Rice's Band, The MOB, Brings Strings, Fun and Offense. In Equal Measure


You have to love the Rice Band, or the MOB (Marching Owl Band) for short. On Saturday the MOB was set to perform a classic Ode to Johnny Football on vaunted Kyle Field complete with "autographed" JFF t-shirts. A&M apparently got wind and shut the MOB down. Keep killing unicorns A&M. Jerks. Here's a photo of the MOB special commemorative uniform.

Perhaps just knowing the MOB, A&M assumed that Johnny's antics were too good to pass up. Either way, the MOB got shut down and the world is a sadder place.

If you've never seen the MOB perform don't expect a lot of John Phillip Sousa or The White Stripes. The MOB has a string section, a guitar section, accordians, and, according to their website, musical accumen isn't exactly a requirement.

The MOB actually formed way back in 1919 and back then it wasn't called the MOB and it didn't do satire. It was a real live marching band with all of 12 students. The Rice Owl Band as it was known, played along until 1971 when the band started tackling more timely and perhaps controversial targets. The band dispersed with marching and instead started scattering, a practice that better served the academic rigors of a typical Rice year. Scattering meant less marching and less marching meant less practice. Membership became somewhat less formal and alumni and friends routinely "scatter" with the band. Back in '73 Marvin Zindler accompanied the band by twirling at midfield. Why not. The band boasts a tuba player in his third decade of service. 

Somewhere in the late 70's the Rice Owl Band became the MOB, around this time the band started making waves and enemies. In 1973, at halftime of a game against Texas A&M, the MOB goose stepped and formed a fire hydrant in reference to the Aggies' dog mascot. The Aggies weren't pleased and a real life mob tried to exact revenge outside of Rice Stadium. The MOB was secreted out of the stadium in food trucks. 

In 1975 Harris County Judge Roy Hoffheinz actually shut down a MOB performance at the Astrodome because he somehow got his hands on a script for the band's performance that included the phrase "First in was, First in peace, Last in the National League." Hoffheinz left his press box seat to inform the MOB they wouldn't be performing.  

In 2007 the MOB mocked a string of arrests on the University of Texas' football squad with a Dragnet themed halftime in Austin complete with cardboard police cars and MOB members dressed as Longhorns players. The MOB formed $EC at halftime of the band's performance in Austin four years later to commemorate A&M departure to the SEC.

In 2007, the MOB went after then Tulsa coach Todd Graham who left Rice after just one season. As luck would have it, Tulsa visited Rice Stadium a year later. The MOB staged and epic Inferno based show that ended with Graham finding the last ring of hell, Tulsa. Oh and the MOB called him a douche, which prompted Tulsa to demand a formal apology. As MOB director Chuck Throckmorton noted, Tulsa fans had a greater sense of anger than humor. 

The MOB doesn't just seek to offend, but regardless, they have a lot of fun. In 1982 the MOB did at ET themed halftime in Austin that included a balloon launch. The MOB also suggested programming for the Longhorn Network with a halftime devoted to ideas like Bevo as the Bachelor. Their Christmas themed show in College Station actually drew a standing ovation from Aggie fans.  

 For 40 plus years the MOB has been one of the most entertaining musical groups in sports. The MOB isn't afraid to take shots at the sacred cows of college football, even on enemy turf. Just sit back, if you're offended the MOB will certainly offend your rival soon. It's best not to take their shenanigans too seriously, it's a marching band full of smart kids who will someday own the world or at least most of it.

Posted on September 5, 2013 and filed under Southwest Round-Up, Sports.