Sports Traditions: Ohio State Dotting the “i”


Timeless Traditions: Ohio State

Ohio State University’s “Pride of the Buckeyes,” a 225-piece all-brass-and-percussion band, has been a hallmark of the school since the late 1800s. The group has been the driving force behind several marching band innovations, such as animated formations and script-writing, throughout their storied existence.

But how does that explain their tradition of “dotting the ‘i’” as the band spells out the word “Ohio” before kickoff? We’ve uncovered the background of this famous college tradition (aptly called “Script Ohio”) so it makes more sense to the Buckeyes who go crazy for the ritual.

I Before E

In 1936, trumpet player John Brungart became the first member of the Pride of the Buckeyes to “dot the ‘i.’” However, at that time there was no additional showmanship required when playing this part. In wasn’t until 1938, when Glen Johnson arrived too early to his mark where he used up the additional measure by turning and bowing to the crowd. Thus, “dotting the ‘i’” (as Ohio State fans know it today) was born. This task is typically awarded to a fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player, though a few former coaches and other famous individuals, such as comedian Bob Hope, have been extended the honor to be “‘i’-dotters.”

However, this exceptional band can’t be defined by just one tradition. They’ve proven an ability to put together an amazing half-time extravaganza enjoyed by college football fans and non-fans alike. The Pride of the Buckeyes’ performance from Oct. 26, 2013, entitled the “Hollywood Blockbuster Show,” has been viewed over 17 million times on YouTube. The band also had a tribute to Michael Jackson, also performed in 2013, which has been watched over 12 million times.

O-H-I … O!

Worth almost the price of admission by themselves, the Pride of the Buckeyes help add to the prestige that is the Ohio State University football program. Show your love for those “i”-dotting musicians, and those pretty good football players, by making sure you’re sporting the scarlet and gray on gameday. Head to for the latest officially licensed merchandise and apparel.




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