A good halftime show is nothing without the built-in pageantry. It’s boring and lame, like reading your vacuum’s owner’s manual. Drum majors make sure we aren’t let down. They lead the band with high struts, waving arms and wearing suits that give me second-hand heat exhaustion.
College marching bands bring back memories of going to the game with your dad and inhaling pizza. They elicit the post-game glow after a big win. They reignite old college memories like doing an ice luge and jumping on card tables.
Each college football fan has a special relationship with their marching band. Some bands make any fan, regardless of allegiance, appreciate what true showmanship is.
Let’s take a look at the 10 best college football bands in all the land.
10 Best College Football Marching Bands
10. The University of Texas Longhorn Band, Texas
UT’s band, aka “The Showband of the Southwest,” is defined by its music of course, but also its cowboy uniforms. The band has several game day traditions including “Home on the Range,” ringing cowbells and “Big Bertha,” one of the largest bass drums in the world.
9. The Purdue “All-American” Marching Band, Purdue
The “All-American” Marching band isn’t just the official band of the Boilermakers, it’s also the official band of the Indy 500. The Purdue University band is a pacesetter in the marching band world, being the first to form pictures on the field, carry the colors of Big Ten peers, perform opponents’ fight songs and wear their hats backward after a conference win. Astronaut Neil Armstrong and popcorn fiend Orville Redenbacher were band members during their days in West Lafayette.
8. “Million Dollar Band,” Alabama
The University of Alabama rules over its competition on the football field. Its marching band follows suit. “The Million Dollar Band” leads ‘Bama fans in the “Elephant Stomp,” “Big B-A-M-A Spellout” and the post-victory “Rammer Jammer.”
7. “Best Damn Band in the Land,” Ohio State
The Ohio State University Marching Band is famous for “dotting the I” in the Script Ohio march, a prestigious tradition reserved for upperclassman sousaphone players. OSU’s other famous Buckeye traditions include the “Ramp Entrance” and “Skull Session.”
6. “The Spirit of Troy,” USC
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, it’s no surprise the University of Southern California Trojan marching band has taken its talents from the football field to Hollywood. “The Spirit of Troy” has appeared in movies and TV shows such as “Scrubs,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Forrest Gump.” Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart famously conducted the band after the football team beat Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl and earned a share of the national championship.
5. The Michigan Marching Band, Michigan
The University of Michigan’s marching band is responsible for blessing the college football world with “The Victors,” a staple of the sport. The MMB sports over 400 members who take part in the famous pregame show called “Let’s Go Blue.” Historically, the band performed at the Super Bowl in 1973 before pop stars took over the NFL’s biggest night.
4. “Blue Band,” Penn State
Penn State’s Blue Band tops Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue as the best marching band in the Big Ten. The “Blue Band” puts on traditions such as the pregame “Floating Lions Drill” and the drum major flip. Fun tidbit: The Blue Band’s twirler is called “Blue Sapphire.”
3. “The Pride of Oklahoma,” Oklahoma
You can count on “The Pride of Oklahoma” blasting “Boomer Sooner” at every OU athletics event. The band went viral for its performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in 2007. It played the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the same year.
2. “Sonic Boom of the South,” Jackson State
With a name like the “Sonic Boom of the South,” it’s hard not to include the Jackson State University band on the list. Marching bands in the SWAC are built different. Sorry Coach Prime, football is secondary to the band, and at Jackson State, the high-production routine is one of the most entertaining in the country.
1. “The Pride of the Sunshine,” Florida
The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band makes college football games special in Gainesville. The band loves to put its own spin on the “Jaws” theme and relishes in playing “We Are the Boys” at the end of the third quarter. The Gators band is an international act, too. It played at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“The Fightin Texas Aggie Band,” Texas A&M University
“The Band of the Fighting Irish,” Notre Dame
“The Human Jukebox,” Southern University
The Hawkeye Marching Band, Iowa
“The Pride of the Southland Band,” University of Tennessee
“Marching 110,” Ohio
The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, Stanford
“The Golden Band From Tigerland,” Louisiana State University (LSU)
“The Spartan Marching Band,” Michigan State
UCLA Bruin Marching Band, UCLA
The University of Wisconsin Marching Band, Wisconsin
The Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band, Houston