Tourney-bound mid-majors, whether their stay is short-lived or Final Four-worthy, are always fun while they last. That's not only because they accomplish extreme upsets on the court, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime, odds-beating wins that make the tournament the glorious crapshoot that it is. They also bring a unique flavor, a smaller, less-corporatized, more endearing feel. That goes for coaches who aren't used to holding their big personalities back, to bands like VCU's (which brings the pain).
It also goes for stories like this, via Yahoo! Sports' The Dagger, which is so charmingly mid-major it almost hurts.
The Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds hail from a school that doesn't offer an academic music program, and thus have no usual pep band. Typically, the Greyhounds use a local high school band, but when an NCAA rule prevented them from bringing the high schoolers more than 150 miles away from home for Loyola's first-round game in Pittsburgh against No. 2-seeded Ohio State. So Loyola reached out to nearby Duquesne and asked if the Dukes' pep band would be cool with coming down and supporting the Greyhounds. Band director H. Carl Hess -- not to be confused with referee Karl Hess -- agreed. The Dagger's Kristian Dyer reports:
Duquesne provided 29 student musicians for the game, the maximum number allowed by NCAA regulations for the tournament. Hess led the group of students, dressed in shirts adorned with pins supplied by Loyola, in a number of songs, from Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" to even the 60's rock anthem "Born to be Wild." [...]
"It was quite strange, especially when I saw friends who were working the game," Hess said. "They had to look twice, for sure. The kids loved it. Before we went over to the arena, I reminded them that they were now representing two universities, and I think they did that wonderfully. They were into the game, and I think our presence added quite a bit for the fans."
Charming, right? Sportsmanship, communal solidarity, the power of music, all of that stuff. Of course, Duquesne's duties were finished after just one game; the Greyhounds had little hope of keeping up with Jared Sullinger and the hyper-talented, defensively dominant Buckeyes. In fact, that's the only way this neat little story gets better: Loyola wins, makes a deep tournament run, joins the ranks of other No. 15-seed upsets, and some production company immediately commissions a script that is pitched as a cross between "Hoosiers" and "Mr. Holland's Opus." Cue baritone narration: A team needed a band ... but the band didn't know ... how much it needed the team. This summer in ... "The Pep Band."
It's a working title. Anyway, you get the idea. Cool story.