So you’ve probably heard about this by now.
If it’s possible for a band to steal headlines away from a football game, Rice’s Marching Owl Band found a way.
While Rice made strides but ultimately fell against No. 21 Baylor 38-10 on Friday at Rice Stadium, it was what happened at halftime that was the focus.
The MOB dedicated its halftime routine to satirizing Baylor’s sexual assault scandal. It sparked controversy throughout social media and the college football world.
Some believe the band was rightfully shining light on Baylor’s handling of the assaults. Some believe the band went too far in satirizing a serious matter.
It appears Rice officials agree with the latter. The university released a statement Saturday apologizing for the MOB’s performance.
The statement reads:
“The Marching Owl Band, or MOB, has a tradition of satirizing the Rice Owls’ football opponents. In this case, the band’s calling attention to the situation at Baylor was subject to many different interpretations. Although the band’s halftime shows are entirely the members’ projects with no prior review by the university administration, we regret any offense, particularly if Baylor fans may have felt unwelcome in our stadium. While we know that the MOB did not intend in any way to make light of the serious issue of sexual assault, we are concerned that some people may have interpreted the halftime performance in that vein. Sexual assault is a matter of serious concern on campuses across the nation, and all of us have an obligation to address the matter with all the tools at our disposal. The MOB sought to highlight the events at Baylor by satirizing the actions or inactions of the Baylor administration, but it is apparent from the comments of many spectators and Baylor fans that the MOB’s effort may have went too far.”
In the performance, the band started with Muppet Fozzie Bear on the video board and the narrator saying “some jokes can be unbearable”, a miniscule jab at Baylor’s mascot.
The announcer then said “There are nine judges on the Supreme Court or is it?” The band proceeded to align in a formation to resemble the Roman numeral nine representing Title IX – poking fun at the multiple Title IX lawsuits Baylor is facing over the school’s handling of sexual assaults.
It took another turn when the band aligned in a star formation meant to represent former Baylor president Ken Starr and his resignation, all the while playing the song “Hit The Road, Jack.”
You can see the full script for the show here; the embedded image contains the bit that this story elides over. As you may know, I play with the MOB and I was there on the field for this show on Friday night. All I’m going to say is that Rice University may feel the need to apologize for something, but I don’t. They are not speaking for me on this. Nor, apparently, are they speaking for the editor of the Rice Thresher, who is for more eloquent than I. The Trib and Deadspin have more.
UPDATE: Even better commentary in this Observer piece, written by a former MOB member.