IU band to drop '1st down march'

The Marching Hundred packs up for Northwestern this weekend.
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A popular chant at Indiana University football games is coming to an end.

The "1st Down March" is a 20-year tradition. Football Coach Kevin Wilson doesn't want the "Marching Hundred" to play that song when the Hoosiers are on offense.

Eyewitness News spoke with Band Director Dave Woodley Friday morning.

"They try to get to the line as quickly as possible. They do a lot of checking, a lot of play calling at the line, and it was becoming difficult for them to hear those checks and calls from the linemen and receivers with us playing. So the request was simply let's try to make the atmosphere like the Colts where Peyton Manning used to have complete control with silence in the building and they could run their offense a little bit better," said Dave Woodley, director of athletic bands at IU.

"It's one of the traditions I grew up with here. As a band, we are disappointed we don't get to do it every time, but we understand the coach is requiring it to accommodate the needs of the football team," said band member Nathan Pratt. "It gets the entire crowd on its feet."

But things have changed. The band's music is now amplified around the stadium, which makes it much louder.

"Between the amplification on the field, the hurry-up offense that we are running and the Big Ten rule against having the band play when the quarterback is under center, we have had to make an adjustment on the '1st Down March'," said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.

The Big Ten says it is not permissible to use drum rolls or beat, cymbals clashing, horn sounds or any other kind of musical instrument while play is underway in football, but there is a compromise. The band will now play the 1st down march after touchdowns and "Indiana, Our Indiana" after the extra point kick.

"The '1st Down March' keeps that going for our traditionalists, of which I am one, but keeps us in tune with the Big Ten rules," Glass said.

And now, the band is in step.

"It's a big tradition, but we will do everything we can to stand by the football team. They are our Hoosiers," said Rahul Ramesh.

"The traditionalist in me is sad that we can't continue this tradition," Woodley admitted. "But I also understand the football side. It is their game. It is their stadium. And we want them to be able to function at the highest level possible."

The Hoosiers (2-1) face the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday. Northwestern is looking to extend a perfect record, including three wins over BCS opponents.