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Iowa fans got so mad about Stanford's band, they emailed to say it should be shut down

The Cardinal's band finds a way to offend somebody pretty much every year, but Hawkeyes fans might have set a new record.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The most memorable part of the 2016 Rose Bowl might have been Stanford's marching band making Iowa fans furious with its halftime show performance, which poked fun at Iowa's agricultural history. The script is here, and you can hear fans reach their boiling point when a giant cow is unveiled (the Hawkeyes were down by 35 points at the time, it's worth mentioning):

That's a bit of a tradition with the Stanford band, whose irreverent style made people mad at the Rose Bowl in 2014 and in 2013. Their antics this year were apparently so heinous that the Rose Bowl itself said it would "review polices." College marching bands are serious business.

But booing the band in person and getting the Rose Bowl involved wasn't enough. Some wrote to the highest levels of Iowa's administration to demand more punishment. And after an Open Records request, we have some to share with you.

Here's an email sent to University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld, emphasis ours.

After the disrespectful behavior of the Stanford band towards the people of Iowa this evening, I would respectfully request that any Stanford bands/orchestras/etc be banned from performing at the University of Iowa for at least the next 50 years. I can live with them outplaying Iowa on the football field, but the insulting and juvenile behavior of the Stanford Band towards all the people in Iowa is at best poor sportsmanship. Where I went to school it would have never been tolerated and more importantly our school's representatives would have never lowered themselves to that level. A message needs to be sent to all schools that poor sportsmanship comes with a price.

You hear that, Stanford? Not even your jazz ensembles are welcome in Iowa City anymore. Undoubtedly, it would cover "Take Five" in the lewdest fashion imaginable.

Here is another sent to Iowa's presidency:

Please consider contacting the Stanford president concerning the Stanford band performance at the Rose Bowl. As a Harvard man you are well aware of the university image and its importance. Stanford's band crossed the line of taste and all present were aware. Thank you.

Below is an email sent to Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir, which was shared with Iowa athletic director Gary Barta:

ROSES---Congrats on the Rose Bowl win. What a fantastic football team. The team showed great class in addition to their athletic performance. Major Kudos to this great accomplishment.

THORNS---Stanford Band. Disgusting performance at the Rose Bowl halftime. This performance was not only disrespectful to the great Iowa fans that were guests to the state of California but also to the high school and college Marching Band participants throughout the United States. The Band members spend hundreds of hours in practice to perform much the same as the great Stanford Athletes on the football team. The Iowa Hawkeyes Marching band is a great role model to the rest of the country youth that participate in marching band activities.

The Stanford Band was banned from playing in 2015 and they should be banned from playing in 2016 and beyond.

Kudos for the Roses and Thorns imagery.

A media outlet reached out to Iowa's marching band director, Kevin Kastens, to discuss a number of subjects, including Stanford's performance. Mr. Kastens replied:

I'm not very interested in commenting on the Stanford Band. It is what it is.

That seems reasonable.

Below is a screenshot of an email from a Stanford fan to an Iowa director of business.


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And finally, an email sent to both school presidents, edited for length:

I have been involved in education at both the high school and college level for forty four years and have a keen awareness of the comparative qualities of America's universities. With that said, Stanford is clearly among the elite universities and the staff, current students and alumni should take great pride in that. There is, however, one glaring embarrassment that far too often makes those unaffiliated with Stanford think poorly and undeservedly of the university, and that is the band, (I hesitate to call it a marching band), that performs shows that are not only tasteless, but also insulting.


I am told that Notre Dame banned the Stanford band from coming to South Bend because of some show in the long ago that was offensive, and that other colleges, in the interim, have followed suit. Today, from what I read, the band again lowered to the occasion to insult the folks at Iowa (if the football team hadn't already done enough in the first half).

Isn't it about time that the administration feels enough embarrassment to intercede and either officially disband the band or makes moves to form your clearly talented musicians into a marching band of which everybody can be proud. I was thinking, during the short time I saw your band on television, a lot of the current band members, coming out of nice high school programs, are probably not happy with the direction (or misdirection) that some of the shows take, but because of the tradition and peer pressure, they go along with it. Many of them would certainly be fine with a change back to a more traditional program. They want to be musicians first and not clowns. Stanford as so many reasons to be a proud university. Except one.

The story about the Stanford band and Notre Dame was true. The ability of a fan to analyze the desires of college students from the TV, well, that might be a bit of a stretch.

Stanford is not scheduled to play Iowa again in the near future, but if they meet in a bowl game, the halftime could be electric. Whatever Stanford's band did, Iowa won't forget about it for a long time.

Bonus angry emails

These are a few of the many that were sent to our own Rodger Sherman, the author of our original post on the show. He is a "coastal elitist" who attended a Big Ten university.

You have elevated excuse making to an art form.  Hard days' work mocked by a group, which has probably never experienced one.  The real crime is the lack of judgement and disdain among the adults overseeing the band and the university's leadership.

Nice job!

Dear Mr. Sherman,

In the majority of the World I think they would consider what the Stanford Band did as racism.  The NCAA should treat the Football team like they would in Europe.  A couple of years probation and no scholarships would correct the situation.  Not to mention an apology and no payment for the Rose Bowl game.

Thanks for reading,

Guess you really don't have a clue about respecting others do you. I am not from Iowa or Ohio, in fact they are my rivals of my favorite team Nebraska. But for the Rose Bowl, Pac 10, Stanford, your company, or anyone else to condone this type of behavior and disrespect of your opponents is ridiculous. As for saying it is just college kids is totally ridiculous also, those college kids grow up to be parents, teachers, business leaders, politicians, yes even writers or blue collar workers like me. Letting that kind of disrespect to be allowed or condoned is way beyond anything I can go all along with. All 4 of my children played in marching band when in school and if something liked this was done at there school there would have been alot of empty uniforms at the next time they marched, that type of thing would have never been tolerated.Guess I could bet that you went to very liberal schools and had very liberal parents

If you can't understand what makes people upset about the Stanford band it is likely because you dwell in the world of bottom feeding click bait that is sports 'journalism'.  It's likely the reason why you ran the story at all.
What you are glossing over are issues pertaining to respect, sportsmanship and ametuer  athletics.  You are also doubting just how much the Midwest is sick of coastal bias in media and the disrespect of many coastal elitists who consider to center of the nation to be no more than backwards flyover states.
What the Stanford band did is what they are known for and to dismiss it as something dumb that college kids did is ridiculous.  The Rose Bowl tradition is primarily about sportsmanship, something lost to the average clickbaiter.  The band also represents not only their school but their conference and to act like they did is shameful.  There is nothing funny about tasteless insults levied toward innocent people who have done nothing to provoke.
The band makes Stanford look like a group of rude elitists with zero respect for anyone or anything.  They are not future leaders rather they are future problems in society.  Behavior like theirs shouldn't be dismissed; rather it should be called out and shamed for what it is.  Wrong.
Stanford may have won the game but their school and all associated were losers in doing so.