Winner Of The Losers

One man's life experiences and lessons

Script Ohio Part 1: The Greatest Tradition

Posted by admin On October - 29 - 2012

The greatest tradition of Ohio State University is script Ohio, usually performed by the marching band during the football pre-game.  Script Ohio was selected as the #1 College Football Tradition.


Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State Marching Band on October 24, 1936 at the Ohio State versus University of Indiana football game (see photo of the actual formation). 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.

At its first performance, the Script Ohio’s “i” was dotted by a trumpet player, with no special attention or honor being given to the movement. When the trumpet player, John Brungart (1933-36), dotted the first Script Ohio “i” October 24, 1936, the march from the top of the “o” to the top of the “i” was just another movement to complete a formation.  During a field rehearsal in the fall of 1937, Weigel had a spur-of-the-moment idea, and shouted to Glen R. Johnson, a sousaphone player, “Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player in the dot.” After several run-throughs with the exchanged positions, the script was ready to be performed.  At the game on October 23, 1937, the marching band, led by drum major Wesley Leas, performed with Script Ohio with Johnson dotting the “i”.  Johnson was in the band from 1937-40, and during all of those years he dotted the “i”.  From that time forward, the i-dot became the province of the big horns.

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 “Ohio”.

The familiar kick, turn, and bow by the sousaphone player at the top of the “i” was an innovation introduced by Johnson at a game in 1938. “(The turn) was an impulse reaction when drum major Myron McKelvey arrived three or four measures too soon at the top of the “i”,” Johnson explained, “so I did a big kick, a turn, and a deep bow to use up the music before Buckeye Battle Cry.  The crowd roared when this happened, and it became part of the show thereafter.”

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.

Each time the formation drill is performed, a different fourth or fifth-year sousaphone player has the privilege of standing as the dot in the “i” of “Ohio.”  The first sousaphone player to have the honor of dotting the “i” was a fourth year student from Delaware, OH, William Coulter.  The dotting of the “i” was ranked the greatest college football tradition by Athlon Sports.  Since then, a sousaphone player has dotted the “i” over 800 times.

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