For halftime entertainment last Saturday, the University of Virginia Marching Band formed a guillotine pattern on the University of Maryland football field at College Park.
Then a voice over the loud-speaker asked the 30,000 Maryland fans present to "welcome our distinguished guest - conductor Marvin Mandel."
Onto the field walked a band member dressed in a striped convict suit, a ball and chain strapped to his ankle. Within seconds another band-member costumed in a policeman's uniform dragged him away, while a third musician strolled onto the field wearing a coat and tie. The loudspeaker spoke again: "Correction. Acting distinguished guest conductor Blair Lee III."
"I'm delighted they lost the football game," the real Blair Lee III said yesterday. "That was indescribably poor taste." Lee moved into the governor's mansion in Annapolis late last summer, succeeding Gov. Mande 1, who had been convicted of mail fraud and racketeering. Mandel, sentenced to four years in prison, is appealing.
If Gov. Lee was insulted, University of Maryland Athletic Director Jim Kehoe was furious. In the space of 10 minutes the band that describes itself as "the award-winning University of Virginia fighting Cavaliers indoor-outdoor precision and marching pep band and chowder society-review unlimited!" had ridiculed not only the state's political establishment but the school's own basketball coach.
"I have complained, in writing," said athletic director Kehoe. "I think it was a very tasteless thing, rude, discourteous and I certainly do not feel it should have happened in our own backyard."
The band's portrayal of Coach Lefty Driesell appeared to be based on recent news stories that four of the eight returning basketball players at the University were on academic probation.
The band's presentation opened big. "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound . . . It's Super Band!" was the introduction.
It went on to say that the band was conducted by Clark Kent, "who, disguised as Lefty Dreisell, mild-mannered coach of a great ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) team fights a never-ending battle against academic quality points, Norm Sloan and a receding hairline."
Coach Driesell does have a receding hairline and Norm Sloan is the coach of the rival North Carolina State University Wolfpack basketball team.
What Kehoe did not like mentioned was the "academic quality points" or C-average grades that the four basketball players failed to earn.
"The only other time I have ever complained about any skit was a skit put on in 1974 by this so-called band from Charlottesville," said Kehoe. "I have no objection if individuals want to express themselves but to presume to come to our stadium and put on skits like this is reprehensible."
Three years gao, when Maryland was the visiting football team at Virginia's stadium, the halftime fun began with a three-member "University of Maryland marching band."
A drum major, bass drummer and an accordian player from Virginia's band marched out on the field and promised to play three tunes: "the alltime patriotic favorite 'This Land Is Your Land,' the spine-tingling favorit of Americans everywhere 'This Land is Your Land,' and he awe-inspiring melody of 'This Land Is Your Land.'
"We got one complaint from a Maryland pom-pom girl that year," admitted Christopher Wist, conductor of Virginia's band and author of last Saturday's skit.
Neither Mandel nor Dreisell were on hand last Saturday to see the halftime entertainment or witness the game, in which Maryland's Terrapins defeated Virginia's Cavaliers, 2 to 0.