People who look forward to catching the Penn State Blue Band’s performances in the TailGreat shows at the Bryce Jordan Center prior to home football games are going to be disappointed this year.
The band confirmed Tuesday on Twitter that they would no longer be doing the shows, but made it clear it was not their decision.
“We are disappointed to confirm that the @PSUBlueBand TailGreat Show will no longer be a part of Penn State’s football game-day experience,” the group tweeted. “Thank you, fans, for all of your continued support and loyalty to our program. We are nothing but thankful. #RaiseTheSong.”
Blue Band public relations officer Patrick Burke could give little additional information, saying that the band knew little more than that the 20-year tradition was no longer happening.
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What he could say was who made the call.
“At this time, all I have is that we are very disappointed in the Penn State Athletic Department,” he said.
The TailGreat page on the department’s webpage, www.gopsusports.com/promotions/tailgreat.html, now redirects to a default message: “We’re sorry, but the page you requested does not exist.”
Burke said band director O. Richard Bundy was told of the decision “very recently,” and relayed the information to the band.
A statement from Penn State athletics made the decision seem much more mutual, with an emphasis on future spotlights for the band. After several attempts to reach the department for comment, it sent a response just before 5 p.m. — about five hours after the band’s announcement.
“Bands are an integral part of the college football game-day experience. We are working very closely with the Blue Band to develop expanded opportunities for the band to be more integrated with our fans in various locations around Beaver Stadium, including the football team’s expanded stadium arrival, as well as celebrating the Blue Band’s pre-game march to the facility,” the athletic department’s response read.
“We did not feel that TailGreat was accomplishing the level of interaction among our more than 100,000 fans, and exposure for the Blue Band, that is deserved.”
In addition, the statement said that Penn State and the Blue Band “are engaged in preparations for the exciting return of Band Day” after nearly 40 years.
“Band Day will return for the UMass game on Sept. 20, including the Unrivaled Band Jam, which will be held in the Bryce Jordan Center prior to the game. The Blue Band, the UMass band and high school bands will be performing during the Unrivaled Band Jam,” the statement said.
At this point, all the band members know is that the TailGreat show was “a way to showcase our work every week,” Burke said.
The Blue Band works on new music on a weekly basis rather than presenting one show for a whole season.
“We work very hard to do this,” Burke said. “It’s a chance for us to really play for our fans, a chance for us to honor the other bands. It’s a great way for us to kick off game day.”
The announcement came on the same day that the band held rookie auditions, and just hours after coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions practiced their new entrance to Beaver Stadium. It came as a sad shock to some fans.
“My family has loved attending the TailGreat events. It is a fun, family-friendly way to kickstart the game! As a music educator, I loved the opportunity for youth to get a closer look at all aspects of the Blue Band — one of the finest music ensembles in the country. They could watch the drumline precision, listen to the close harmonies of the wind instruments, and could see the effort and beauty of the majorettes and silks!” said Stephen Switala, of Philipsburg, who teaches music at Clearfield Area Middle School, in an email.
“I feel that the athletic department’s decision to stop this event — without a valid explanation — is a terrible way to start what could be the rebirth of a national college football contending team, university, and fan base. I hope that the university will strongly reconsider this decision and reverse course to recognize that TailGreat is part of Penn State,” Switala wrote.