As college football season races towards its thrilling climax, the spotlight isn’t just on the gridiron. The HBCU Band of the Year competition committee, part of ESPN Events, has been diligently evaluating the performances of marching bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the 2023 football season.
With Week 12 now in the books, let’s take a look at the latest Division I and Division II + NAIA Band of the Year rankings as we eagerly anticipate the Band of the Year Championship, set to take place on December 15th at the iconic Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just one day before the Celebration Bowl.
The Path to Glory
John Grant, the Executive Director of the Band of the Year, Cricket Celebration Bowl, and Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff, laid out the blueprint for this unique competition. Each participating marching band submitted their weekly halftime performances, which were then meticulously judged by a committee. This panel of experts evaluated the bands based on various criteria, including musicianship, originality, precision, and showmanship. The culmination of these assessments resulted in the weekly and monthly rankings that have been made available online throughout the 2023 football season. Fans have been able to track their favorite bands’ progress through the Band of the Year website, a dedicated mobile app, and HBCU Gameday.
The Quest for Excellence
The stakes are high in this prestigious competition. The Band of the Year Championship aims to showcase the very best in HBCU marching bands, celebrating their excellence and commitment to the craft. As the BOTY competition committee stated, “The top two bands from each division in the final rankings will earn the right to compete for the national title in Atlanta.” This ensures that only the cream of the crop will have the opportunity to vie for the coveted ESPN Band of The Year title.
November’s Top Five
On a recent Wednesday, the BOTY competition committee released the cumulative rankings for November 2023. These rankings have a significant bearing on which bands will have the honor of competing in the championship. The BOTY website explains, “The November ranking will list the top five in each division. The final ranking will award the top two teams in each division a shot at the ESPN Band of The Year title.” With just a week remaining until the announcement of the final cumulative ranking on November 28th, the excitement and anticipation among HBCU marching band enthusiasts are palpable.
As the college football season charges towards its thrilling conclusion, the HBCU Band of the Year competition adds an extra layer of excitement and pride for fans and participants alike. These bands represent not only the rich traditions of their respective schools but also the vibrant culture o