Battle Of The Bands: Stanford vs. Wisconsin

Absent from the Ohio State vs. Wisconsin football game in Madison last Saturday was the Wisconsin marching band. Earlier in the week, the Badger band was suspended for hazing, alcohol abuse, and sexual misconduct. As you would expect, Ohio State would defeat Wisconsin 20-17 without the lovely sounds. Band director Mike Leckrone informed the media that the entire band would be suspended indefinitely for the first time since he became band director in 1969. The band will find out its fate sometime this week.

This isn’t the first time the band has been in trouble. In 2007, the assistant band director resigned after (long story short) he hooked up with a female band member at a party the previous year. At that time, their awful, awful behavior was deemed “boorish to patently dangerous and unlawful.” To make things worse, women had to kiss women to use the Badger bus bathroom on road trips.

It’s a shame that several young women who were just trying to make out in front of the male band members are made into criminals. Let the band have fun. Let the girls make out with each other. Let the guys watch. Let the faculty hook up with the band members. It’s college. You’re suppose to do these things.

That’s the Wisconsin Band.

This is the Stanford Band.

The Stanford Band, a.k.a “The World’s Largest Rock and Roll Band” and “LSJUMB”, pulls stunts that put the Delts from the “Animal House” movie in a jealous rage. They are so beloved that, in the 70’s, an alumnus donated 1 million to the school with the request that the Band be censored and more closely monitored. The president at that time tore the check up and sent it back with a note saying ‘We love the Band.’

Perhaps most famous for running onto the field during the Stanford-Cal (“The Play”) game in 1982, their theatrics go way beyond that one instance. To put is simply, that’s nothing.

Here are some of the more controversial performances with disciplinary action since the 1980s (from wikipedia):

  • “On October 11th, 1986, an infamous incident of public urination happened following the home football game vs. UW where two band members were caught urinating outside the stadium after the game. During the halftime show of the home USC game on October 19th, 1986, the band spelled out “NO BALLZ”. For the next game they performed an anagram show and spelled out an anagrammed four letter word (“NCUT”). (The “NCUT” formation was written to be “NEUT,” an anagram of “TUNE”–but Band members did not form the crossbar to the “E”, changing it to a “C” and thus drastically changing the anagrammed word.) After the UCLA game suspension was served, the band appeared at the Cal game wearing angel halos.”
  • “In 1990, Stanford suspended the band for a single game after their halftime show at the Oregon game criticized the logging of the spotted owl’s habitats in the northwest United States. The band used formations in the shape of a chainsaw and in the shape of the word OWL changing to AWOL. (The) Governor issued a decree that the band not return to Oregon for several years; the band did not return until 2001.”
  • “In 1991, Notre Dame banned the Band from visiting its campus after a halftime show at Stanford in which drum major Eric Selvik dressed as a nun and conducted the band using a wooden cross as a baton. (During the pregame show and first half of the game, the drum major had been dressed as an Orthodox Jew, where the wooden cross was part of a menorah-like baton.) After the halftime show, a female Notre Dame fan ran onto the field, approached from behind the unsuspecting Selvik, and forcibly ripped the nun habit off of his head. Selvik pursued and regained his habit from the attacker, who in the scuffle for the habit told the drum major he was “going to hell for this.”
  • “In 1992, the Athletic Department pressured the LSJUMB to fire its announcers after one used the phrase “No chuppa, no schtuppah, at a San Jose State game halftime show.”
  • “In 1994, the Band was disciplined after nineteen members of the band skipped a field rehearsal in Los Angeles to play outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O.J. Simpson trial. The band’s song selection included an arrangement of “The Zombies,” “She’s Not There.” Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro described the incident to the media as “a new low in tasteless behavior.” Later that year, during the halftime show of the football game against USC (where Simpson had played football and won the 1968 Heisman Trophy), band members drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford stadium track, an obvious allusion to the low-speed chase in which police followed a white Bronco carrying Simpson around the Los Angeles area.”
  • “In 1997, the Band was again disciplined for shows lampooning Catholicism and the Irish at a game against Notre Dame. The Band put on a show entitled “These Irish, Why Must they Fight?” Besides the mocking the Irish-Catholic behavior, there was a Riverdance formation, and a Potato Famine joke, drawing criticism for its “tasteless” portrayal of Catholics. Both the band and the Stanford President subsequently apologized for the band’s behavior.”
  • “In 2002 and 2006, the Band was sanctioned for off-the-field behavior, including violations of the University alcohol policy.”
  • “In 2004, the Band drew national attention and Mormon ire for joking about polygamy, which was practiced by some Mormons until 1890 and is still practiced by splinter groups outside of the LDS Church. This occurred during a game against BYU. The Dollies appeared in wedding veils with the Band Manager of the time kneeling and “proposing” to each in turn as the announcer referred to marriage as “the sacred bond that exists between a man and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman. The joke was later used multiple times by Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, himself a Mormon.”
  • “The band’s hijinks were given a wider audience when they became the subject of Alan Alda’s appearance on the “Not My Job” segment on National Public Radio’s ‘Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me’ on September 9, 2006.”
  • “In 2006, the band was suspended by Stanford administrators when their former “Band Shak” was vandalized. After moving into a new $2.8 million facility, the previous Shak, a trailer that served as a temporary home for the band, was found with broken windows and profanities spray painted on the walls. Administrators believed members of the Band were responsible for the damage, as the band had believed the trailer was to be demolished the next day.”
(“The Spotted Owl” show, Stanford at Oregon 1990 – read above – from ‘Owl’ to ‘Awol’ to a ‘Chainsaw’ amongst boos)

To this day, the Stanford Band still does not make all the road trips. Because of their satire on Notre Dame where they implied that priests and nuns are hypocrites, they are not allowed in South Bend. In retaliation the next year, the Band came out on the field at halftime dressed as priests and nuns with beers in their hands and humped each other. Not to be outdone by a single university, the Stanford Band would find itself banned from the entire state of Oregon after a halftime show at Oregon State made fun of the state’s troubled logging industry and heavy marijuana use. They actually spelled “Weed.” Originally they couldn’t come back for 3 years but that would turn out to be 10.

All in all, the Stanford Band has produced 13 albums. Needless to say, I envy them. It’s one thing to go after a team, but when you have the audacity to go after an entire culture, you have to respect that. Granted, they are a little brighter than most college bands. However, to be able to pull off such stunts on such a grand stage as they have done is incredible.

Beat that Wisconsin!

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