Officially, the Sudler Trophy is the top honor that college marching bands can earn. But any band geek would trade the Sudler for the gig that the IU Marching Hundred just landed: playing the Super Bowl.
Members of the 270-student band learned last night that they will take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium as part of the pregame show, and the drumline will return at halftime to share the stage with Madonna. The Marching Hundred staff announced the news to the band at its annual banquet in Bloomington Monday night.
“We were told by our drum line instructor, Joel Brainard, that Mr. Woodley, the director of Marching Hundred, had a surprise for us,” says snare drummer Evan Berry, a sophomore from Lake Zurich, Ill. “There has been talk about the drumline getting new drums, so we were all expecting something like that.”
The NFL contacted Dave Woodley last week to offer the band a spot in the show. Woodley says he and his staff hadn't even considered that there could be an opportunity for a marching band to perform at the Super Bowl. "It came out of the blue, and we’re all just really shocked and excited," Woodley says. He believes the band's performances at recent Colts games opened this door. "The Halftime Show producer had talked to the Colts. That's probably where he got our name."
As Woodley began to make an announcement to the band last night, senior Kasey Cornwell from Paoli, Ind., expected that the band had been invited to “play at some random bowl game.” Then the director said that he had “called up his friend Madonna—and everyone was like, ‘She’s performing at the halftime show.' We thought it was a joke because our director is really sarcastic,” Cornwell says.
Though the Marching Hundred has performed at presidential inauguration parades and the Rose Bowl since its inception in 1896, Woodley says the Super Bowl will be a new high note in its history—even if the performance isn't televised. "There is a five- or six-minute block when the networks break away for news," Woodley says. "Mainly we are hired to entertaining the crowd while the networks don’t have anything going on at the game." He added that short segments of the performance might make it on the air.
However, the Marching Hundred drumline is guaranteed some of the spotlight. It will join other drummers—from around the state, Woodley believes—for a large drumline that will perform with Madonna. “It will probably take a few days to sink in for real, but as of now, I'm stoked,” Berry says. “Playing on national television will not only allow the drumline and band to show off all we've been working on this semester, but also it serves as a great recruitment tool.”
As far as the Sudler Trophy—well, the IU Marching Hundred won that in 2007.
Click here to watch the 2011 IU Marching Hundred’s regular halftime show.
Photo courtesy of Evan Berry