Script Ohio was first performed by the band on Oct. 10, 1936, and has become the quintessential formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band. While many point out that a similar formation of "Ohio" was performed by the University of Michigan Marching Band in 1932, it was not performed as the classic, constantly flowing script that has become the — literal — signature of The Ohio State University Marching Band.
Band Director Eugene J. Weigel based the looped “Ohio” script design on the marquee sign of the Loew’s Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus and created the most identifiable trademark associated with Ohio State football and the Marching Band.
The script is an integrated series of evolutions and formations. The band first forms a triple-Block O formation, then slowly unwinds to form the famous letters while playing Robert Planquette’s "Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse." The drum major leads the outside O into a peel-off movement around the curves of the script, with every musician in continual motion. Slowly the three blocks unfold into a long singular line which loops around, creating the OSUMB’s trademark.
Each time the band performs Script Ohio, a different fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player is chosen to stand as the dot in the “i” of “Ohio.” Because the Script Ohio formation was one of many new formations included by director Weigel, no extra emphasis was placed on the dotting. Originally, an E-flat cornet player, John Brungart, was the first “i”-dotter, but in the fall of 1937, Weigel turned to Glen Johnson, a sousaphone player, and had him take his place in the dot. A year later, when the drum major arrived at the top of the “i” three or four measures too early, Johnson turned and bowed to the crowd to use up the rest of the music. The crowd roared, and the bow has been part of the show since then.
Today, toward the end of the formation, drum major and the “i”-dotter high-five each other. Then with 16 measures to go in the song, they strut to the top of the “i.” When they arrive, the drum major points to the spot, and the “i”-dotter turns and bows deeply to both sides of the stadium.
On very rare occasions, exceptional non-band members are offered the invitation to be an honorary i-dotter in recognition of their service to Ohio State and to the band. Previous honorary i-dotters have included comedian Bob Hope (1978), former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes (1983), golfer Jack Nicklaus (2006), Sen. John and Annie Glenn (2009), and retiring Marching Band director Jon R. Woods (2011). The most recent was former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, who dotted the "i" on Oct. 1, 2016, and said, "I think this is the greatest honor I've ever received."
Skull Session originally served as a final music rehearsal for the band prior to their performance on the field, but has evolved into one of the most anticipated game day traditions at The Ohio State University.
The band marches over to St. John two hours and twenty minutes before kickoff and bursts into the arena to the sound of the ramp cadences. After a few short cheers from each section, the band takes their seats to play “Fanfare for a New Era” as the football team arrives. Coach Ryan Day and one of the players each speak briefly to the fans before they depart for the locker rooms.
As the team exits, the band plays “Across the Field,” first softly and slowly, then up to the usual pace and volume. Other Skull Session traditions include “The Navy Hymn” and “Hang On Sloopy.”
The band then performs a final musical run-through of its pregame and halftime shows, previewing the exciting soundtrack the band will be providing in The 'Shoe that day. Before exiting St. John, the band strikes up “Across the Field” one more time to hype up the fans as they go to cheer on the Buckeyes.
“Hang On Sloopy,” was originally recorded in 1964 by “The Vibrations” and was brought to Ohio in 1965 by a Dayton group called “The McCoys." That same year, the song was arranged by John Tatgenhorst and first performed by The Ohio State University Marching Band at the 1965 Illinois game.
Fans at first were not entirely enthusiastic about the tune, partially due to the inclement weather occurring when it was performed. However, later in the game and at the following home games, the fans demanded “We want ‘Sloopy!'”
In 1985, the Ohio General Assembly designated “Hang On Sloopy” as the State Rock Song. On May 8th, 2014, the process of putting it into law began when the Ohio House passed the Bill naming the song the Official State Rock Song of the State of Ohio. The Band was present in the House chamber to see it happen. The bill is currently awaiting Senate approval.
The traditional Ramp Entrance was first performed at Ohio Stadium in 1928. Approximately 20 minutes before kickoff, the percussion section is first to exit the tunnel to the sounds of “Buckeye Battle Cry.”
There have only been minor changes made between the original 1928 Ramp Entrance and the one that can be seen in Ohio Stadium today.