Cal at Ohio State [PHOTOS & VIDEOS]: Cal Band-Ohio State Marching Band Historic Reunion, Cal Athletics Party, Cal Rugby


It's been a couple weeks since Cal visited Ohio State, so you might be wondering why I'm still posting all these photos and videos. Plenty has been said about the team's play that weekend. Plenty has been said about the team's play since. But I'm not here to focus on the team's play. I'm here to share the rest of my Cal (Band) experience that weekend. Though a couple thousand Cal fans made it to Columbus for the game, there were hundreds of thousands that didn't. And maybe they're curious what it looked like and felt like. Maybe they're Cal Band fan(atic)s like me (especially when the teams aren't giving us much to be happy about). Maybe they want to see what made me love the trip though it had little to do with football.

Before I was a Cal Football fan, I was a Cal fan. And before I was a Cal fan, I was a Cal Band fan. During my time in the band, I often heard about how much we were influenced by the Ohio State Marching Band (also known as "The Best Damn Band In The Land," or TBDBITL). I heard that the Cal Band was embarrassed at the 1950 Rose Bowl when meeting the Ohio State Marching Band (who outperformed them). I heard that the Cal Band resolved never to be outperformed again. We patterned our marching after them. We patterned our uniforms after them. We even patterned our North Tunnel Yell after theirs and "stole" their drum cadence. We kind of became a tOSU Marching Band clone, so to speak. (For more facts, check out the Cal Band History Book, Chapter 8).

It's been over 62 years since that Rose Bowl. Decades since the two bands have met (logical since we're in two different conferences, separated by thousands of miles). So when I heard Cal would play at Ohio State, I knew I had to go. I was curious to see if TBDBITL would still closely resemble the Cal Band. In a way, it was like putting specimens of Homo Sapiens on different continents, letting 15 band-generations pass, and seeing if they were still similar. In the Pac-12, no other band looks that similar. The UC Davis Aggie Band-Uh would probably be our closest relative otherwise. Seeing Ohio State's band was to be a very special treat.

In the photos and videos below, you'll see what I saw. Highlights include:

1) Cal Men's Rugby vs. Notre Dame.
2) Cal Athletics party at Gordon Biersch Columbus.
3) TBDBITL "Skull Session"--their very well-attended pregame concert/show that the football team attends.
4) The Cal Band marching toward the stadium.
5) TBDBITL Pregame Show, including their performance of "Fight for California" and a SCRIPT CAL. They also do a Script Ohio, too.
6) Their football team rallying with their students and sticking around when their band plays their alma mater.
7) TBDBITL Halftime Show
8) Cal Band Basses strutting at Ohio Stadium
9) A close look at TBDBITL's state-of-the-art Band Center. Perhaps the nicest marching band facilities in the world.

All photos and videos Copyright 2012 Duc Bieu Pham,

I don't claim to be a historian, so please feel free to comment and fill in the facts where I've missed them.


First stop on the Cal Athletics tour was Cal Men's Rugby. They took on Notre Dame. Great to see so many Cal fans out to support the team!







After Cal Rugby, we headed over to Columbus' Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (yes, the chain co-founded by Cal alumnus Dan Gordon '82). Cal Athletics had taken over the bar area with decorations and was giving out free Cal Football #GoBears t-shirts to the first few hundred fans.


The smartest Bears staked out their tables far in advance of the masses...



This is what the free t-shirt looked like...with a #GoBears on the back.


I was pleased to see Athletic Director Sandy Barbour so accessible and talking with Cal fans.



The atmosphere was GREAT and FULL of Cal spirit!

This particular Cal Football roadtrip (and this Cal Athletics party) really seemed to gather many of Cal's biggest fans and legends. I got to hear the Phoenix Five's story told to me by one of its original members. I believe he goes by "Mr. Orange."


I also got to meet Steve Bartkowski, famous Cal, Falcons, and Rams quarterback.


Cal fans were also inclusive of other fans...though we did sing "Lady in Red" to her...


Touring the campus at night, we headed to their main library's 11th floor and saw these fields in the distance. Apparently, the Ohio State University Marching Band rehearses on the far field, where they have a permanent tower and PA system.


We also saw this music on the floor of their library. We were told it is "Carmen Ohio," the school's alma mater. Question: Are the notes to any Cal songs displayed prominently anywhere on the Berkeley campus?


Toto, we're not in Berkeley any more...


The Cal Band usually performs its pre-game concert 90 minutes before kickoff on Sproul Plaza. TBDBITL's "Skull Session" takes place in St. John Arena, just a few minutes' walk north of Ohio Stadium.






I understand it's quite the honor to be the high school band chosen to warm the crowd up for TBDBITL. This one wasn't bad at all.




The crowd anticipates the arrival and entry of TBDBITL. Here's a video I shot of them entering. As soon as they entered, I couldn't help but notice the snappiness of their marching...the precision of their ranks and files. Sure, it wasn't high step as the Cal Band performs it or "military step," but it was uniform and clean.

While the band settles into their seats and concert formation, different sections play quick "cheers."







These guys march fourteen snare drums...and they sound good. Have a listen...notice that there are no woodwinds...only brass and percussion.

They sure do love their "Hang On Sloopy" around here...

Their acapella choir was the type that gave me "Hunt for Red October" chills...

Listen to TBDBITL's rendition of "Fight for California," starting at 1:10. Classy...

I was told the "Script Ohio" (and yes, that's almost certainly where we got our "Script Cal" from) is one of the most cherished traditions of TBDBITL (if not the most cherished one). The honor of "dotting the i" belongs to senior sousaphone players. Here, we see part of that ritual where the dotter bows to "both sides of the stadium." Also notice the hat salute, eerily similar to the Cal Band's hat salute.

An excerpt from their "To Boldly Go" halftime show: The Planets: Mars: Holst, arranged by Swearingen.

Recognizing special guests, including arranger Jim Swearingen (whose arrangements most American high school students have played).








Though the Skull Session was quite entertaining and impressive, we had to leave halfway through it to catch the end of the Cal Alumni Association tailgate. Fortunately, we came in time to catch a little bit of the California Straw Hat Band and Spirit Groups.



Glad to see the Cal Drink Squad represent in Columbus!


Old Ohio Stadium surrounded by the new addition.


Walking up the stairs to the heavens the Cal seating section, we noticed that we saw TBDBITL members. Could it be? Band facilities built into the stadium? Just like the rumored Cal Band facilities that we had heard would be part of our New Memorial Stadium? More on this a little later...




Hello down below! We see you, Cal Band & Spirit Groups!


Computer-animated pennants. A nice touch I hadn't seen before. Perhaps our neighbors at Pixar in Emeryville could help us with some...


TBDBITL takes the field for their pregame show. Their flow is apparently intense for the marchers though it does not appear as intense to the audience as the Cal Band's tunnel flow. It's so impressive to see a polished band perform moves in unison while also maintaining straight lines and diagonals! Forget the football team...this band is ready for the Rose Bowl now! Still, to keep it real, I'll say I prefer our tunnel flow and Flying Wedge. Check out TBDBITL marching to "Fight for California" at 3:25 and the Script Cal at 4:04. Has any other band done that for us...ever?

Notice the similar "Concentric Rectangles" formation that TBDBITL forms at 0:22 before going into their Script Ohio. The Drum Major leads the formation...notice the double pass-through...the first one at 1:38 and the second one at 2:08. Gutsy! The Drum Major leads the strutting sousaphone to dot the I at about 3:13. Hat salute at about 3:57. At about 5:27, you see the band playing their alma mater, "Carmen Ohio," and you hear the stadium singing along. They brilliantly display the words to the song for all to see. I wish this were the case at Cal games. A seemingly simple action that could greatly increase knowledge and practice of Cal traditions for all.

Their football team rallied in front of its student section before taking the field. I wish our team showed more unity with our students like this.







A strip of blue in a sea of red...




The victorious Cal Men's Rugby team seemed to be enjoying the game.


Coach Bobby Knight was recognized for lifetime achievement.


Halftime show "To Boldly Go." Space shuttle blasts off at 1:25!

Okeydoke, band nerds and trekkers, how much do you love the USS Enterprise?


John Herschel Glenn, Jr., the first American to orbit the Earth, but more importantly, one of a select few non-TBDBITL ever selected to dot the I in the Script Ohio (September 5th, 2009). Pictured here with his wife.




Script America.



TBDBITL is selling CDs and Script Ohio license plates. Hopefully their athletic department did not charge them for this ad. I look forward to the day I can purchase and use a Cal Band license plate with a Script Cal. Does the Cal Band have similar fundraisers that could be advertised at Cal games?


How kind of TBDBITL to swing by and perform for us during the 3rd quarter.



I'm so glad Cal Athletics kept the Cal Student Section on the 50-yard line and the Cal Band nearby at the New Memorial Stadium.


We later got to meet Jonathan Waters, Interim Director of Marching & Athletic Bands at tOSU. Seems like a class act through and through.




Subtracting Brendan Bigelow's 81-yard run, that would give 55 yards in 30 carries...averaging less than 2 yards per carry...



The score was tied, but it looked like we were winning by far on paper...moral victory #47. ;)


Dear Cal Athletics, please never have puppets on display like this at Memorial Stadium. K, thx, bye. :)


Their football team joins their band and student section for the alma mater after the game. Classy. Cohesive. I wish I saw this at Cal.


Cal Band Basses strut at Ohio Stadium. Historic.

The lone tenor drummer, waiting for the rest of the block to march out of the stadium.



"Fight for California" begins at about 0:30.

"Hang On Sloopy" postgame marching.

TBDBITL Ohio State University Marching Band marches out of Ohio Stadium, picking up their lone tenor drummer. They play the "Ohio" cadence, (as it's called by Cal Percussion, but apparently called "Zero" by tOSU). Listen for its start around 1:42.

Nope, no AMAZING view of the San Francisco Bay or Golden Gate Bridge from this stadium...


After the game, we were fortunate to meet some kind TBDBITL members that obliged us for photos. I love the similarities that have endured with the Cal Band uniform over the last 60 years.



Stick around to the end. You just might see this again (hint, hint).


The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Band Center (a.k.a. Marching Band Heaven): the most impressive marching band facilities I have ever seen. The Assistant Drum Major was kind enough to show us all around. Suffice it to say, the Cal Band's facilities come nowhere even close.



TBDBITL paintings adorn the walls of the stairs into the Band Center. This is a temple of marching band greatness.




Enter the foyer, or, a shrine to TBDBITL history and traditions. I sure wish the Cal Band had this when I was in it. Seeing such historic artifacts, displayed neatly and orderly, would have been a powerful daily reminder of the proud and long tradition we were entrusted with carrying on.





Their band rehearsal room, which fits the entire TBDBITL at one time. Notice the recording microphones hanging from the ceiling. They have full audio-visual capabilities in this room, including the ability to watch video of their own marching to improve individually.


Hey Cal Bandsmen, does this look familiar? ;)


This is the Director's podium and control booth.


Notice the photo studio in the back corner for portraits of all band members.


Notice the rack of drums and cymbals that they bring out for halftime shows (like drum corps).



Donors can "buy a spot" in the commemorative band block to show their support for the band. I've never seen anything like this at the Cal Band.


Each band member's portrait is displayed proudly on the wall.


The winners of the band's awards are displayed prominently on the walls for all to see. I appreciate the Cal Band's awards (even though many would agree that they have been primarily popularity/political contests) and wish that we recognized and displayed our winners as publicly/prominently.


Being Drum Major of TBDBITL is a huge deal.


I'd love to see similar state-of-the-art Cal Band facilities endowed/funded by donors.


Climbing the stairs to the *second* floor of their facilities...


This band has a TRAINER'S ROOM for all the band's physical medicine and rehabilitation needs. Yes, college marching bands are athletic teams comprising student-musician-athletes. It is a physically demanding sport that incurs athletic injuries. Again, the Cal Band deserves this.


Here is the band's dedicated audio/visual editing room. It looks like they've got at least two editing bays, manned by two staff members. Though I commend the student and alumni volunteers that try to serve this purpose for the Cal Band, I understand our resources come nowhere even close.


Wouldn't it be great if the Cal Band Alumni Association had its own office/lounge like the TBDBITL Alumni Club?


TBDBITL's fraternity and sorority each get their own lounge/office.


This locker room was extremely nicer than what I remember we had to deal with in the Cal Band (which was dimly lit and dirty).



We were told the band stores about $4 million worth of instruments here. How much are the Cal Band's instruments worth? Even $1 million?


Each member must pass inspection on gameday. They are not allowed to march without looking up to snuff. Their attention to detail and uniformity shows. I have never heard of such high standards being consistently maintained at the Cal Band, especially if you look at pant lengths and spats.







The Ohio State University Marching Band looked so dang sharp. They sounded so dang crisp. Their facilities are so dang impressive. Why haven't we had that at Cal? Why can't we have that at Cal?

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not faulting/blaming the Cal Band. I've loved the Cal Band for what it has been. But I would have loved to see it better supported and equipped. I would have loved to see a higher standard of performance consistently maintained. TBDBITL is ready to march the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl right now and look fantastic in front of TV cameras and the entire nation. Are we (if our sports teams earned us that opportunity for exposure)?

We all know Cal Athletics just spent in the neighborhood of $500 million on a new stadium and High Performance Center. I had originally heard that the Cal Band was to be included in all those plans, to be a tenant of the new facilities. I haven't heard much since, and it doesn't look like the Cal Band's moving in anytime soon. I only heard that that plan would have cost $8 million that were not available. But the Cal Band has lots of friends, and given a few years, we could raise $8 million, couldn't we? What's $8 million? 1.6% of what Cal Athletics just spent? 2.7 years of Tedford's salary? The Cal Band deserves better. Let's make it happen.

Duc Bieu Pham

P.S. In case you wondered where you could donate to the Cal Band right now, you can click HERE.


See...I told you you might see it the airport. :)


The opinions expressed in a FanPost are, in every way, reflective of the opinions of every California Golden Blogs Marshawnthusiast. Moreover, they are reflective of every employee of SBNation, including Tyler "Blez" Bleszinski.

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