Football in the Air….and the sound..

…Of the University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Band.

I’ve admitted before I was a marching band nerd.

Maybe its just me, but nothing spells college football to me quite like a Marching Band.

keep your hot dogs. Keep your tail gate. When I hear the drum cadence start,and the brass blare for me it is football time in Tennessee.

No university in the country can boast of a better marching band. The Pride has long been a staple of tradition and pride on the UT Campus.

The band has appeared at over 40 bowl games including the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Sun Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1998 National Championship Fiesta Bowl.

In 2007, the “Pride of the Southland” marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. The band has also represented the state of Tennessee in the last twelve consecutive Presidential inaugurations, a record unmatched by any civilian organization. Jim Boofer, WDEF

The Pride of the Southland Marching Band has been performing at halftime for over one hundred years, but has existed since 1869 when it was founded as part of the Military Department. It is one of the oldest collegiate band programs in the country.

The Pride’s famous pregame show was designed by Associate Director W.J. Julian (hired in 1961) with exclusive musical arrangements by Warren Clark and Barry McDonald. This six minute and forty-five second show has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s. It begins with a “Tennessee Waltz”, followed by, starting in the 2007 season, a march version of “Tennessee River”, then the “Alma Mater March”. As they march back playing the Alma Mater march they pay tribute to “the greatest football fans in the country” by spelling out VOLS. Then in the spirit of sportsmanship the visiting team’s fight song is played in the direction of the opposing team’s band and student section. After this, the band forms the traditional floating “U” and “T” and marches this across the majority of the field accompanied by “Rocky Top”. The pregame show continues to build in excitement as the “Power T” is formed and all the Vols fans are asked to join in the Volunteer Wave and the crowd spells out “V-O-L-S” and chant “Go Vols Go!” Then the Pride of the Southland’s Drum Major runs through the middle of this formation. The band then marches across the field until it reaches the opposite end zone. At this point, “Stars and Stripes Forever” is played and the band forms a large “USA” to the visiting sideline, then inverts the form to face the front sideline.

The Pregame Show reaches its most thrilling point with the “Opening of the T” where the football team runs through a block T on to the field and to their sideline. This is one of the most photographed moments in college football and one of the greatest traditions of the “Pride”, Tennessee football, and the University of Tennessee.

Although the T formation is used almost exclusively at Tennessee home games in Neyland Stadium, it has been done at other venues, most notably at the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowl.

Contrary to popular belief, “Rocky Top” is not Tennessee’s official fight song, although it is so closely identified with the university that many believe this to be the case. Tennessee’s official fight song is “Down the Field”. It is quite common for the band to end playing Rocky Top and the crowd to continue singing the chorus into the next play.

I challenge you to find something more entertaining, more inspiring, and with more tradition at another school for football than the University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Band.

One Response to “Football in the Air….and the sound..”

  • I also was a marching band nerd. Those were some of the best times in my life. I even left my mark, as it were, my fellow Drum Line com-padres and myself wrote a cadence called “Spider” and by the end of the century, it was being used by most local and statewide bands. Still is to this day, as far as I know, it may have even jumped state and made its way to the west coast by now.

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