Where hasn't the Michigan Marching Band been?

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on September 20th, 2017 at 10:44 AM
Interesting discussion with a current band member I had. Obviously the band goes every time on the road when we play in rivalry games and bowls, but what about other B1G road trips? Has the band ever been to Indiana? Purdue? Wisconsin etc? Guess I'm posing the question to former band members on the board.


Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 10:49 AM ^

If you go back to the beginning, I'm sure the MMB has made the clean sweep of the pre-Maryland/Rutgers/Nebraska B1G. Hell, they took the train to Minnesota in the 1930s. There's ways of figuring this out--the MMB Blue Books (basically, the records of the band from year to year) are at the Bentley.

Last trip to Wisconsin was in the 80s (which didn't go well, if the stories are true), Penn State was a one-time pep band in 2001 (would have been full band without the Cold War being held on the same day), Illinois in 2000. Pretty sure there was a Northwestern trip in the 90s. Other than that, it's mostly been MSU/OSU/ND for a very, very long time.


September 20th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

I would think 30 or so years would be enough to go back to wisconsin -- unless there is an actual rule about opposing bands not being allowed in the stadium at all or something that I don't know about -- but, since that's going to be a no, why not add penn state?  (Especially when there will be no "traditional" away trip save a bowl game in the coming years without a neutral opener / ND.)

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 11:10 AM ^

Band travel is just as much about the home team's band hosting the MMB as it is the game itself.

The Wisconsin band is... coarse, for lack of a better term. There's a history there, based on the last time the MMB went in the 80s. Everyone else has figured it out, too, which is why (IIRC) the MMB was the last band to go there for a very, very long time (and still might be). Their band administration is rough, the students are rougher. Look up why they got put on probation after the trip to A2 in 2006. It's pretty gross.

When they come to Ann Arbor, Revelli Hall goes on lockdown. They treat the MMB like crap, they've tried to steal stuff, they act like idiots. Basically, the Badger Band is the worst, and their fans aren't much better. Ergo, why no one goes there.

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 11:40 AM ^


This is basically just the tip of the iceberg.

One thing I can unequivocally say about my time in the MMB, and which is something I'm very proud of, is that the MMB does not haze or harass. At all. That kind of stuff has been long eradicated. Can't say the same thing about some of our major rivals--from the administration down to the students. (Looking at you, OSU and MSU)

Naked Bootlegger

September 20th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

Mike Leckrone has been at the helm of UW's Marching Band since the late 60's.  He's revered on campus.   I just don't get it.   That band has had a very checkered history with regards to crude behavior.  I'm not sure how the director survived the most recent incident since, well, he cultivated that environment for the past 4 decades.   Very strange.


September 20th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

I think the band really needs to start traveling more in odd numbered years. With ND off the schedule and MSU/OSU in the same year, it's kind of ridiculous we don't travel to other Big Ten members. 


Clemson's band went to Louisville this weekend and Tennessee's went to Florida, both farther trips than Ann Arbor to Penn State or Wisconsin.

PSU sent their band to the Big House in 2014 and Wisconsin sent theirs in 2016. Indiana sends their's to A2 half the time. Sometimes you hear people say that PSU/UW don't accomodate other bands, but that's not a valid excuse. Pitt's band went to Happy Valley last week. If they don't want to give our band room, we better refuse their band's entry into the Big House. Has to be reciprocal. 

No reason we can't pick at least one of PSU/IU/UW for odd numbered years. If anything, you'd think we'd have more money than these other programs, not less. Oddly though, UM seems to have one of the most travel averse bands of the major P5 programs. Hell, Texas A&M sent their band to Los Angeles for the UCLA game. 

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

If you want to throw a very, very, very large amount of money at the band to make that happen, go right ahead.

I'll also add that B1G schools are a bit stingier/hard to work with when it comes to organizing away trips. SEC bands travel all the freaking time. That doesn't really happen as much up here, whether it's distance or scheduling or logistics or some combination of the three. Purdue and Nebraska (IIRC) got in a bit of a tizzy this summer because Purdue's new AD doesn't fully understand how band travel works and told UN they couldn't come. An MMB trip to Penn State got cancelled in 2006 over logistical issues. No one goes to Wisconsin. Like, no one. They supposedly haven't had a visiting band since the 80s, for a variety of reasons...

All this stuff is weird.


September 20th, 2017 at 11:04 AM ^

Again, this cannot be a purely financial limitation. That's not a valid excuse. There is no way our band program is significantly poorer than the rest of the country when we have close to the biggest fanbase in America and a top 3 AD in terms of revenue.

The MMB just seems to not have interest in traveling. Indiana is a 4 hour drive away. None of the schools I mentioned require flights. That's cheap. 


Bands seem to travel to The Big House all the time. If the Badger Band or the PSU Blue Band can drive 6 hours to Ann Arbor, why can't we drive the same exact distance once every few years, especially if it's the only trip of the year. 

In 2019 the band will not travel to a single game if we follow your standards. 

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 11:15 AM ^

Have you ever actually looked at the financials? It's pretty much nothing like you think. Throwing 300 people on charter buses, possibly having to arrange hotel rooms, transporting a truck of equipment, feeding the entire lot two or three times... You think that's cheap?

Also, consider this: A trip to Ann Arbor is a marquee event for just about every school in the B1G. If you're Michigan, a trip to Bloomington, West Lafayette, Iowa City, Maryland... isn't. What Michigan fans see is usually the opposing band's one big away trip for the year. Most schools don't have two (or three) major rivals for which a trip is locked in, no matter what; a lot of schools also can't count on a bowl trip, so a trip to A2 is the reward for their students. It's not like they're going everywhere else in between.

I'd love to see the MMB travel more, but it is what it is. 


September 20th, 2017 at 11:27 AM ^

That's exactly what I think the financials are. None of those trips are far enough to justify hotel rooms, by the way. If eighth graders can bus 8-9 hours from parts of Michigan for DC trips without stopping, the MMB can do 6 hours. 

Michigan makes north of $6 million per home game from ticket sales alone and tens of millions from TV over the course of the season. Therefore, a few charter buses are EXTREMELY cheap, and please, 2-3 meals of food is nothing.

Again, not nearly a valid excuse. Especially because you seem to argue that traveling to both OSU/MSU is fine. If you had one trip in 2019 to PSU/UW, it would be less expensive than the combined costs of the 2018 trips. 


September 20th, 2017 at 11:42 AM ^

Then why was Dave Brandon involved with the Alabama game decision? Yes, it's not the same entity, but they definitely support each other across the college football world.


Again, it's not cheap in terms of being a low amount of money for ordinary people/small organizations, but U of M is not that.

And again, the main point is that we are the exception when it comes to college football, despite having far more resources as both a university overall and an athletic program specifically (not to mention, U of M students are of significantly higher SES on average than most other football schools). 


If you can present me an argument as to why we would have less ability to travel than every SEC school, Oklahoma (sent their band to Columbus, will also be traveling to Dallas, Stillwater, and possibly more), Notre Dame, USC, etc., I'd love to hear it. 

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 11:48 AM ^

1. Different bands have different budgeting priorities, different relationships with donors and their Athletic Departments, different travel challenges, etc.

2. Dallas was a special case--Michigan received money for the game much in the same way as a bowl trip, seating allotments for the band were part of the contract, etc. The same was true for this season, IIRC. These games weren't a conventional home-and-home or conference game scenario in which the MMB is on the hook. DB pulled the rug out from the MMB when it was fully understood that the Athletic Department's travel allotment would in part go to the band. In other words, a red herring for this discussion.

3. Again, if you want to donate money to get the band to travel more, go ahead and put your money where your mouth is.


September 20th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

I have donated to both the band, the University and the AD. 

Sorry, refuse to buy the argument that the MMB has some sort of structural disadvantage compared to all of these other schools across the nation.

Again, we're not talking every away game. We're talking one game a year that doesn't require flights or hotels. That's it. And that's certainly budgetable for all entities involved. 2019 is two years away, we're not talking this season. 

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 12:09 PM ^

That's great.

Listen, I'd like to see the MMB travel more. But the financials are what they are--and you don't really understand how or why those decisions are made.

If it means one less trip to Bloomington and new uniforms, or better instruments, or more need-based scholarships so that students are able to spend their time at marching band practice and not at a part-time job to pay for school, I'll take that choice every single time. And so will the MMB.

Not all bands are created equal, no two universities are the same; pointing to other schools and saying "they do it, so Michigan must be able to as well!" is simply stupid.


September 20th, 2017 at 12:22 PM ^

Listen, I get that you're defensive of the all things the band and that's great. Band members put in a ton of sacrifice and hard work, far more than nearly all other fans. 


But my position stems from being friends with band members who were a part of the MMB much more recently than yourself and have complained about the same things.

Our band is not a travel band. Obviously, it costs money to travel, but culture is definitely a significant part of that as well.

No need to follow rigid traditions forever. Things can change. A semi-annual AD donation of $50-$100k (which is next to nothing for the AD) to send the part of the band on a Big Ten trip in odd numbered years would be a great one. And would put us in line with hoards of other schools that very likely have less resources than we do. 

It's also fairly ludicrous that you're suggesting the majority of P5 bands are forgoing uniforms/equipments/scholarships to go on trips; quite the straw man there. 



September 20th, 2017 at 1:33 PM ^

He's not being defensive, Spike.  He's getting frustrated that he keeps saying the same thing and you keep arguing something else.  You talk about an AD donation.  That doesn't happen and has not happened in decades.  The MMB almost didn't go to the Orange Bowl in the mid-70s until the Detroit News ponied up enough cash to make it happen.  Even then the AD demanded that only a subset of the band go on the trip (why they thought they had a say is beyond me).  Anyhow, I can still hear Carl Grapentine announcing, "Presenting the 150 member Michigan Marching Band", as the entire band entered the field for pregame.

The School of Music provides instruments for EVERYONE.  That isn't cheap, and along with uniforms, scholarships, and facilities, a marching band is an expensive endeavor.  If you look at the 6-7 home games (some times 8), the Band-O-Rama (the biggest annual fund raiser for the Band program), 1-2 road trips a year, etc.  There isn't a lot of time to prepare additional shows for a road trip to Wisconsin.

You also argue about it not requiring a lot of time.  I call bullshit.  When we went to Wisconsin, we left on a Friday morning, performed at a Whitewater area high school (in 20 degree weather), spent the night in 160 different houses, and then attended the game in Madison (where we were pelted with bottles from the upper deck).  After the game, we bussed home where we arrived around 9AM on Sunday.  A trip to Penn State would require a similar time outlay.

Wishing to see the band on the road more is a nice concept, but it in no way jibes with any notion of reality.


September 20th, 2017 at 11:19 AM ^

playoff game trips out of it when we win the NC in 2019.

But the main issue is the other school letting the band come and either making space on the sideline or giving the band seats in the stands. And as a former band member, the only games i would have wanted to go to outside MSU/OSU/ND would be Penn State and Wisconsin they just happen to be some of the stingy ones. It is also nice to have a saturday free and get to watch the games on TV and do other stuff during the day instead of having practice most of the morning and a game all afternoon


September 20th, 2017 at 12:30 PM ^

You do it for big games that are likely to be on national TV.  Ergo, everyone sends their band to us.   However, we save the trips for the big ones--Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, etc.

Band travel is crazy expensive.  The band is larger and has more equipment than the football team.  


September 20th, 2017 at 11:32 AM ^

Bando is right in that the planning and logistics for band travel adds up and can takes months to get down. However, I was involved in a HS marching band for 4 years and learned much about the planning and costs, yet that school (which was not in a strong position financially) was still able to send a ~120 member band to a few trips around the country each year, plus the Holland marching festival. UM should be able to dwarf the resources put into their marching band (which is larger though) - it just depends on if the admistrative will is there.


September 20th, 2017 at 2:15 PM ^

Don't need to send them all, and buses are still cheaper than flights. There is nothing fundamentally preventing the travel from happening more often than it does - just a matter of priorities for the various parties. If the band wants to go to a particular game (regular season), the administration can make it happen.

Bando Calrissian

September 20th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

For away trips, the band sends no less than is required for the pregame and halftime shows. Add in support staff, a limited numbers of reserves (to do things like hold ladders, carry water jugs, fill in in case of disaster, etc.), the drum major, twirlers, the announcer (yes, Carl counts), the directors, photo and video staff... And you've got a traveling party that hovers around the 300 mark.