Obviously, I am going to make note of this.
A spectacle on the Rice Stadium football field: A college student wearing a suit and fedora hands a giant check for $0 to a man in a rubber horse helmet.
Scoffs, over in the Southern Methodist University section of the bleachers: The Mustangs forfeited nine years in TV revenue to join a Power Five athletic conference, and Rice University’s band couldn’t resist making the deal the punchline of its halftime show.
“Nothing that we couldn’t handle,” SMU graduate Ryan Alexander says after the performance. “All is fair in love and football, right?”
Members of Rice’s Marching Owl Band would tend to agree, having lampooned teams, universities and political events for decades with productions that make some cackle and others grind their teeth. The group known more affectionately as The MOB has built such a reputation in college sports that fans and rivals alike might arrive at a football game wondering more about what the people in Blues Brothers costumes might do than what might happen on the gridiron.
The MOB got attention this fall for an Austin Powers-themed sketch that painted Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles as Dr. Evil and scorched his decision to remove librarians at around 85 schools. Only at Rice — a university recognized for its academics and quirky student population — could a band blend nerdom with wit and achieve a minor brand of celebrity.
“Rice students, we love that we’re different. The MOB is part of that,” said sophomore Isabella Campos, who is not a member of the organization. “It’s rare that some undergrads have that much power in something like a schoolwide marching band.”
See here for more on that show about Mike Miles. I for one will never forget that he was all pissy about it. Be that as it may, this is a nice long article that is worth your time to read. I spoke to the reporter as well – she attended a game a few weeks ago and talked to a bunch of us – but she focused mostly on quotes from the students, which makes sense. (You can spot me in a couple of the photos, if you care to click through them.) One thing I said to her that I’ll repeat here is that the MOBsters of 2023 would have fit in just fine with the MOBsters of twenty or thirty years ago. There are just fewer of them now than there were then. We do our best to cope with that. Anyway, read and enjoy.