. This environment is often terrifying. Not that marching band isn’t normally scary, but if you are paralyzed with constant fear of getting pulled, you usually start screwing up, no matter how much you prepare. Ohio State, for example, has a challenge system where alternates can get back on the field if they’ve improved their skills.I’d love to see more members on the field, but it’s just not written that way anymore. There’s a number cap. If the alternate system was changed or eliminated completely, it would improve the band’s numbers very quickly.When the band is low on numbers, the staff is more lenient and forgiving, almost everyone marches and everyone goes home pretty happy. Then they get 150 freshmen and the nasty alternate system rears its ugly head, and you can see as many 30 alternates on the sideline on a practice day,which whether you agree with it or not, is the most dejecting sight ever. The band has to retain upperclassmen, and stop trying to copy Ohio State.( whom I respect very much)

  33. Interesting Says:

    And that’s the thing about the Dr. Julian days,everyone fears him, he was a strict disciplinarian(from what I hear in old alumni stories),but all the alumni seemed to really enjoy playing for him and had a lot of fun. I’ve seen old videos of ridiculously large Pride groups playing that old school Rocky Top on the field,and it sounds awesome. There must be a way to maintain the tradition, discipline and hard work while maintaining a fun atmosphere to retain more members.

  34. outdoor roller blinds singapore Says:

    I visited various websites however the audio quality for audio songs current at this web
    page is really wonderful.

  35. a Says:

    Good response in return of this difficulty with real arguments
    and telling all regarding that.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    This is incredibly rude.

  37. Bd Says:

    Really? U blamed the band for the football team losing? No wonder UT didn’t go to a bowl for 3 years. Hey, maybe it was the cheerleaders fault. They didn’t cheer loud enough. Oh and by the way, this was way more entertaining with a better crowd response than I ever got when I was in this band in the late 80’s. And the band played and marched well.

  38. Matthew Cavanaugh Says:

    Tennessee’s band has gotten a lot worse since this was posted. Oklahoma’s pep band completely drowned out Tennessee’s band a couple weeks ago, and Tennessee’s band was miked…

    I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the quality of a football team and the quality of a marching band or not, but Tennessee’s band stinks as bad as the team. I know no one likes to hear that, and I know the band members work hard, but that doesn’t change the fact that they stink. I’m not blaming the kids, either. It’s the directors fault, it’s like they’re going out of their way to make the band worse and worse with each passing year…

Leave a Reply

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.