Commonly in attendance at most home men's hockey, basketball, and lacrosse games, the BRPB attends many other Cornell University sporting events, including men's "sprint" football, soccer, wrestling, and crew; women's field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, and basketball; and even away men's varsity football games that the marching band does not attend. For attending non-hockey events, band members accrue "priority points," which are used to rationalize distribution of the scarce (51) supply of free hockey tickets. The band strives to attend as many away hockey games as possible, but financial considerations usually limit road trips during the regular season to Harvard and another travel pairing, for example Clarkson - St. Lawrence. (From 1993 to 1997, the band attended at least one away game in each ECAC rink.)
At men's hockey games, the band instrumentation includes flutes, clarinets, saxophones, horns, trumpets, trombones, tubas, and percussion. (THE BRPB eschews electronic amplification.) The band does not "lead" cheers but instead interacts freely with the Lynah Faithful. Known for clever chants intended to distract opposing goalies, the BRPB has taken on the nickname "Hooligans with Horns," bestowed by the Burlington Free Press in March of 1996:
Cornell's 5-4, first-round loss to Lake Superior on Friday night promptly ended the Big Red's tournament and, much to the approval of opposing goaltenders, sent the Big Red Band packing, too.
The rowdy group spends more time with taunts than it does with tunes, chastising goalies with an "It's all your fault" chant after Cornell goals and dismissing rival institutions as "safety schools."
Last week at the ECAC Championships at Lake Placid, Cornell's hooligans with horns teased Vermont with an "Overrated" call - and the Big Red wasn't even playing the Catamounts. Tough bunch.
--Burlington Free Press; March 24th, 1996
History of the Pep Band Edit
Before 1985, the BRPB was an official subset of the Cornell University Big Red Marching Band (BRMB). Members elected one conductor for a full-year term. Fall season conducting duties were shared between an elected pep band conductor and the drum major of the marching band, and spring season duties were, traditionally, shared between the pep band conductor and the outgoing marching band head manager. Non-marching band members were welcome but not actively recruited.
In November 1985, the BRMB voted to create a separately organized pep band. Bob Pittman, the first head manager of the separate organization, and Scott Pesner, the first treasurer, worked with Georgian Leonard, the marching band's athletics liason, to secure funding for the new group. Men's hockey, lacrosse, and basketball, which became the triumverate of traditionally attended sports, all did well during that first year, with hockey winning its seventh ECAC championship and lacrosse advancing to the national final.
Since those early days, the fortunes of the pep band have followed the fortunes of the teams that it follows. Whether for the ECAC semi- and finals or a mid-season non-conference game, the band travels at the drop of a hat. Since 1985, the band has followed the Big Red to Boston for the 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992 ECAC tournaments; to Lake Placid for the 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2002 ECAC tournaments; to Albany for the 1996 NCAA Tournament and the 2003 and 2005 ECAC tournaments; to Grand Rapids, MI for the 1997 NCAA Tournament; to Worcester, MA for the 2002 NCAA Tournament; to Providence for the 2003 NCAA Tournament; to Buffalo for the 2003 Frozen Four; and, most recently, to Minneapolis for the 2005 NCAA Tournament.