Dan McCullough, a 2014 Washington High School graduate and former Tiger Swing Band drum major, will dot the ‘i’ for the Ohio State Marching Band’s iconic Script Ohio Saturday.
Dan McCullough will make history Saturday.
When he performs at halftime of the OSU versus Tulane game, he will become the first Massillon Tiger Swing Band member to strut across the field in an Ohio State marching band uniform to dot the 'i' in one of the band's most recognizable moves — Script Ohio.
McCullough, who graduated in the spring with a bachelor's degree in education, will become part of a storied line of people to claim the honor as the band spells out O-h-i-o. It's always a fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player who stands at the top of the 'i.'
While there are many who have dotted the 'i' — movie stars and other famous OSU alumni and supporters — none have come up through the Tiger Swing Band, something McCullough, who led the Swing Band as its drum major from 2011 to 2013, finds hard to believe.
"Honestly it kind of shocks me," the 2014 Washington High School grad said. "With how storied our programs are and with all the connections from staff members and players, there is a big connection."
Robert Wenzel, the long-time announcer for the Tiger Swing Band, said there have been members of the Massillon band who have gone on to march in OSU's band (also known as TBDBITL), but McCullough is the only one to dot the 'i.'
Alumni from Jackson and McKinely high schools also have had the honor, Wenzel said.
Social media buzz
McCullough's role Saturday is causing a buzz on social media among alumni groups and his friend's sites, he said. There's even a T-shirt for the big game that features a character McCullough his family and friends will be sporting.
"There's a big group getting together. People from his church and family to go see him," Wenzel said.
Unfortunately, Wenzel and Tiger Swing Band directors and members won't make the performance because the Massillon band is preparing for its annual show this evening.
Wenzel and others plan to set their DVRs and hope the coverage includes McCullough's march to the 'i.'
McCullough, who was named Outstanding Senior Boy at Massillon, made the OSU band in 2014 and spent two years in the D Row, a group of potential drum majors that work as understudies to the drum major during the marching season to learn the position.
Road to the 'i'
When he concluded his time in the D Row without landing a drum major spot, McCullough wasn't ready to hang up his marching shoes and learned to play the sousaphone so he could try out for the band in 2016. All members, including those who had made the band the previous year, must try out for a spot.
"That's what is really the big part of this. It wasn't even his instrument," Wenzel said. "He borrowed a tuba from (Massillon) band director Jason Neel, practiced and made the band on one of the hardest instruments to make it on. He didn't give up."
The seasoned band member has kept his nerves at bay. As the performance gets closer, though, the jitters are beginning to creep up, he said.
"I've heard from others that have done it that once you hit the actual Script you lose sense of time and it becomes completely euphoric," the 22-year-old said. "You don't have time to think about it, you just do it. I'm very excited."
McCullough's parents, Mike and Becky, his three brothers, aunts and uncles and friends will all be in Ohio Stadium to see him take the iconic stroll.
Typically performed during the pre-game festivities, this weekend the Script Ohio will be performed during halftime and feature four different Script Ohio formations.
The band and the TBDBITL Alumni Club will mark the 50th band alumni reunion with more than 770 alumni returning home. More than 660 alumni will march on the field for the halftime show alongside the current band.
Dotting the 'i' at this game is a little sweeter as McCullough will be joined by three others, including 100-year-old Ohio State alumnus Anthony Violi of Steubenville. He is a longtime music educator and played the trumpet in the band from 1937 to 1942.
In the quadruple Script Ohio, the current band will perform facing the student section at the south end of the stadium while the alumni band will perform three separate Scripts facing the north, east and west sides.
The band will begin in the block O formation before unfurling into the 'Ohio' formation on the field. As the song nears the end, the drum major and the chosen "dotter" will arrive at the 'i.' On the drum major's cue, McCullough will bow deeply to the crowd, a tradition that dates back to the 1930s.
This will be McCullough's last year with the band. In the spring he will begin school at Capital University to secure his teaching license. He plans to teach middle school math.