ALABAMA SENDS 349 MEMBERS OF ITS “MILLION DOLLAR BAND” TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IN THE ROSE BOWL
The Crimson Tide is certainly a million dollar football team – the coach probably makes that much – but, it’s the band that gets the moniker. The University of Alabama marching band has been called the Million Dollar Band since 1922.
If W.C. “Champ” Pickens, the alumnus given credit for naming the band, learned what it cost to transport it today, he’d probably really be impressed. The band’s website tells us that the name “Million Dollar Band” was bestowed on the organization in 1922 by Pickens. He was impressed that the band raised enough money to travel from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta to play at the Georgia Tech vs. Alabama game. The band wasn’t really big then, so it probably only cost a couple of thousand dollars for the ride.
Will Gibson, son of Karen and my late nephew Jack Gibson, played drums in the Million Dollar Band up until this year. I asked him if he had any idea of what it would cost to fly today’s band to Pasadena, California for the National Championship game Thursday. He said he really didn’t know, but if we assume that the round-trip ticket is $300 per band member , we could figure that the cost would be more than $100,000. That’s just air transportation cost. You have to add the cost of ground transportation, food and hotel rooms and, well, when you consider that a number of trips are made, and the other expenses involved with fielding a band that large, you can see that the phrase “Million Dollar Band” is now loaded with real meaning.
I have a special stake in the game and the band’s performance. One connection,of course, is Will, who is, by the way, like his father, a great percussionist. He played with the band for a lot of games, including a few bowl games, but decided to give it up this year so he could devote his time to his studies. Will’s mom Karen got her masters in English at Alabama, and his father was the lead instructor of the band’s percussion section before Will was born, and he ended up getting his PhD at Alabama. So, yes, I want Alabama to beat Texas and become national champions.
I am probably going to be miffed at ABC because it probably will not show the bands very much. None of the networks give much air time to the college football bands, though I have seen a little improvement lately. Maybe enough emails will get their attention. Just click on this ESPN LINK and, in the comment box, tell them you would like to be able to see the Alabama and Texas bands during the broadcast of the national championship game. Forward this to your friends and ask them to do the same thing. It takes numbers to impress these folks.
(This post has been updated with more information in the post that now precedes it.)