We are going to mix things up a little bit this week on Bulls Recon. Instead of talking about Florida A&M football, we have Curtis from 80 Minutes Of Regulation here to talk about Florida A&M's band The Marching 100. Curtis is a USF grad and a marching band aficionado, so I don't think we could have found a better person for the job.
1. Can you give us a little history lesson on The Marching 100?
The Marching 100 as we know it today was founded by Dr. William P. Foster, who for over a half century (1946-1998) was the only director the 100 had known--think Jim Leavitt with Joe Paterno's longevity. Dr. Foster passed away about a year ago, right before the start of last football season, and it would not surprise me to see them name the field in Tallahassee after him. They have, since their founding, grown into one of the most recognizable, most revered, and most televised bands in the country, having performed at Super Bowls, inaugurations, and receiving all sorts of honors in and beyond the marching band world. Notable among the awards is the Sudler Trophy, an annual award to a college marching band that rewards excellence that any band can only win once. FAMU was the fourth winner (1985), the only HBCU to date to win, and one of only three FCS schools ever to win.
2. For those who have never seen The 100 play, what makes them so special?
The 100 are really good at what they do and just a ton of fun to watch. Their marching style is high stepping and high energy, They still have amazing sound output and tone quality for the amount of moving they do, and they're likely to play accessible music, by which I mean tunes that the crowd has likely heard before on the radio or elsewhere. I'm generalizing and oversimplifying here, but HBCU (historically black college/university) bands tend to make appealing to the audience the near-sole goal of their performance, and FAMU is at the top not only in that style, but in marching music in general.
3. Is the rivalry between FAMU and Bethune really as big as everyone says it is?
I'm not a Florida native--I only lived down there when I was attending USF--but from an outsider's perspective, it's definitely a real rivalry. The Florida Classic is where it comes to a head, annually, in Orlando, but I think the two programs stay on one another's mind all year. The thing is, it doesn't come off to me like a blood feud like an Auburn-Alabama or an Ohio State-Michigan. It's mostly good-natured, but the desire of each school to beat the other--in the tailgate lot, in football, at halftime, in the stands, in the 5th quarter, and beyond--is palpable.
That said, pro tip for the Herd of Thunder. I know I've heard them use BCU's "Let's Go Wildcats" as a stands tune during basketball; I wouldn't go there for this game.
4. Switching it to USF a little bit, what is your favorite piece that the Herd of Thunder plays?
I've always loved HOT's arrangement of Bulls on Parade, and I'm glad that it got added as a down tune. Beyond that, I love March Victorious as sort of a secondary fight song, though I hate they they've recently replaced the bridge with the first down cheer. And from my days seeing HOT on a regular basis, I remember loving Wooly Bully, not so much for the song itself, but the way they executed the horn swing during it.
5. Prediction time: Will the performances between the HOT and The Marching 100 be as lopsided as the football game on Saturday?
I don't want to give the impression for a second that the Herd of Thunder aren't very good at what they do, or that I don't unequivocally support the home band. But the battle of the bands is all about thrilling the audience, and the Marching 100 are one of the best to ever do it. So while there's no question in my mind that USF will win the football game, I'm equally certain FAMU will take halftime.
That said, my unsolicited advise for HOT: Stay in your lane. You are, at your core, a corps style band; just because an HBCU band is across the field doesn't mean you should switch your style. You do what you do quite well; stick to it.