Messing with Perfection: How to Improve Hang On Sloopy

By Nicholas Jervey on May 10, 2014 at 6:00a

Hang On Sloopy is near the top of the list of things that make Ohio State gamedays feel special. It has been a signature song of the Ohio State Marching Band for nearly 50 years, and The Ohio State University's official rock song for decades. This week, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to make Hang On Sloopy the official rock song of OhioIt's an important song, to say the least.

Now comes an opinion that could get me horsewhipped in the wrong company: Hang On Sloopy badly needs a revitalization.

For every song the OSU Marching Band plays, the goal is to hype up the fans. Sometimes the crowd is into Hang On Sloopy, and everyone in the stadium is happy. The problem: when the crowd isn't feeling it, something that is more common as of late, Sloopy comes across as stale, even dull.

Not every song has to be constantly exciting; people mostly clap the Script Ohio song (Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse). But when the sousaphone player goes to dot the i in Ohio, the crowd comes to life. Can anyone say Sloopy inspires the same energy?

The worst thing that could happen would be for Buckeye fans to stop caring about Hang On Sloopy, which is why I have a potentially hare-brained plan to revive interest in the song.

LEss Is More

Scarcity can do wonders for a song's popularity. When Wisconsin does their "Jump Around" before the fourth quarter, the excitement is palpable. Virginia Tech fans are just as excited for "Enter Sandman", and Liverpool fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" during games is scintillating. So here's an idea: play Hang On Sloopy once and only once in a game, during the last media timeout in the fourth quarter.

Rather than being a random song on the marching band's music list, Hang On Sloopy will have a specific purpose. Depending on how the game is going, it will serve one of three functions: 1) victory celebration music, 2) exhorting the team to pull out a tight game, or 3) perking up spirits in a loss. Fans will be have more energy when they know the song is coming and get hyped up for it.

By saving Sloopy for the fourth quarter, TBDBITL will have a time gap to fill. Much like Hang On Sloopy will be the fourth quarter's signature song, there should be signature songs for the first three quarters. Each should be a popular song from artists with Ohio ties and sound great from the OSU Marching Band.


This song features vocals from John Legend, well known Ohio resident and OSU fan. The hook is perfect for Ohio State's trumpet section, and as a widely popular song, it will catch broad attention.

What's more, it already has currency with Ohio State fans. It was the pump-up song for the 2011-2012 men's basketball team that went to the Final Four, and it worked flawlessly. I'm not saying All Of The Lights will propel Ohio State football to greatness... but I'm implying it!


The Black Keys are a blues rock group out of Akron, and they might be the best rock band in the US. They won Grammys for "Best Rock Performance" and "Best Rock Song" last year, and Eleven Warriors has used their song "Ohio" as post-win celebration music for years.

Most fans' interaction with Hang On Sloopy is to clap and chant "O! H! I! O!". A song where you get to wail "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-OHIO! I-O!" blows Sloopy's interactivity out of the water. "Ohio" is a fantastic sing-along song for both the chorus and verses, and it's another song the band can knock out of the park.


The Ohio Players are a 1970s funk band best known for "Love Rollercoaster" and "Fire". Love Rollercoaster is fine, but Fire is nothing short of fantastic. It has an opening riff trombone players were born to play, and delivers incredible energy.

One qualm with Fire is its sections with suggestive lyrics. The solution: play Fire as an instrumental, don't print the lyrics anywhere, and let people croon FIIIYUUUHH like they want to.


None of the other three songs is as storied as Hang On Sloopy. Old songs can be great – Carmen Ohio is 111 years old and as moving as ever – but 50-year-old songs need to inspire enthusiasm to remain popular. In the worst-case scenario, it becomes as cloying as Penn State's Sweet Caroline

Without a specific purpose, Hang On Sloopy is just another song in the marching band's repertoire. The best thing we can do for Sloopy's sake is to reinvent it as a fourth quarter rally song.


Comments Show All Comments

osu407's picture

I think this is great and agree completely. Despite how catchy it is, I've always thought we should replace seven nation army with a black keys song because of jack white being from Detroit. 

+3 HS
dan_isaacs's picture


Ohio should certainly replace it.  We can still make many of the same sounds, but but a raucous I-O! would be deafening. And it would be ours.

Dan Isaacs

+13 HS
USMC11917's picture

Hang On Sloopy badly needs a revitalization.

No sir. I'm good with it as is.

+10 HS
ibuck's picture

Agreed USMC. have you a horsewhip?

And, to me, this comment by Jerveys needs correcting:

For every song the OSU Marching Band plays, the goal is to hype up  entertain the fans.


Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

OvalBeachBum's picture

I disagree.  The halftime show is to entertain the fans, the songs during the game are meant to "Keep the fans moving and into the moment of the game" (words directly from a member of the band).  And honestly, none of the students want to hear Hang On Sloopy, it has no real significance to us, we know that it is directed towards the older crowd.  Im in no way saying get rid of it, but I do think that we need to find more ways to pump the crowd up.  Our stadium is never nearly as loud as it should be, and I don't think its the students that are at fault there...  

"Well, thats just like, your opinion, man."  -The Dude

TMac's picture

I was worried about where you were going with this, but if the only change to Sloopy is giving it a special and expected place, I could be good with that!  I'd go earlier than deep into the fourth quarter though, as not everyone hangs around when the Buckeyes are up 35.....

ONE Not Done!

seafus26's picture

Easy, they are (Black Keys) the "best rock band in the US?" I appriciate their work and when in right mode, really like. I wouldn't go as far as "best" or even "rock."    I don't know that we have too limit song choices to Ohio ties. The mentioned schools I doubt have ties to mentioned songs. I don't know where House of Pain is from but I doubt it's Wisconsin. And Metallica is certainly not from Virginia (about 99% sure they're from Cali). As you touched on; its more about entertaining and getting a rise from the crowd. I don't know the above mentioned songs and have never heard them in a gym or anywhere that likes to crank it up to keep the energy and tertosterone at a high.  Down here in Houston my favorite song they do is on 3rd down, similar to our intro to Hells Bells (no Ohio conection for ACDC no Anerican connection for that matter) on 3rd downs for our defense, is "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine for the Texans D. Some thoughts might be, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Beastie Boys with "Sabotage." Or "Jambi" by Grammy winners, Tool. At least Something you might hear on your workout play list on a max out day and makes the crowd wanna push it to another level. Sounds cheesy but how 'bout LL Cool J's, "I'm gonna Knock You Out?" That could be situational and used to pull team through in close game or let the other team know they're chalked up as ass whooped. Not a good choice if on verge of losing, but lets not even think of that.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+1 HS
97Buckeye's picture

I would like to register my no vote for all of your suggestions. But, thank you for playing and have a nice day!

+5 HS
dan_isaacs's picture

 I don't know that we have too limit song choices to Ohio ties.

I do.  Project pride.  Elevate our fellow Ohians.

Dan Isaacs

+2 HS
Goalscorer9's picture

remember, we're talking about songs the band could play, I'm not sure any of those songs you mentioned would sound very good when played by a marching band.

seafus26's picture

Very true. I love our band. Every time I come back north I try to bring some one new with me that hasn't experienced OSU football. Every time, TBDITL is the thing that seems to stick with them most. When I make us leave tailgating early to see the band enterance and script Ohio, there is always resistance but then greatful they witnessed that, later. Wow, and the recent halftimes?!

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

CarolinaBuck's picture

I'm 85% in love with the band and I know criticism is nothing short of treason, but I think they play sometimes just to hear themselves play. We don't need to hear something after every fricken play. That shortened version of Le Regiment is meaningless and to be frank, after the tenth time hearing it, somewhat irritating to listen to. 

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

Treason?????  You're being much too kind.  TBDBITL is what elevates a tOSU gameday experience from one of the best in college football, to pure college football nirvana.  The only change I would make to Sloopy is to eliminate the idiotic PA Announcer introducing it.  Sloopy no more needs an introduction than does the team itself.  Playing it between the third and fourth quarter is a 50 year tradition.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

harleymanjax's picture

That first video gave me a headache!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

-1 HS
BroJim's picture

You should not compare Script Ohio with Hang on Sloopy. Script Ohio is more of a performance and way more symbolic. It's not a fair to measure the two with the same stick.

I season my simple food with hunger

+3 HS

Still floors me that Script Ohio was a gift from TSUN

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Floyd Stahl's picture

Well, technically they were the first to form a script Ohio formation, but TBDBITL was the first to actually march it out as if it was being written by a pen. So I don't consider it to be a gift from TTUN.

+2 HS

I stand corrected and educated.  Thanks for the details.

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

AAStagg's picture

Thanks, but no thanks.  The whole point of tradition is that it's one of the few things in life that doesn't change.  That's its beauty.  That's why we hold tradition dear.  The night sky is foreboding black, our little boats are tossed and turned on rough seas, but tradition is our lighthouse.  It let's us know we belong here and everything is going to be okay.  Put your earbuds in and listen to whatever you'd like during Ohio State football games.  But please don't move my lighthouse.

Keep calm.  It's only a game.

+5 HS
dan_isaacs's picture

Not sure how elevating that traditional song to a closer role is a negative change.  For reasons well articulated in the article, this proposal would elevate the enthusiasm of the crowd, and thus the relevance of this song to their gameday experience.


Dan Isaacs

+1 HS
Blackbeards Delight's picture

I'm sure the old timers in 1965 were saying the same thing when TBDBITL played it for the first time. I like tradition but agree with Jervey in that there should be more contemporary ditties in the mix as well. A little something for every generation. 

"Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23yr, it's what's for breakfast"

- Me


+1 HS
Ethos's picture

So just an odd question. If the point of tradition is that things never change. Then how do you start a tradition?

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

+1 HS
Buckeye in Illini country's picture

Doesn't the band already play it between the 3rd and 4th quarter?  Even at Purdue, this was the case; except stupid Purdue just kept playing crap over the loud speaker.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

+3 HS
Nicholas Jervey's picture

They do. Moving it to the last media timeout is an idea to increase the excitement.

Ceci n'est pas une signature.'s picture

 But they only play it once during a game in full and that is between the 3rd and 4th quarter. 

+2 HS
TBDBITL0509's picture

Actually, the band will play stand cheers using an 8 - 16 bar section of staple songs. We have cuts for Script's "Le Regiment", "Across the Field" and, yes, "Hang on Sloopy"

+1 HS
gwalther's picture

Co-sign this idea. Willing to pay for others to vote with us.

Class of 2008

TBDBITL's picture

I am glad you think the band should only play Sloopy in fourth quarter, because that's already what we do.

+5 HS
FitzBuck's picture

I felt compelled to adopt an orphan during the "All of the lights" intro.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Ethos's picture

I thought he connected me to another Sarah McLaughlin video...

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

+1 HS
BuckToAsT's picture

Sloopy already has a slot--TBDBITL plays it between the Third and Fourth quarter.  That's the only time they play the song during the game--though they play "snippets" of it during the game, as they do with every other school song.   Are you suggesting the band just stop playing the snippets?  Not sure I'd agree.

+3 HS
Nicholas Jervey's picture

Pretty much. It's also going on during the pregame. The major concept is to make Sloopy more impactful by making it scarcer. If we can introduce more songs that fans take to as well, all the better.

Ceci n'est pas une signature.

BuckToAsT's picture

Fair enough.  I do like the idea of coordinating songs with fans.  Anything to make gameday atmosphere better.

route4buckeye's picture

*old man grumble grumble get off my lawn*

+4 HS
Ethos's picture

Why not a live rock band that blasts out the real rock version of hanfg on sloppy. Let the band do their thing and add this as once a game. 

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

-3 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

What do you think this is, the Dallas Cowboys?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

kvn's picture

i think 4th qrt song should be crowd chant by joe satriani


route4buckeye's picture

MLB Network uses that song. It's cool.

buckeyedude's picture

My alma mater, Toledo Whitmer High School, has used all of the Ohio State songs, including Hang On Sloopy, for ever. But they recently(like in the last 15 years or so) canned Hang on Sloopy, supposedly because there is some devious, evil meaning to the song.




buckguyfan1's picture

I still get goose bumps when Hang on Sloopy starts up.  Every time all the time. 

SaudiBuckeye's picture

Oh how time passes so quickly! Watching The Ohio Players performing on Midnight Special in 1975 brought back a flurry of memories: no cell phones, no internet, no cable, stations signing off after midnight, the Woody Hayes Show, vinyl records and McDonalds updating how many million hamburgers they sold! Thanks Nicholas, now I really feel old! lol

Deano's picture

Is there such a thing as the "last media timeout" that can be predicted?  In basketball, it'd be the first whistle with fewer than 4 minutes to play.  To my knowledge, football isn't (and can't be) that predictable.

Think about the 2010 Rose Bowl (v. Oregon) or The Game 2012 where we got the ball with the lead and several minutes and ground out the clock.  Not sure the band would know that 6:15 left was the moment for Sloopy.

Think about 2011 Wisconsin where we score a TD to widen a lead, they score a TD, they score a TD to take a lead, followed by Braxton to Devin Smith to reclaim the lead.  All within the last 5 minutes or so.  Band would have misguessed the last timeout in that game.

I think between quarters 3 and 4 is the easiest possible, most significant, repeatable, guaranteed-to-happen moment in the game.

+1 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

This is about getting back to basics, really.  When I was in school 20 years ago, Hang On Sloopy would show up once in a while earlier on in the game, but it was mostly at the start of the fourth quarter, and maybe a couple other key moments late in the game.   I like the suggestions made here.  The sentimental side of me would like to hear the old "I Wanna Go Back" more often.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+1 HS
TallTom's picture

I like the Black Keys and Ohio Players suggestions as an addition to keeping Hang on Sloopy as 4th Quarter song . I have thought for a long time that we need some fresh material for the next generation, especially considering many of the  players don't have the same taste in music. If the purpose is to get the crowd and the team jacked up, we need to find some things that are relevant to them, All the lights would be cool for night games for sure,.

Buckeyebarnes's picture

Bring it! This is an amazing way to bring more energy to The Shoe. We can say we are true to tradition but when the tradition is getting flat, its time to adapt. I've been to 50+ games and I can tell you that Sloopy only adds energy to the crowd when the crowd is already jazzed up. It won't bring energy on its own because it is so common place. Reserve it for the fourth and bring in some new traditions for the first three quarters. Great idea!

Proud Alumnus, Class of '98

Nick_Satan's picture

Its the Offseason. Wow just wow...

Evannati's picture

How to make Sloopy better?  Easy.  More cowbell. 

osu78's picture

I propose instead we play "Bomb Ann Arbor Now" in the first quarter, followed by "I don't want to be a Wolverine" in the scone and closing out with "Buckeye Bop" in the third.