ATHENS — Over the Celebration Bowl weekend, the first-ever marching band national finals will begin. T ESPN Events will join with Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge and Celebration Bowl executive director John T. Grant to host the band championships. Not only will HBCU marching bands from Division I and Division II compete throughout the season to earn the right to perform in Atlanta and compete for the coveted title of "Band of the Year," but there will also be football games and the crowning of a national champion at the Cricket Celebration Bowl.
The only thing that HBCU supporters cherish more than black college football and the pomp and circumstance of homecomings is marching bands. Some well-known HBCU marching bands include Grambling's "World Famed Tiger Marching Band," the "Mighty Marching Hornets" of Alabama State, the "Human Jukebox" of Southern University, "The Aristocrats" of Tennessee State, FAMU's "Incomparable Marching 100," and Jackson State's "Sonic Boom of the South." These HBCU marching bands are known throughout the world for their high-energy displays and arrangements both on the field and in the fans.
The rating and ranking system for the bands can be the first thing that comes to fans' minds. After the MEAC/SWAC Challenge launch news conference on Wednesday, Grant went into more detail about the procedure with the media. Similar to the College Football Playoff approach, bands will be judged by a panel of band specialists beginning at the beginning of the season, according to Grant. "The effectiveness of each week's performances is assessed. Each month, a rating will be released twice.
The committee will score each band's field performances during the season based on a number of different criteria. The four top-ranked bands, the top two from each division, will fight in Atlanta to determine the nation's champion. The rankings list will be available on ESPN. The fact that the band championships are conference-neutral should also be noted.
The judges will allocate scores based on factors such as accuracy, musicianship, creativity, your drumline, drum majors, and dance lines, according to Grant. Additionally, there will be some crossing. As a result, some Division II band directors will be judging Division I, and vice versa. Grant added that the committee will not be evaluating the stand battles, saying, "This is why you call them marching bands!"
Don Roberts, a former drum major of the Florida A&M "Marching 100" and a longtime band director at Southwest DeKalb High School in suburban Atlanta, will be in charge of the judging. Roberts also acted as the executive band consultant for the blockbuster "Drumline" and its sequel "Drumline: A New Beat" and was the band consultant for Beyonce's Coachella performance in 2018 with an HBCU theme.
This is cutting edge, according to Roberts, because there has never been an annual competition for HBCU college bands.
No matter who wins, Roberts continued, it's a "win-win" because the footage of the bands broadcast on ESPN's website would draw attention from a wide audience.
Marching bands were the most recent addition to Grant's plan to make the most of the Celebration Bowl weekend.
"How can we improve the experience for fans? How can we produce something that our audience would eagerly absorb and then regurgitate once the experiences are over? Hence, the band of the year announcement," Grant remarked. "We are aware of the three-legged nature of HBCU culture. One is football, which entails homecomings, tailgating, and other related activities. Greek organizations and their function are the other. We've just finished adding the last layer.
"This weekend is going to be nuclear. This doesn't occur around any other game, but it occurs when you think about the championship. any other bowl game played around the nation. Atlanta, in our opinion, is the ideal location for it.
The idea is that the national titles will spread, inspiring college programs to recruit the top musicians and enhancing band programs in high schools and even middle schools.
Two HBCU bands will be able to claim the title of national marching band champions in December.