KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Gee and Ursula: Idaho band turns ‘Van-Dogs’ as they rep. Yale for March Madness

Mar 25, 2024, 5:52 PM | Updated: Mar 26, 2024, 11:41 am

Photo: Yale players, including guard Yassine Gharram, center, celebrate with fans after their 78-76...

Yale players, including guard Yassine Gharram, center, celebrate with fans after their 78-76 win against Auburn in a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 22, 2024. (Photo: Young Kwak, AP)

(Photo: Young Kwak, AP)

Yale University took down Auburn University in a major upset in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) March Madness men’s basketball tournament last Friday. But, the university might not have been able to do it without the help of a pep band. But it wasn’t their own playing the Bulldogs’ fight song — it was the band from the University of Idaho.

The Vandals heard that the Bulldogs’ band couldn’t make it to Spokane, so they transformed into the “Van-Dogs Marching Band” for the weekend, as multiple media outlets, including The Associated Press (AP), explained. That included wearing Yale shirts at the event and playing the university’s fight song.

KIRO Newsradio hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin discussed the rally of support on “The Gee and Ursula Show” Monday.

Is it sweet or a betrayal?

Producer Andrew Lanier begged the question: Is that really sweet? Or is it a betrayal of their own school?

“It’s really sweet,” Gee answered without hesitation.

“It’s always interesting when people have this, ‘You can’t cheer for the other team, and how dare you, you don’t want to do anything nice for them. And, if they do something good, and it was really something that you enjoyed, don’t clap for them. Because you’re a part of this team. And if when you’re a part of this team, you accept and tolerate anything that this team does. And that other team, there’s nothing you can say good about the other team,'” he continued, mocking upset fans.

Ursula said she definitely agrees with Gee.

“I think it’s a sweet thing. I think it’s recognizing that, you know, they are unable, but they would want to have their band present,” she said. “And I think it’s just a wonderful gesture. And I don’t think of it as a betrayal because it doesn’t mean that they don’t cheer on their team. But here’s an opportunity to just show some humanity.”

The AP reported Yale’s band was unavailable because of spring break and “pulling together a travel group wasn’t possible.”

However, the school found stand-ins from the Idaho band, which the AP said “quickly became a viral sensation on social media” following the upset.

“We want to help out another university. We want to help out another band,” Director of Athletic Bands at Idaho, Spencer Martin, told the AP.

Speaking of helping out another band, Washington State University’s (WSU) marching band stood in for the University of Washington’s (UW) band when one of their busses crashed on the way to the Apple Cup in Pullman in 2018.

WSU’s band made sure the Husky Marching Band had a presence by playing UW’s fight song, “Bow Down to Washington,” before the game.

A WSU percussionist told Sports Illustrated his band took it as an opportunity to “demonstrate what can be accomplished when people put their differences aside.”

However, many die-hard fans have a hard time putting differences aside.

Gee pointed out how fired up people can get when athletes choose to go to a college out of state.

“It’s like when fans demonize kids for choosing to go to a college in another state. They say ‘Those kids betrayed us. I can’t believe they did that,'” Gee said. “I’m not saying any fans here would do that. I’m just saying. Hypothetically.”

Ursula brought up that when she can’t cheer for her team, the Oregon Ducks, she cheers for the team’s rivals, the UW Huskies.

“Am I betraying the Ducks?” she asked.

To which Gee jokingly replied, “Yes, how dare you.”

What if the situations were reversed?

Then Andrew brought up a new point: Would Yale have stepped in if things were reversed?

“I very much doubt if the Yale marching band would step in for anyone, any other schools. So good on you University of Idaho. The game was played over in Spokane, they were very close, hence their ability to come over and play a couple of tunes, but I just kind of doubt that the Yalies or anyone from the Harvard’s or Cornell’s would be stepping in for other marching bands,” said Andrew.

To which Ursula replied, “I don’t know about that.”

“Am I making a broad sweeping statement? Gross generalization?” asked Andrew.

“Yes, you are,” said Ursula.

Whether in Connecticut or Washington, fans everywhere know how fierce rivalries can be.

But as shown at the 2018 Apple Cup, even rivals can come together in times of need.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.- noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee and Ursula: Idaho band turns ‘Van-Dogs’ as they rep. Yale for March Madness