Monday, April 30, 2007

The Vault: Super Bowl VII (1973)

In The Vault, we at the HSR take a look at an old MMB performance or an old Michigan game of some sort. Our first installment is conveniently archived on YouTube, and it's the band's halftime performance at the '73 Super Bowl.

In 1973, a scaled-down block of the Michigan Marching Band became the first Big Ten band to play in a Super Bowl halftime show. They traveled west to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the glory that was Super Bowl VII, where the Miami Dolphins capped their undefeated season by taking down the Washington Redskins, 14-7. The '72-'73 band was the second to be conducted by George Cavendar and his first after assuming the title Director of Bands for the whole university, so we're talking about the immediate post-Revelli period.

The first clip looks like a standard college halftime, just with celebrity guest Woody Herman in all his '70's California glory, trying to see if America is ready for an ensemble composed of nothing but lapels and those sunglasses your grandpa down in Florida still wears. He plays all of five notes on his clarinet before breaking out the soprano sax for the next tune, but everyone (i.e. anybody who know who Woody Herman is) is just waiting for him to go back to clarinet for "Woodchopper's Ball".

And things have taken a turn. There are golf carts disguised as motorized helmets roaming the field, there are golf carts roaming the field. And each one comes equipped with its own girl in knee-high boots and geographically-appropriate sash, like they're all pageant queens. I have this nasty feeling that not all of them are fans of the teams they're representing. I'm just sayin', Miss Green Bay and Miss Oakland might be ringers.

The band sounds great, but the drill formations of the day look a lot like an 8-year-old's stick figure drawings. And, hey! Flip folders. The Latin tune is kind of random, but the MMB always sounds at its best on these.

The hell? Suddenly we have a very random, very WHITE choir on a very fast take of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", which really isn't nearly as gung-ho patriotic as the NFL would like us to believe. The choir sounds like someone set the record player to the wrong speed. Stock footage! WOOO!, no, no. I will not accept this. The cheese factor was really high already, but a caricature of a 747 being CARRIED AROUND BY RANDOM DUDES does NOT belong anywhere near the MMB. This is ridiculously stupid. I hate you, 1970's. Dear God, the visual metaphor of the plane stopping in different cities and triggering the most obvious's like a Looney Toons cue, but we're supposed to take it seriously. And this choir is still moronic. They sound lobotomized.

A historical note: A map of the continental US is part of the standard marching band repertoire, reserved for any patriotic tune the band plays when they haven't formed an eagle or a flag or George Washington's head. Nobody's ever really sure what to do about the Upper Peninsula, and sometimes it just disappears altogether. The same problem crops up with the Boundary Waters area in Minnesota. Also, continental drift has drastically reshaped Florida from how it's depicted here. The last time the MMB broke out the this formation was for the 9/11 anniversary show last year, but a fake Boeing zooming around the country was deemed unacceptable for obvious reasons (Someone remembered how dumb it looked in this video).

ANDY WILLIAMS! You should probably watch out for Claudine Longet, Andy, out on that platform. on, Ms. Longet. "Marmalade, Molasses, and Honey" sucks, and all Andy can do is think, "God, I'm good." OH, PLEASE, DO IT NOW. "People...people who need people"...may need to be removed from my presence before I do them grievous bodily harm. WHY WON'T THIS END? Every time I see a bird release, I think of those doves getting cooked in the Olympic cauldron. Yeesh. Andy's really stretching for it on that last note. And...we're out.

The whole production is pure, unbridled, Grade-A 1973 crap. At the same time, the band sounds terrific. The percussion is muddy in the first clip, but everything else tells you that the Cavendar disciples aren't entirely full of it when they talk about how good they were. Don't ever let them know I said that. At the same time, high step at these tempos looks goofy and half of the drill formations are dorktastic.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

WTI: The Triumvirate Convenes

Craig:  Game on...
Geoff:  And so we begin another edition of WTI, joined for the first time by Jeremy.
Jeremy:  Greetings
Geoff:  So with the three major sports' seasons being over, the news coming out of Ann Arbor has been scattershot.
Jeremy:  It's all gone downhill since Branch declared for the draft.
Craig:  Yes, but congrats to the baseball team for making the Top 25 with a ping
Geoff:  We've also got new facilities proposed for football, a lawsuit, various basketball dramatics... How about we start with the football program, since we haven't said much about that in a while?
Craig:  Agreed, even if we're just talking about Practice
Geoff:  It's a good thing Iverson isn't here.
Jeremy:  Just practice.
Geoff:  The new proposed indoor practice facility (which I promise I'll try not to always refer to as "Noosterbaan") will cost $26.1M.
Geoff:  And it's a clear symptom of the facilities arms race.
Craig:  Which leads to all sorts of further questions
Jeremy:  We can't have a practice facility gap!
Craig:  This will lead to a facilities U2 incident and a facilities Bay of Pigs fiasco and a facilities Fall Out Boy song. The last being the most dangerous
Geoff:  I think we can get by on being Michigan for a while, but you either jump in with both feet or become a second-class program in the long run. Which is pretty depressing when you're talking about college athletics.
Craig:  It really does. At some point, someone has to stand up and say no, and I don't know who will do it
Geoff:  It should be the NCAA, but they're gutless.
Jeremy:  They're saying it would go up "where an outdoor facility exists." So it's just a $26 million roof?
Craig:  And walls
Geoff:  And 2,000 seats is the rumor coming out of Maize n Brew.
Craig:  Hell, you could make a lacrosse facility out of that
Geoff:  Dave over there thinks that's a big part of the equation. The new fieldhouse means you can always guarantee the football team a place to practice, so lacrosse/everyone else can use the vacant one. I think Lloyd is just going to be really happy to finally hold all practices inside a fortress.
Craig:  Well, have you ever looked at the wall around the outdoor facility?
Geoff:  I remember a Daily column when I was in school where the writer was watching from his roof across State Street and within a few days had representatives from the Athletic Department pay him a call.
Jeremy:  It's not very high. I've heard someone -- yeah, you just said that.
Geoff:  Lloyd's just looking to close that loophole.
Craig:  True story: My sister when she was 14 was once practicing at UM's soccer field and my dad and one of my sister's friend's dad were just sort of standing at the top of the bleachers, looked over for five minutes and had a representative come over, 20 minutes after they stopped, politely requesting that they never do it again lest they call the police for trespassing. Which is very interesting, since it's all public ground
Geoff:  Craig, our friend Joe put it best when contrasting it with USC's open practices. Paraphrasing, "Why bother? Like Michigan's going to run a play no one's seen before?"
Jeremy:  A punt formation, maybe. Can we still joke about that?
Geoff:  Too soon! I kid, I kid. That was so weird.
Craig:  Is that three personal protectors?
Jeremy:  It's an open wound unless/until we beat Oregon this year.
Geoff:  OK, so the other piece of football news is the lawsuit brought on behalf of the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America, charging that the stadium renovation plans are not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. As usual, Brian's got the full breakdown of all of this, but the long and the short of it is...they definitely have a case.
Craig:  This is a lot of very interesting stuff, and while I don't have a strong feeling, I would like to see Michigan be compliant.
Geoff:  Running the numbers, I don't see how they could be, unless they get creative with their definitions, maybe saying that the skyboxes constitute new buildings and, hey, they've got plenty of wheelchair-accessible seating in those. Which seems a little chintzy to me.
Jeremy:  Someone pointed out the number of handicapped-accessible tickets actually issued is far less than the number of [seats] required for ADA compliance.
Geoff:  Yeah, I saw that there are only 52 season ticket holders needing them and full ADA compliance for the whole stadium would require 1,000 seats.
Craig:  But by the same token, are there people who would want them, but know they are bad seats?
Geoff:  There are currently 100 available in the endzones. So, they do kind of suck.
Geoff:  It would take a monstrous investment to put wheelchair-accessible seating on the 50 in row 20.
Craig:  Yes, you know that crazy missing section at Comerica. That kind of thing
Geoff:  Realistically, wheelchair-accessible seating can only be put in at ground level, which is Row 72.
Jeremy:  My grandma had one this year. Her biggest complaint was the foot traffic walking in front of her all the time, since that's the ground level entrance and there's a balcony-like area for wheelchair access.
Craig:  Yeah, that would kind of suck.
Jeremy:  In any case, while pursuing ADA compliance is a noble goal, it's not like there's a queue of people on five-year waiting lists for the tickets (or being forced to sit in 'regular' seats). It sounds like a disingenuous prop that the anti-luxury-box types are just throwing in the path.
Craig:  That's what really bothers me (and Brian hit upon this) the two things are becoming intertwined in a way that makes me sick.
Geoff:  Let's talk about the real issue behind this. The cost of devoting 1000 seats to handicapped patrons isn't a matter of installation fees. The cost comes because the seating areas for them have to be bigger. If each handicapped seat is equal to 2 regular seats, that's $60,000 lost by the athletic department [per game].
Geoff:  This is way too frustrating, because there has to be a way to have the stadium set up for a maximum of 1000 disabled visitors, but be able to convert the empty spots to regular seating if they don't fill up.
Geoff:  If you have only 52 who need the ADA-mandated seats, you should be able to sell the remaining 1900 equivalent seats to people who can pack the stadium.
Craig:  You know Geoff... When I went to the Tigers playoff game last year, we did just that, sat in seats set aside for disabled guests that weren't needed. So it can be done.
Geoff:  I think we should move on to basketball now. The Alex Legion saga has twisted and turned for some time now, just when it seemed Beilein was going to be able to keep the recruiting class intact.
Jeremy:  I don't think the loss of Legion would be devastating
Geoff:  It probably wouldn't.
Craig:  I just think the whole mom vs. Godfather angle thing is fascinating
Geoff:  It's very, very weird. Even though he's got a shot at playing college ball anywhere he cares to and maybe making the Association, I can't say I envy Alex Legion at this moment.
Jeremy:  The more damaging aspect would be be the public perception of Beilein and that he lost Tommy's guys
Craig:  Yeah, but as more of this comes out, I don't know how much of this falls on Beilein.
Geoff:  Yeah, that's where it's at. You don't want to give the Terry Fosters of this world any ammo.
Geoff:  The Reed Baker situation has quietly gotten strange, too. I guess Beilein has declined to drop a scholarship on him.
Craig:  Which is weird, because you would think that Baker would fit perfectly in the system
Geoff:  Do you think if Legion decommits that Reed Baker, Rainmaker gets to use that vacant slot? Or is he gone no matter what?
Craig:  I don't know, because it seems like we actually have extra scholarships, or is that presuming Legion does not sign
Jeremy:  He would've fit well into the system, with K'Len Morris coming back, and Smith and Baker as good shooters
Geoff:  I want to see what this walk-on from Alpena's going to be like. I saw him [Eric Puls] on some highlight reels on the local news when I was up skiing this winter.
Geoff:  Final item: Kevin Porter has been named the captain of the hockey team for next year.
Craig:  Northville represent!
Geoff:  Hopefully this means he'll be sticking around.
Jeremy:  it didn't keep Tambellini around.
Geoff:  You have a point.
Geoff:  I wonder why Red starting naming his captains and not allowing them to vote like they used to?
Craig:  So he didn't have to tamper with the voting like Herb Brooks
Jeremy:  So is the opposite of Schadenfreude the feeling you get watching MSU score the GWG with 18 seconds left on the one year we manage to beat them?
Craig:  Yes, yes it is
Geoff:  You're right on the mark there.
Craig:  Hockey Christmas became Hockey Passover (TM M. Coen)
Geoff:  As the firstborn male child in my family, that's an apt metaphor.
Jeremy:  Their last loss of the season was to us, in fact.
Jeremy:  In 1998, MSU had a 5-0 record against UM, and we lost in the CCHA semis, then went on to win the national championship. Apr 19 10:45 PM
Geoff:  Whoa. Freaky.
Jeremy:  So, bring back the 12-team tournament, and convince Michigan players to actually stay for 4 years.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

WTI: Schadenfreude Is the Best Kind of Freude

Geoff:  The big news this week (other than the awesome return of 30 Rock and The Office) is the John Beilein hire as men's basketball coach.
Craig:  And while the former was most excellent (as was the news of 30 Rock's renewal), the latter is exceptionally of interest to the readership.
Geoff:  Frankly, I was surprised by the hire, even as it became more obvious that Beilein was the target. He was one of the best available, sure, but I didn't think the checkbook was going to be pried so far open.
Craig:  And let's compliment everyone on the fast, clean, and crisp way this was done
Craig:  The story seems to be one meeting between Martin and Beilein in Atlanta, and a lot of trust on both sides.
Geoff:  Both sides have said all the right things, that's for sure.
Geoff:  And I'm incredibly relieved not to have the sort of mess they're dealing with at Arkansas.
Craig:  Yes, that is a mess beyond mess down there. But I like the way that Beilein introduced himself yesterday, and he's already working the media. For instance, he slated to be on Jim Rome tomorrow. I am not an avid Rome listener, but I don't ever remember TA being on Rome.
Geoff:  Tommy had a way of ducking the media.
Craig:  And I realize that Beilein is a story of the week with the hire, but I am hoping this bodes well for the sense of I want to talk Michigan basketball and I want to get people interested. But I also think he knows that winning will be the surest way to do that.
Geoff:  I think the questions around Beilein aren't so much whether he's a good coach, but whether he's an elite coach.
Craig:  I am wondering if Michigan needs an elite coach. Right now, I would settle for a good coach who runs a good program, a clean program, and someone who seems to be able to adjust in game and get the most out of his players.
Geoff:  I agree that's what Michigan needs now. I see Beilein putting us in the NCAA Tournament within a couple years, no matter what. The question is whether we're getting to the Final Four down the road.
Craig:  And I guess that is the major question. But right now, isn't it one step at a time?
Geoff:  I think I really like Beilein for the coming year. He's proven that he really does get everything out of his players and they take a disciplined approach to the game. That'll cover up for a younger team that doesn't have all the parts.
Geoff:  The Big Ten's going to be super weird next season. A lot depends on who sticks around at Ohio State, but Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan all picked up solid to legendary coaching hires.
Craig:  Indeed, which brings me to another question, if I may.
Craig:  One of the big rumors of the day is with Billy Donovan staying at Florida (and congrats to our new Gator overlords. Anyone who beats tOSU like that twice in a title game in a span of 14 weeks...), one of the big names being floated for Kentucky is Tom Izzo.
Craig:  My question is: Wouldn't Izzo be crazy to leave East Lansing?
Geoff:  He'd be insane. He's a god over there. Their fanbase is crazy for basketball. Kentucky's just crazy.
Craig:  Heck, when he suggested HE should coach the football team, we can't be sure if he was serious, but he's well enough thought of up in EL that people began the "Hmmm...that could work" conversation.
Geoff:  There's always the theory he's using it as a contract ploy.
Craig:  Could be, could be.
Geoff:  Moving on. There was the late unpleasantness in Denver.
Craig:  Yes, yes there was.
Craig:  It was the worst Christmas ever
Craig:  I just wandered around with my head down and hearing the soft piano of "Christmas Time is Here" playing in the background I was so distraught.
Craig:  What really bothers me is that Michigan got four goals in the first minutes of periods and still lost by THREE GOALS!
Geoff:  Yeah. The mind, it boggles.
Geoff:  I don't like the inflexibility of the seedings when we get into the tournament. We weren't totally screwed by it, since we were a 2 seed, but Minnesota really took it in the teeth.
Craig:  Which raises an interesting question: Should the committee have more latitude in adjusting the brackets? Michigan State's 3 was far more advantageous than Michigan's 2, because they were in GR and we were in Denver.
Geoff:  The committee has really abdicated responsibility for the seeding by going strictly by PairWise. They can throw up their hands and say, "Hey, that's how the PairWise broke." I think maybe a system where the PairWise (or better yet, the KRACH) determines the field, but the committee can massage the seedings.
Craig:  But here's the thing, weren't Michigan, Michigan State, and the Sioux all tied?!?
Geoff:  According to the PairWise, maybe. But anyone who looked at the teams over the past couple months could tell who was playing the best hockey.
Craig:  The basketball committee seems to live with the notion that people won't be happy with their decisions, but isn't having the best tournament possible the ultimate goal.
Geoff:  Finally: Hobey Baker.
Craig:  Yes, what the heck is up with the Hobey?
Geoff:  What kind of idiot planet do we live on where the nation's leading scorer, playing in a very good conference, doesn't make the final three?
Geoff:  I give up. I'm throwing in the towel on this stupid end of a season.
Craig:  Agreed. Hope springs eternal, come October. We'll miss you JMFJ, but we must begin again.
Geoff:  This has been such a year of coming close but never getting to the top, in football, in hockey, even a little bit in basketball, being a game or two out of the tournament. The Tigers get to the World Series, the Pistons to the conference finals.
Craig:  We have our final: BC wins in a crazy finish, living to play Michigan State...
Geoff:  Dear North Dakota: HA. HA. Schadenfreude is the best kind of freude.
Craig:  Indeed...And if there's one thing that some NoDak fans know, it's German.
Geoff:  So we have our final set, MSU vs. BC.
Craig:  Indeed...Go Eagles?!?
Geoff:  I can't root against the Spartans, due to other family loyalties. But I'm not rooting for them either.
Geoff:  BC's the better team, I'd say, but don't look past the Spartans. It's just one game, and anything can happen if Lerg's having a good day.
Craig:  It sometimes is just all about goaltending. We should know.
Geoff:  So, that about wraps things up for this week.
Craig:  Indeed. Good work Geoff, I hope that the sleeker WTI is more enjoyable to our readers.
Geoff:  Join us next time on WTI for...who knows what, really. Later, everyone.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An uninformed analysis of MMB director candidates

The search for the next Michigan Marching Band director has been narrowed down to three finalists. Below is the text of the e-mail describing the candidates and the dates of their 'audition' in front of the students, as sent by Prof. Haithcock to students on 3/27.
Monday, April 9: Isaiah Odajima is currently assistant director of the Michigan State Marching Band. When you look past the color green and the MSU connection, you will remember his drill designs (think Homer's head). Numerous video submissions of marching shows from other applicants utilized his designs and he is viewed as one of the most creative experts in drill writing in the country. He knows the expectations and potential of major college athletic bands, including the MMB. Rivalry aside, MSU is a great collegiate marching band. Mr. Odajima went to MSU to work as an assistant director while working on his doctorate (which you can't do at UM). He is too smart to mingle traditions or make changes that you should fear. He is an excellent musician whom I have known for a decade as he studied with me while obtaining his masters degree at Baylor University. His personality is warm and engaging. He is married and has a four year old son.

Thursday, April 12: Scott Boerma is currently director of bands at Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Boerma is as nationally known in arranging as Prof. Nix and his arrangements were as equally present in the submissions of other applicants as Mr. Odajima's drill writing. He taught high school for many years and his work with the Madison Scouts was behind much of their musical success. He is a Michigan native who is known by every high school band director in the state. While EMU is in the MAC, the quality of his work both on that campus and through his national visibility makes him a strong candidate. Composition is something Mr. Boerma is increasingly interested in as he expands his creative horizons. If you have met him at an MMB rehearsal, you know he is very gregarious and outgoing. He and his wife Amy already live near Ann Arbor.

Monday, April 16: Craig Cornish is director of the marching band at Middle Tennessee State University, a position he has held since 2002. Prior to locating at MTSU, Mr. Cornish conducted the marching band at Nebraska for four years. Moving from Nebraska to MTSU appears an odd transition until you realize that Mr. Cornish left Nebraska of his own accord due the pitiful salary afforded him by the athletic department at that institution. One reference at Nebraska told me "our athletic director at the time paid Craig less than he paid the kids who pick up the towels the players drop." This is not an issue at UM as the salary for this position is both an endowed chair and supervised by the Dean of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. Mr. Cornish taught public school music in Kentucky for fifteen years and his ensembles had outstanding success. He has won university wide teaching awards at both Nebraska and MTSU. His references suggest, "students will love his warmth and enthusiasm, plus he really knows how to motivate students to do better than their best." His resume shows the quality of his work in both drill design and arranging. In addition, the size and quality of the MTSU marching band is major even if the athletic conference is minor. Mr. Cornish would view this job as a "destination" job.
The candidates will be subjected to a rigorous interview process. This includes a "leadership forum" meeting with drum major, rank and section leader candidates, a teaching session with available students, an open forum for all students to ask questions, a time to fill out evaluations, and individual or small group meeting times. Additionally, each candidate will have to meet with the search committee, the dean of the School of Music, two meetings with Prof. Haithcock, several with the MMB staff, and a presentation to music students.

[edit: content deleted, 1984 big-brother style, because it's not worth having it up.]

But there we have it. Directors from MSU via Texas, MTSU via Nebraska, and EMU via Novi. A decision will be announced at the beginning of June.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Breaking: John Beilein Is The Next M Basketball Coach

It's lighting up all over the place, but multiple sources have John Beilein, late of West Virginia, accepting the job as Michigan's next men's basketball coach. Brian's been on top of this all day, and now CBS Sportsline has it too. I think it's gotta be a done deal by now, and I can only hope for the best for Beilein and our program.