Tennessee’s “Pride Of The Southland Band” is one of the greatest traditions in all of college football.
The pre-game show, the playing of Rocky Top and “Down The Field”, the forming of the T, all of it is part of what makes Tennessee……well Tennessee.
On Wednesday a petition started circulating, basically saying that the band was coming under attack by Tennessee’s athletic department. Among the allegations were that the band was told not to play “Down The Field”, which is the school’s official fight song.
It was also mentioned that Tennessee’s band traveling to other venues would be heavily restricted, as well as other restrictions on when the band could play during games.
Tennessee issued an official statement on the allegations, on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s some of the high points of the statement.
The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band is a much valued and integral part of the University and the gameday experience. Their pregame and halftime performances are outstanding and are part of the fabric of our great football traditions here at Tennessee. Once the game begins, the band is essential to achieving our goal of an electric atmosphere in Neyland Stadium.
Several claims made in a petition circulated this morning have limited or no basis in fact, including the claim regarding the SEC and band travel. The visiting team still makes the decision about bringing its band to away games, and very few bands nationally bring their full band to all away games. What the SEC rule states is that the visiting band must communicate with the home team band director in order to determine if there is time for a pregame or halftime performance by the visiting band.
The claim that the band has been told never to play “Down the Field” is false.
As a clarification, the SEC provision states that the band can play in between plays, and not during plays. The band can play from the end of the preceding play until the point where the center is over the ball. The modification next year is that recorded music may be played instead of band music during those times.
Despite the heartbreaking loss to Georgia last Saturday, we had one of the best atmospheres in Neyland Stadium that we have experienced in a very long time. We applaud our coaches, student-athletes, fans, students, the band, and our marketing staff for their collective efforts that resulted in a true home-field advantage.
Several band members have come out on Twitter, and in other reports, saying that this statement directly contradicts what was told to band leader Gary Sousa.
Whether that is true or not really doesn’t matter.
Tennessee clearly responded to the claims and allegations and cleared up some confusion.
Maybe Tennessee made a mistake and they’re rectifying the situation. Or maybe this was all a big misunderstanding from the beginning.
I understand why fans were upset at the initial allegations. I was upset. I don’t want to hear pre-recorded music in between plays. I don’t want the band to quit playing “Down The Field”, or be restricted to a certain number of times that they can play Rocky Top. I definitely want to see the band on the road, it’s a small piece of home that the football program is able to bring with them.
Butch Jones has gone out of his way to embrace tradition at Tennessee. I can’t see him being on board with phasing the band out in any way.
Judging by the statement Tennessee released today, it seems like they’ve heard the fans, and more importantly the band, loud and clear.
The Pride Of The Southland Band is one of the most important components to gameday in Knoxville.
Let’s urge Tennessee to keep it that way.