Published August 4, 2022
The UB marching band is taking its show down the road this season for a big, primetime appearance on “Monday Night Football.”
The marching band has accepted an invitation from the Buffalo Bills to perform at halftime during the home opener against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 19, according to James Mauck, director of athletic bands.
“I’m super excited for my students,” says Mauck. “I had a chance to play on “Monday Night Football” when I was in college and it’s a big deal. This is going to be so much fun for them.”
The offer came out of the blue.
Mauck last month received an email from Brian Haberkorn, director of game presentation for the Bills, formally requesting that the UB marching band perform at halftime of the Monday night game.
After getting approval, Mauck gratefully accepted.
Haberkorn was familiar with the marching band from its performance at Ford Field in Detroit, the perennial home to the Mid-American Conference championship game and where Haberkorn had previously served as game presentation and production manager for the Detroit Lions.
“I targeted a local performance for halftime, as I wanted the home opener to be as centric to the area of Buffalo as possible, and the band seemed like a natural fit for a halftime performance,” says Haberkorn, who was recently hired by the Bills.
“I found Jim’s contact information and, after making contact with him, was pleasantly surprised that he directed the University at Buffalo marching band at that event in Detroit,” Haberkorn explains. “While we never met face to face, I had a direct line of communication to ‘cue the bands,’ so we had, unknowingly, worked together before.”
The marching band, nicknamed “Thunder of the East,” will go on around 8:30 p.m. and perform a routine that would last six to eight minutes, Mauck says.
While halftime performances are not typically shown on the television broadcast, the invitation from the Bills raises the band’s profile and adds another notch on the belt of its storied history. The band’s resume includes bowl-game performances, playing for former President Barack Obama during his visit to campus and marching in the inaugural parade for former President Richard Nixon. Last fall, the band celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Mauck also will use the “Monday Night Football” appearance as a recruiting tool, as he continues to assemble the band and bring new members aboard for the 2022-23 season.
Entering his 21st season as director, Mauck is always trying to provide these special experiences for his students.
“It’s all about them; it’s their band,” Mauck says. “So, I want to provide them the best opportunities possible. I want them to have this chance to step onto that field because you don’t get this very often.”
The band’s preparation for the Monday night appearance will not interfere with their schedule for UB football. The home opener for the Bulls is Sept. 10 against Holy Cross.
“We’re not entirely set on what we’ll be doing for the Monday night performance, so it will be a surprise for most people,” Mauck says. “But I guarantee, it will be fun.”