The Undefeated, a sports and pop culture website owned and operated by ESPN, has issued its annual final rankings of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) bands for the 2021 football season. This year, in both divisions one and two, new schools have taken the top spots. Norfolk State University reigned supreme for division one while Kentucky State University claimed division two.
“Thank you, ESPN and the Undefeated adjudicators for this terrific honor and acknowledgment. In addition, a big thank you to the NSU administration, staff, alumni, family, and friends for their unwavering support,” said professor William Beathea, director of bands at Norfolk State to the outlet.
“Here at NSU, we challenge the students in musicianship, physical training, and drill execution. We are very proud of their development thus far and willingness to continue to improve. Moreover, the standard of performance by our peers in the HBCU band world is very high, and it helps push us to thrive for performance excellence.”
The Florida A&M Marching 100 earned No. 2 spot, and the Southern Human Jukebox came in at No. 3. The Kentucky State Mighty Marching Thorobreds won the division two top spot over Benedict College at No. 2 and Miles College at No. 3.
According to The Undefeated, the rankings are conducted by two separate six-person panels. Each person on the panel are current or retired band directors, choreographers, and other qualified individuals from HBCUs who judge the schools on musicality, pictures, drill and design, percussion, auxiliaries, and drum majors. The bands are critiqued by the judges who also provide feedback to the individual programs.
“I truly believe our rankings have contributed to making our HBCU bands better than ever. Every form of adjudication has some level of subjectivity, which always leaves room for discussion regarding which band is better,” said Don P. Roberts, executive consultant for The Undefeated HBCU Band Rankings.
“What makes our band ranking so credible and well respected is that our template is designed to improve the total band performance. I guarantee that bands are paying more attention to detail in regards to drum majors, auxiliaries, percussion and the highest-scored areas of musicality, and pictures, drill and design than ever before. We know our process isn’t perfect, but any band that works on these essential elements will improve their overall program.”
Roberts added, “Every HBCU band is No. 1 each and every day on their campus and to their home fan base.”
View the full list at The Undefeated.