Script Ohio is the signature formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band. Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State Marching Band on October 10, 1936 at the Ohio State versus Pittsburgh football game. According to The Ohio State University Library, a similar floating, non-script, formation was first performed during the 1932 season by the University of Michigan Marching band.
The Script Ohio is the most identifiable trademark associated with Ohio State Football and The Ohio State University Marching Band. It was devised by band director Eugene J. Weigel, who based the looped “Ohio” script design on the marquee sign of the Loew’s Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus.
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, 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 formation drill is performed, 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. In the fall of 1937, Weigel turned to Glen Johnson, a sousaphone player, and shouted, “Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player 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. Glen then became the first sousaphone player to dot the “i” on October 23, 1937. Since then, a sousaphone player has dotted the “i” over 800 times.
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.
View the directory of i-dotters [coming soon]
During the Skull Session fans are treated to a variety of activities. Each week the band’s “cheer groups” perform a song to go along with the football team’s opponent of the week. The cheer groups are selected from their respective sections: Trumpet Cheers (the oldest Cheer Group), Trombone Cheers, Horn Cheers, Baritone Cheers, Stadium Brass (An instrument from every part of the band except percussion), Percussion Cheers and the Tuba-Fours. At some point after the cheer group performances, a recent addition to the proceedings introduced by former Head Coach Jim Tressel, the football team enters to the sounds of “Fanfare for a New Era”. Immediately after their entrance a pre-selected Senior football player speaks to the band and fans amassed in St. John Arena followed by the Head Coach. Upon the football team’s exit, the band commences with the traditions associated with the Skull Session. This includes performance of “Fight the Team Across the Field” first softly and slowly, and on the repeat of the chorus, at well beyond the normal dynamics and tempo. The band is also known for performing Eternal Father, Strong to Save, otherwise known as The Navy Hymn to formally begin every skull session concert. If a visiting band is in attendance they will perform their pre-game and halftime show, followed by the OSUMB’s performance of pre-game and halftime.