EL PASO, Texas - When the Stanford football team squares off against North Carolina in the 83rd Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on December 30th, it will do so without the support of its controversial marching band.
The Stanford band was suspended last week through next Spring after a year-and-a-half long investigation. A panel found repeated violations of school policies after the band was barred from performing at away games during the 2015-16 season for violating policies on sexual harassment, alcohol, controlled substances and hazing.
Bad news for one band is good news for another. The Horizon High School band has been selected to play in Stanford's place at this year's Sun Bowl.
"When I first heard about it, I could not believe it. I was going crazy," said Christian Garcia, a senior lead in the stick section. "We're learning their fight song and we're learning another song that is a tradition for them. "We're going to have some rehearsals during our winter break."
The Horizon band will sit in the stands in the place reserved for the Stanford band and will play the Stanford fight song throughout the game.
"It's going to be televised on national television, it's a major college bowl game and one of the main things I kept thinking was how cool is it going to be for these kids to walk away after this program, after their graduation and say, 'I played in a college bowl game before I entered college," said Luis Flores, who plays in the drum line.
The Stanford band, known for its fun, non-traditional halftime performances and bold statements, was a big hit at the 2009 Sun Bowl against Oklahoma, but the band was booed off the field after mocking Iowans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last January.
The performance included simulated cow tipping and a reference to FarmersOnly.com, an online dating site.
At the time, Stanford issued a statement following the performance. "The Band's halftime show has provoked a variety of reactions," the statement begins, "The performance was intended to be irreverent fun, given Iowa's connection to farming and Stanford's historical nickname 'The Farm.'"
The university has initiated a process to develop new organizational framework for the band under the leadership of a new music director.
Unfortunately for the Sun Bowl, and those hoping for a big economic impact for the Borderland, the Stanford traveling party will be much smaller without the band. The band has about 150 to 160 members in its traveling party and that doesn't include family members who would have made the trip.
Hyundai Sun Bowl officials explained the selection of the Horizon band in this way: "The band committees started giving suggestions, a nice list of suggestions, and their band crew over at Stanford started making phone call," said Eddie Morelos, media relations director for the Hyundai Sun Bowl. "I believe they finally connected with Horizon. They will be in the stands performing throughout the whole game so I think that's great for them, for the City and all those that support them."