Most of us have to watch college football on television, whether because we don’t live close enough to a major program (that’s worth paying money to see) or because tickets to the games near us are too hard to get. Fortunately, shows like ESPN’s College Gameday do a pretty good job of showing us what it’s like to actually be there. Unfortunately, we still rarely get to experience what has become one of the absolute best things about the college game: the halftime performances of the marching bands.
Not too long ago, of course, marching bands weren’t that exciting. They just marched around playing a bunch of old tunes nobody really cared about. These days it’s different. Now they play renditions of the latest pop songs, and some of the complicated marching formations they pull off are absolutely astounding.
Today, we’re celebrate marching bands—the good, the bad, and the hilarious. So take a look at these GIFs. They’re definitely worth a few minutes of your day.
This beauty hit the web a few years ago courtesy of the University of Hawaii marching band. At the time it was kind of mind-blowing, but these days it's almost rudimentary. Still, they get credit for being among the first.
23. Hawaii Kicker
Now that's some nice, legible penmanship.
And kids, in case you're wondering what "penmanship" is...oh, never mind.
22. Field Writing
It's a decent formation, but I have no idea what this big sword fight is all about.
21. Marching Battle to the Death
Most of us can neither dance nor play a musical instrument. These kids can play the tuba while demonstrating some pretty fancy footwork. That's impressive.
20. Slick Moves
The clever use of fire extinguishers really puts the finishing touches on this formation from the West Virginia Mountaineers marching band.
19. Leavin' on a Jet Plane
Sadly, sometimes marching bands are the victims of stampedes...
...and sometimes they are the ones doing the stampeding. Poor Pam Oliver has a tough job sometimes.
17. Pam in Danger
This all-time classic was from the Ohio State marching band's tribute to the Beach Boys.
It wasn't exactly the most relevant band to immortalize, but the formation was pretty spectacular.
16. The Surfer
And here is the Ohio State marching band doing a horsey. That's pretty damned impressive, even if I have no idea why they're doing a horse.
15. The Horse
Ostensibly, the Stanford marching band—which isn't really a "marching" band—is a countercultural institution that tries to ruffle the feathers of big-time college football with subversive political messages. They consider what they do "performance art." In reality, they just try to piss off as many people as possible.
14. Stanford Weirdos, Part 1
These two GIFs of the Stanford band are from the Rose Bowl. Their message always seems to be something like, "don't take all this stuff so seriously. It's just a game," which would make sense coming from a Division III marching band. But from a Division I powerhouse that churns out guys like Andrew Luck it just seems childish. (If you're critical of "the establishment," why are you part of the establishment?)
13. Stanford Weirdos, Part 2
Hey, marching bands aren't always awesome. Sometimes they suck hilariously.
This girl shouldn't feel too bad, though. And least she's not the next guy...
12. Saxophonist Down!
I remember when this one happened. The best part was that, even though he broke his trumpet, he got back up and continued the routine, pretending that he was playing. That's dedication to your team.
11. Trumpeter Down!
What happens when one member of the tuba section takes a spill? The rest of the tuba section takes a spill.
Of course, this probably wouldn't have been so funny if it were, say, the clarinets. But everyone knows tubas are the funniest instruments.
10. Tuba Section Down!
I don't know about you, but my mind is blown. In fact, I'm not even going to finish this list.
[UPDATE: my editor has informed me that I will be finishing this list.]
9. Trippy Illusion
The Ohio State marching band did a tribute to video games last year that was pretty amazeballs. Here's a snippet of their Mario Brothers segment.
8. Mario Tribute, Part 1
And here's another snippet of their Mario Brothers segment. (Note the flag that's being taken down. It's a nice touch.)
7. Mario Tribute, Part 2
Of course, they also paid tribute to seriously old-school video games like Space Invaders...which, I guess I should explain to our younger readers, was a game that people actually thought was totally amazing. (It was a simpler time.)
6. Space Invaders
Yep, it's Tetris. Who would have thought this game would still be around today...getting immortalized by a college football marching band?
And of course, no marching band tribute to video games would be complete without Pac-Man.
You kids still know Pac-Man, right? I know he's no Master Chief, but he is a ghost killing machine.
Sometimes they cut your budget, and you have to think outside the box to fill your horn section.
3. Marching Goose Band
I'm not saying I wouldn't have wanted to trip this kid. But I probably wouldn't have done it, simply because I'd have been afraid the hundreds of people all around me would see it and get me in trouble.
But who know? Maybe the applauded this guy.
2. Two Minutes for Tripping
At #1, of course, we have what has to be the greatest achievement in the history of marching bands: the Ohio State Michael Jackson moonwalk, which we told you about earlier this week. If you've seen anything more incredible than this from a marching band, by all means let us know. Until we hear from you, this is the crowned champion.
Well done, Ohio State. Well done.
1. The Moonwalk
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