Letter to the editor:
Over the last couple weeks, two finalists were announced for the position of director of The Ohio State University Marching Band. Both gentlemen are great directors and profound leaders in the marching band community, and were absolutely deserving of the opportunity to be considered for what is believed by some to be the most prestigious college marching band position in America.
After arriving on campus and being placed in front of several hundred marching band students, both men were asked, “Why do you want to be a part of The Ohio State Marching Band?” Both replied with similar answers that the OSUMB is a historically excellent program and has great resources that most bands do not have. These resources being along the lines of funding, staff, facilities, alumni and fan base support.
On the surface, it might seem like these program qualities would be enough to lure high caliber directors into the prestigious position with The Best Damn Band In The Land. However, we discovered this was not the case when both directors recently chose to drop out of consideration and remain committed to the schools they are currently serving, Auburn University and the University of Illinois. In addition, both schools might now have a new sense of dedication to their marching band programs.
So why wasn’t the OSUMB’s success and program resources enough to get either finalist to commit? Why did both directors pass up what appeared to be a clear promotion? What caused them to stay with band programs that seemingly lack in resources and national acclaim?
The answers are in their blood. Buckeyes bleed scarlet and gray. Both gentlemen carry great resumes but lack one of the most fundamental pieces of the puzzle: they aren’t Buckeyes. Both received degrees at other schools and had no inside experience with The Ohio State University. They lacked the full passion that comes along with being in TBDBITL or even a Buckeye for that matter. To better illustrate that point, I’ll give an example.
During a Q-and-A portion of one of the student meetings, a candidate was posed with the common Buckeye greeting of “O-H,” to which he replied “Come again?” not knowing how to appropriately respond.
Now I must reiterate that these two former finalists are great leaders and directors. The schools they return to are celebrating their commitment. And likewise, we should celebrate the new sense of dedication both schools now have to their marching band programs. By no means did the band expect them to fully understand all Ohio State traditions, but the example speaks to the problem at hand.
The OSUMB director position now carries a lot of baggage. Unfortunately, it is not the same position that it was before. The position now is one that will be closely monitored by the university and School of Music. To be successful, it requires a great deal of support from students and alumni of the program. The new director will be held to a higher (and almost unreasonable) new level of responsibility.
Despite all that makes the OSUMB great, it is tough to ask anyone to step into an “at-will” position with so many of these hurdles. In addition, a person new to the program would need to learn the unique and complicated band processes such as the marching style fundamentals, training and tryout procedures and even basics such as game and weekday operations. There is no wondering to why both finalists chose to turn down this position and remain in the programs they have already begun to build.
The answer to this problem is simple. The university needs to consider candidates with experience in The Ohio State Marching Band.
An alumnus or alumna of the program understands the passion and purpose that TBDBITL serves for Buckeye Nation. Someone who has been through the OSUMB program has dedicated countless hours to studying the marching fundamentals and techniques. They will have proven knowledge of the complicated OSUMB processes and will garner the support of the students and alumni.
To not consider someone because they are a true Buckeye is not only disheartening for Buckeye Nation but also disgusting evidence to the way the administration now treats the OSUMB program.
Two individuals stand out as being the best options for carrying the Ohio State Marching Band program forward: former director Jon Waters and assistant director of bands and associate director of marching and athletic bands Chris Hoch. While I won’t spend time explaining how Jon Waters should have never been removed from the position, I will say that he remains to be the best man for the job no matter what might be portrayed in the media or by the university. Moreover, Hoch is the man on the directing staff currently keeping operations afloat. Without Hoch, this past season would have involved a great deal of standstill playing on the field.
If the university has any pride in “The Pride of the Buckeyes” or any compassion for what it means to grow up as a Buckeye in the state of Ohio, they will seek to fill the directing position with someone who has already earned the honor of serving The Best Damn Band In The Land.
Former 2x Squad Leader
3x iDotter (Michigan, Wisconsin, Kent State)
Fifth-year in Electrical and Computer Engineering