Rumors also circulated that the band would play the opposing team's fight song at the end of each game. That rumor touched off the wrath of OU fans, despite band leaders' denials that it had even been a possibility.
But two weeks before the season opener, the university's director of bands announced the band would be sticking with tradition — at least in part. The band went forward with two other planned changes — replacing “You're A Grand Old Flag” with “America the Beautiful” and adjusting how the band enters its interlocking “OU” formation before it leaves the field.
But many fans and alumni are still upset with the shows the band has performed so far this year. Earlier this month, fans launched a Facebook page, “Restore the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band,” calling on the band to return to old pregame traditions.
Another website, www.firejustinstolarik.com, points out similarities between shows the Pride have performed this year and older shows from the University of Wisconsin, where Stolarik served as assistant marching band director before coming to OU.
But that criticism isn't limited just to fans and alumni. The band's tuba section staged a walkout at Monday's rehearsal, said Mac Mecoy, an alto saxophonist. Only three of roughly a dozen tuba players showed up to the rehearsal, he said.
Mecoy, who is the son of The Oklahoman's business editor Don Mecoy, said he didn't think Stolarik was prepared to lead the Pride. The band has less confidence in Stolarik than they had in Britt, the band's previous director, Mecoy said.
Most of the uproar surrounding the band has been driven by a few outspoken members, Mecoy said. He has mixed feelings about Stolarik, he said. Not all of the changes he's made have been bad, Mecoy said, and he doesn't think he's doing a poor job as director.
“I miss the old director,” he said. “I'll say that.”