It’s been a very busy and high-profile couple of months for the Rutgers University Marching Scarlet Knights with at least four major television appearances since November including the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” the “Fox & Friends” morning news show, the Super Bowl pregame show and a performance with U2 on the premiere episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
“I think for the band, it generates a lot of excitement among our students and gets our name out there, helping with recruitment as well,” says Timothy Smith, director of athletic bands. “There was an explosion of media attention that we got; it was overwhelming and amazing. The students overnight became the darlings of the university.”
Several years ago, the Rutgers drumline did a small appearance in the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” so it was asked back this year to kick off the show’s British Invasion theme.
“It was so funny and exciting to turn around and see our students on stage talking with international supermodels and rock stars like Fall Out Boy and Taylor Swift,” Smith says. “I think they had an awful lot of fun and a good learning experience having to prepare for such a major professional performance in a short amount of time.”
While filming in New York, Rutgers also appeared on the Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends” to celebrate the school’s upcoming move to the Big Ten conference.
Through producer contacts from the fashion show, the band was asked to do a joint Super Bowl pregame show with the Syracuse University Marching Band to go along with the New York/New Jersey theme of the entire event.
“Because of the combined effort with Syracuse and the incredible performance level the students met, they had their moment at the epicenter of the world,” Smith says.
Next, the Rutgers drumline was recruited to perform with U2 on the roof of 30 Rockefeller Plaza during Jimmy Fallon’s premiere episode as the host of “The Tonight Show.”
“When U2 walked into the room, all four of them walked over and shook our students’ hands, patted them on the back, stood there and talked to them for five minutes,” Smith says. “That was really gratifying to see those hardworking students be treated like that by these folks.”
Through these various gigs, Smith has made many contacts that he keeps in touch with in hopes that the band will be asked to do more high-profile performances.
“One of the great things about being here in New York City is that I have the ability to work the phones and let folks know that we’re here, whether it’s TV, newspapers or other opportunities,” he says. “I have a Rolodex of names I can call to just keep our name out there for anything that might be coming up.”