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Off Beat Empire: Those who Stay...

Congrats to the Illini, Hoosiers, and Gophers

Football - NCAA Rose Bowl - Illinois vs. USC
OK, it’s maybe not quite that good...
Photo by Kevin Reece /Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

First and foremost, I want to apologize for not posting anything last week. Given how the schedule worked out for a light day of conference play, there was only video available from two groups and I figured I would save those shows for another day.

Second, I wanted to take a moment and congratulate not one or two, but really three bands that are about to have an experience that they haven’t had in a while. Let’s face it, we have our share of conference cellar dwellers, and even in an era of 10+ conference bowl games, there are still a few elite schools who have somehow managed to dodge post-season travel for an extended period of time. As somebody who joined NUMB before the end of the dark ages, I can tell you that going years playing in the group only to see your team lose more often-than-not is incredibly disheartening. As you suffer more-and-more losing seasons, the thought of being able to travel someplace warm over the holidays takes on a near-mythical appeal. Now, I realize that Northwestern was unique in that our gap was 47 years before we went (I doubt even Rutgers will ever taste one quarter of that futility), and that it was the freakin’ Rose Bowl that came a’-calling after that gap. Still, the year before we were dreaming about the opportunity to go anywhere (before Dennis Lundy started throwing games) and as a long-starving member of the band, you just had to question and wonder if it would ever be your turn to have that experience.

Well, it’s Illinois’ time now. The Juniors and Seniors who have never experienced football after the start of December now have their chance to enjoy a well-earned vacation, someplace potentially warm (at least warmer than Chicago, which was 8 degrees this morning - maybe not if they do the Pinstripe, but hey... it’s NYC!). I’m sure there are a few Seniors on the Hoosiers Marching Hundred who remember their trip to Santa Clara in 2016, but i) it’s still been a while and ii) I get the impression that the Hoosiers are going to enjoy a Bowl with a bit more prestige this year. Finally, I know that the Marching Gophers have experienced the joy of the day after Christmas in Detroit in 2018, and a few folks might even remember the 2016 trip out to San Diego, but barring some sort of strange collapse, the Gophers should be experiencing warmth on New Year’s Day, either in Florida or on the West Coast. For members of some of the B1G’s longest suffering ensembles, this year should add a few special memories to make all the continued hard work of the seniors worth it. Congratulations to all.

So who does that leave as the longest suffering bands in the conference? OK, Rutgers is an easy guess and you’re right (2014) and Maryland would be a lot of people’s second guess as well (2016), but tied for Maryland barring a surprise (but not impossible) finish to the season will be the ‘Huskers. Who would have thought five years ago... that the ‘Huskers would potentially start the 2020 season with an entire Senior class without Bowl experience... the first time since 1962?

Anyway, congrats to the Marching Illini, Hoosiers, and Gophers. I hope that you enjoy a real special trip.


Nebraska’s class of 2020 potentially having no prior Bowl experience?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Hey, the season isn’t over yet (Go Big Red)
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    Maybe this year is rough, but Scott Frost is taking us to the promised land next year... you’ll see (more realistic Go Big Red)
    (8 votes)
  • 76%
    (62 votes)
  • 11%
    Sigh... I’m still jealous (Rutgers)
    (9 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now


Allright, it’s that time of year where I just really don’t have much to say, because you’re about to get a steady dose of the same thing over... and over... and over again.

Win, Place, Show, and Honorable Mention...


(More specifically, veterans)

Lot’s of patriotism on display this week. Unless otherwise stated, description of the show gives you shapes made for “Salute to the Services”

Michigan State and Illinois (Nov. 9th)

Always nice to see a combined performance. No “Salute to the Services” and a little Stevie Wonder and Blues Brothers, but a big “Stars and Stripes” and plenty of other patriotic themed tunes as well.

Illinois (Nov. 2nd)

Army Tank (why doesn’t the artillery ever get any credit anymore?), USMC Eagle, Navy Aircraft Carrier, Air Force Jet, and Coast Guard Boat. Also, Dad’s Day (with the chicken dance) and other patriotic tunes.

Minnesota (Nov. 9th)

Coast Guard Helicopter, Air Force Jet, Navy Aircraft Carrier, USMC Eagle, and Army Tank. Also, Sousa Marches and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

Wisconsin (Nov. 9th)

“USCG”, Jet, Anchor, Eagle, and Tank.... WAIT!!!!!! HOLY S@#T!!!!! Ladies and Gentlemen... stop the presses!!! WISCONSIN JUST DID SHAPES!!! REAL, HONEST TO GOODNESS SHAPES!!! Some even had a little bit of a curve to them! Wow... I never thought I would see this day come. I’m so proud of them.

Nebraska (Oct. 26th)

OK, just a snippet of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but there’s so little tape on Nebraska that I post what I can.

Northwestern and Purdue Not Pictured (Nov. 9th)

I don’t have video, but I witnessed both Bands’ shows live. First, I want to thank Purdue’s band for traveling to Ryan Field. You sounded great with your version of “Boogie Woogie” and a patriotic opening. I wish you ended up enjoying your travels a little less, but it was a great day, you got to see your team win, and I hope that you enjoyed your reception from the Northwestern audience (I know that the crowd appreciated you coming). NUMB also sounded good, but pretty much did the same show as everyone above to “Salute to the Services”.

Not ‘Merica

Maryland Tribute to Chris Vadala (Nov. 2nd)

Maryland played a variety of jazz tunes in memory of a member of their faculty who passed away this year. Some nice sound throughout, but a fairly simple drill.

Northwestern Earth Wind & Fire (Oct. 26th)

I just wanted to highlight that NUMB finally posted about a half-season of video on their YouTube site. This wasn’t necessarily the best show (music got a bit sloppy at times), but it was one of the most recent examples (except for the Veteran’s Day show discussed above). This was also Homecoming with the NUMBalums.


I’m always happy to support our veterans, but I wonder what a few of the last remaining Great War vets thought in their latter years as the holiday to enjoy their unique suffering turned into a generic day for all? Sometimes I wish that Veteran’s Day would take place on a different day than Armistice Day. Anyway, thank you to all of those who served and I hope that you enjoyed your special holiday.