Oklahoma should have no trouble with the Florida A&M Rattlers Saturday night at Owen Field, and a stable of Sooners may get in on the act to entertain fans in an expected blowout.
The Rattlers are no slouches. They have an all-time record of 567–274–23 (.670) and won the 1978 FCS national championship.
Florida A&M's best team however, will not be there to entertain us. Known as the "Marching 100," the FAMU band has been suspended following allegations of hazing leading to the death of a band member last November.
The Marching 100 was organized in 1946. William P. Foster, the band's first director, is credited with revolutionizing marching band techniques, and he also wrote a book "Band Pageantry," which is considered to be the Bible for marching bands. Four years later, the Marching 100 became the first black band to appear in the Festival of States Parade.
The band debuted on television during halftime of the NFL's pro-playoff game in 1963. The pro playoff used to slate the losers in the conference championships for "third place." The band's popularity soared that same year when Ebony magazine featured it in an article titled, "The Best Band in the Land." In 1993, Sports Illustrated named it the "Best Marching Band in the Nation."
The Marching 100 made appearances at other pro football games, including performances at five Super Bowls. It also performed at both of President Bill Clinton's inaugural parades representing the State of Florida, and again at President Obama's inaugural parade.
The band has been featured on "60 minutes," "20/20," CNN and ESPN. In 1985, the Marching 100 won the Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy presented to the best college band of a year. The Pride of Oklahoma won it two years later.
The Marching 100 also made a brief appearance in a Coca-Cola commercial, "Look Up America." The video is fuzzy, but moments after the Marching 100 appear, it looks like OU football players celebrating with the Ruf-Neks after a touchdown. The band also appeared in a Welch's Grape Soda commercial five years later.
Sadly, the band has been suspended following the death of drum major Robert Champion, whom authorities say died while being hazed by other band members. Twelve of them have been charged with homicide hazing and two faculty members have resigned from the school.
Yes, the Pride of Oklahoma and our beloved Sooner football team will entertain us Saturday night. Too bad fans won't see the Marching 100 with such impressive credentials.