I don't know about you, but the bands have always been one of the things that make college football so special by what they add to the pageantry of the game. I was brought up around marching band. My brother was in band from when I was born, before he went to Marshall. He was in the band at Marshall and, as the annoying little brother, I would have to go sit with him. I even began mimicking the drum majors to the point they gave me a uniform and sent me out on the field as the band's mascot. This was my initiation into marching band.
Through my entire elementary and middle school career, I knew that when I reached high school, and then college, I would be in the marching band. Marching band was so much a part of my life that I knew that I would not attend a university that did not have a football team, strictly because they wouldn't have a marching band.
When decision time came for me, I chose the University of Mississippi. Unfortunately, between my area of study and my decision to go out-of-state, college was not exactly cheap. Thankfully, the Pride of the South marching band helped me by giving me a scholarship that would cover half of my out of state expenses, despite the fact that I wasn't even a music major and, truthfully, wasn't exactly John Coltrane on the saxophone.
I loved my time in college band. Not only did I get into every home game for free, I was able to attend two Cotton Bowls and visit some of the south's most historic football venues. Most importantly, I was able to meet lifelong friends, all of whom have become like family to me. I even remember a game against UAB where the Blazers brought a small, but vibrant pep band that showed tremendous spirit, despite the results on the field.
While it's easy to just call members "band geeks", they show up in the hot days before school started to learn shows for the games. They have to sit through every second of every home game, no matter who the opponent, what the weather, or how good or bad the team is. Despite making two Cotton Bowl trips, my senior year was a 2-10 year under Houston Nutt, where I sat through rain-soaked games where Ole Miss would lose big to LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, and even Louisiana Tech. While it wasn't the best football to watch, I was somewhat "paid" to be there, and truly enjoyed it.
For Ray Watts to end the football program and think the band would not be affected, he really is incredibly dumb. This is a band with no team. You can't put a 200 member band at a basketball game, you should barely be bigger than 30. Does he expect the band to go out to soccer games and other events on campus with no football and try to stay at the size they are currently at? This is another cost-cutting measure that is asinine and deplorable.
This will do irreparable damage to the undergraduate enrollment at UAB. Not only will some good football player out of Trussville or Hoover not be coming to UAB, but now, if there is one like me, there will be a saxophone player who knows that he can step out onto the field at Troy, South Alabama, or even Samford and keep watching his favorite sport and giving his all as a fan.
So, for the maybe the last time, let's strike up the Marching Blazer band.